On June 4, probably the biggest anti-government demonstrations took place in Iran, just ten days before the presidential elections, marking the rarest political protests in the country in many years.
Tens of thousands of people reportedly took to the streets following the funeral services of a senior dissident cleric Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri. Videos and mobile phone footage of huge crowds chanting slogans against Ali Khamenei suggest that that the anti-government sentiment in Iran which was previously reflected in the 2009 demonstrations is still rife. You can watch one of the videos from the event below. (Translation of the title:Protests At The Funeral Of Ayatollah Taheri):
Though the authenticity of the videos from this week’s demonstrations couldn’t be verified, the Iranian opposition website Kaleme reportedly cited, “The funeral service for Ayatollah (Jalaleddin) Taheri in the city of Isfahan was accompanied by slogans in support of detained leaders of the Green (reformist) movement.”
In 2009 Iranian Elections, when Mahmoud Ahmedinejad became president for a second consecutive term, mass protests were held throughout the country in support of the opposition leaders. The demonstrations were known as the Green Wave or Green Revolution.
Two former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were put under house arrest in February 2011 for calling on protests similar to the Arab spring revolution in Iran. Although the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, expressed their support for the so-called revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, they refused to let it happen in their own country which caused mass protests and provoked strong anti-government reaction from the people.
This week’s demonstrations indicated that Iranians do not want the same conservative leaders after this year’s elections. Saeed Jalili, the frontrunner this time, is the head of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team and is as thought to be as conservative as Ahmedinejad. Therefore, more unrest is expected after the elections.
While Ayatollah Khamenei remains a strong influence and a revered figure in Iran, many now want him to step aside and let liberal candidates take over the regime. Political or nuclear, it’s mostly Khamenei who takes the most important decisions of the country. The presidential elections in Iran this time around are going to be crucial than ever. It appears the Iranians now want the clerics to remain inside the seminaries and want moderate leaders instead of conservatives.
Do you have any opinion on the anti-government protests in Iran? You can share your views in the comments section.