The June 12 democratic elections in Iran should have yielded a President to serve under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but this was not quite the case.
Eighty-five percent of Iran’s forty-six million voters cast ballots in favor of one of four candidates. Although election results in this country, four times the size of France, usually take at least twenty-four hours to process, after only four hours, Iran’s Guardian Council declared current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad victorious in a landslide triumph over opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi, having secured approximately 63% of the votes according to the BBC.
Shortly after the results were made public, supporters of Mousavi challenged their validity, pointing out that Mousavi had polled poorly in his home province of East Azerbaijan and other places were he was expected to win by a large margin. The following day, demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran in the largest protest since 1999. On June 14, the Ayatollah asked the Guardian Council to investigate allegations of vote-rigging and the demonstrations continued, becoming increasingly heated and violent. As of June 22, Mousavi’s party has alleged 646 irregularities, including votes in more than fifty cities exceeding the actual number of voters and other irregularities in 170 voting districts, including Tehran where the majority of the educated urban people (80-90% of voters) were in favor of Mousavi.
Despite the Ayatollah’s Friday June 19 address banning protests, street violence has continued, and the Revolutionary Guards have been called in to use “revolutionary” force to break up demonstrations. The weekend’s violence has stopped many Iranians from joining in for fear of injury or death. While foreign media has been banned from Iran in attempt to stop Western media from “exaggerating the situation,” Iranian radio has estimated the number of deaths to be at 19 and the number of arrests at 457.
After over a week of protests in favor of both Mousavi and the Ayatollah- supported Ahmadinejad, the results of the election are no longer about who won or lost. Although the Guardian Council is looking into the discrepancies and a re-vote is a distinct possibility, Iran’s balance of power between religion and politics has been upset. The problem with the election results goes to the heart of the system.
In addition to the demonstrations in support of both Ahmadinejad and Mousvai in Iran, Iranian ex-Patriots around the world have joined in the chorus. On June 16, Iranian-Americans demonstrated in Washington, D.C., walking from the Iranian diplomatic offices to the Russian embassy in protest of the supposed election fraud and Russia’s acknowledgement of Ahmadinejad as president. In Stockholm, Sweden, as many as 800 Iranians gathered in the main square, and in the Hague, Netherlands, approximately three hundred people joined together in support of the Iranians protesting in Tehran. In addition to these events, there have also been demonstrations in Toronto, London, Berlin, Paris and even Kuala Lampur. Despite the revisiting of the results by the Guardian Council, the protests will most likely not stop soon, as Mousavi urges his supporters to continue defiance.
To learn more about Iran post-Revolution, watch the National Geographic Channel’s Iran and the West, which–incidentally–airs tonight, Monday, June 22, at 9pm. This ninety minute program addresses three decades of mistrust between the United States and Iran, beginning with the Carter Administration’s approach to the 1979 hostage crisis up through contemporary events. This program will portray the clash of civilizations at hand and endeavor to answer important questions: Can Islam coexist with the modern world? How will Iran relate to the Obama Administration? Surely, this is not a program to be missed.
Melissa for My Wonderful World
Unrest in Iran: Incident Statistics and Maps for Protests, Arrests, and Deaths
Iranian Election Results by Province (June 15)
BBC: Police break
up new Tehran rally (June 22)
BBC: West ‘seeks
Iran disintegration’ (June 22)
behind Iran poll doubts (June 20)
BBC: Who’s who in
Iran (June 19)
Admid Crackdown, Iran Admits Voting Errors (June 22 )
News: More protests in Europe against Iranian election
Iranian-Americans protest in D.C. (June 18)
Elections protests around the world and in cyberspace (June 16)
Globe: Iran’s Disputed Election (June 15)