Smoke and mirrors
May 29th 2008
From The Economist print edition
Iran makes it hard even for benevolent outsiders to
THROUGHOUT its 29 years, the Islamic Republic has puzzled, even baffled,
observers. Its leaders proclaim peace and war in the same breath, and pretend to
practise both democracy and theocracy. But lately the symptoms of
schizophrenia have grown more pronounced.
We have a long history with Iran
Iran took an American embassy hostage. It may
have had a hand in the bombing of the American The Axis of Evil in a
marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 and it succinct package (Kim
stands accused now of helping to kill American Jong Il, Khamenei,
Saddam and George W.).
soldiers in Iraq. It is not surprising that many
Americans consider Iran a bitter foe.
Nor is it surprising that Iranians return the favour. America
organised the coup against Mossadegh, supported the shah, helped
Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war, invaded two of Iran's neighbours and
imposes sanctions on Iran. The Iranian regime considers America an
implacable foe and routinely denounces it, in political speeches and
organised rituals such as those fiery Friday prayers, as the Great Satan
or “the Global Arrogance”.
Most is mountain or desert so uneven
demographic distribution (70% of
Iranians live in 30% of land in north
and nw and in major cities);
Climate: scarce precipitation and
extreme temperature differences
10% of world total oil reserves;
2nd largest exporter of oil in
OPEC and 4th largest producer
in the world; oil reserves
concentrated along Persian gulf
in south and Caspian Sea in
Nov 15 2006 News Conference in Tehran
Shi’a Sunni Split
Split soon after Islam begins over question of who should be
caliph—Shiites think only heirs of prophet.
messianic belief that a “hidden Imam” will return at the end of
time and restore a just order (makes world politics in some
ways irrelevant or even . . . anathema. . . To the faith)
Means they extend only provisional legitimacy to rulers who
will let Islamic institutions flourish
RELIGIOUS FERVOR: An
Iranian Shiite prays for the return
of the Mahdi in Jamkaran
•Clergy paly a more central role in Shiism
•Clergy stand in collectively for the hidden Imam
•Over centuries play a role like that of the Christian priesthood in pre-
modern Europe or the Confucian mandarins in China; sut, compared to
Confucian mandarins, Shiite clerics are much more hostile to power
holders and held more independence
Shiite tradition shapes Iranian state
Central principle is: velayat-e faqih, or rule by Islamic jurists developed by
Justified revolution: Whereas a monarchy was a usurpation of God’s rule on earth,
a system of government by cle______ trained in Islamic jurisprudence would be a
continuation of the political system first established by the Prophet Mohammed.
Since such a form of government was the only regime consistent with the will of
god, s_________forms, such as that of the Shah, should be overthrown.
As such, the Iranian constitution and political institutions are an attempt to express
God’s will rather than instruments of human will –the point of the republic in to
guide the people toward Allah, not to serve the individual or mediate between
The idea: Shiite Clergy have a divine right to rule since they interpret god’s will
FYI because inquiring minds
always want to know
Shiite Muslims make up about 60 percent of
Iraq's population. They were brutally
repressed by Saddam Hussein's Sunni-
dominated government. Their leader, Grand
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is rarely seen in
•Persian HEAR OUR PRAYER: Iranian Shiites
•Shiite pray outside the Jamkaran Mosque near
Iran's holy city of Qom, where the
•No direct colonization Mahdi - the Shiite equivalent of the
Christian Messiah - is supposed to
answer prayers until his return.
Ayatollahs Aside, Iranians Jump for
Joy at Spring NYT 3/20/06
Ayatollahs Aside, Iranians Jump for Joy at Spring NYT 3/20/06
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the ruling ayatollahs sought to stamp out many
traditions, like Nowruz, a celebration with some Zoroastrian links that stretches back
thousands of years to the pre-Islamic era, to mark the arrival of spring. The celebration
is considered by many here the most Iranian of holidays.The ayatollahs tried, and failed.
Now, nearly three decades later, some people say the increasingly enthusiastic embrace
of Nowruz and other ancient traditions represents a resistance against the country's
more conservative religious rulers. Like most conflicts in a society as complex and
layered as this one, the contemporary story of Nowruz is not one-sided or exclusively
about resistance. It is also about accommodation. While Iran's religious leaders have
followed a policy of confrontation with the West over their nation's nuclear
program, they have, however grudgingly, ceded to the public's insistence on
retaining, even bolstering, traditions not founded in Shiism.
While it was the reformist government of former
President Mohammad Khatami that decided to establish
parks to hold the fire-jumping festivities, for example,
the practice was continued this year after the election of
the ideologically conservative President Mahmoud
That Iran's religious leaders have accepted Nowruz, and
other prerevolution traditions like Chahar Shanbeh Suri,
also demonstrates a growing degree of stability, as the Revelers in Tehran gathering around a small
country's leadership has tried to reconcile the bookends bonfire in a holiday ritual that leads up to
of Iranian national identity — faith and culture, the Iranian New Year
experts here said
Mar 20, 2004
Persian New Year
•Jump over a bonfire for “Chahr-Shanbeh
Souri” on Tuesday, March 15, 2011, at Persian
Center, 2029 Durant Avenue in Berkeley from
6-10pm to shake off the darkness of winter and
welcome the lightness of spring. This is a free,
family-friendly, non-alcoholic event held
•A Persian ritual passed down since outdoors on Durant Avenue.
ancient Zoroastrian times, the •Inside the Persian Center, a traditional altar
Persian New Year Festival, called holds green grass, live goldfish, food and other
Chahar-Shanbeh Souri, literally items representative of spring called the
means ‘Eve of Wednesday” because “haftseen” or seven ‘s’s as each item on the
the festival is always held on the last table begins with the letter ‘s’
Tuesday of winter, just before the
Vernal Equinox or first moment of
CULTURE BLEND Islamic strictures met Persian love of pleasure in a Tehran
shop in 2005 when a head scarf was pulled back to show some hair
1979 Revolution Background
Coalition forms: Urban Poor
early 1970's, as the price of oil continued its upward climb, a rising gap forms between
the rich and the poor.
Urban poor (esp recent rural urban migrants) wanted the basic Shi'a Islamic lifestyle to
return, and oppose Shah's efforts for modernism and progress, which they believed to
be western dominated, imperialism. They see the Shah's reforms as self-serving and
his promise of providing "progress" to be false
1979 Revolution Background
Coalition forms: Middle Class
moderate middle class (want political freedoms) Even many of the
pro-western middle class became increasingly angered by the
regime's cronyism, internal corruption, and repressive nature and
use of the secret police.
1979 Revolution Background
Coalition forms: leftist opposition
Many in West thought would win
1979 Revolution Background
Coalition forms: Bazaar merchants
economy to a stop
The bazaar (Persian; Arabic, suq; Turkish, çarşi), traditional marketplace located in the old
quarters in a Middle Eastern city, has long been the central marketplace and crafts center, the
primary arena, together with the mosque, of extrafamilial sociability, and the embodiment of
the traditional Islamic urban lifestyle. Merchants and commercial trade are esteemed in
1979 Revolution Background
Coalition forms: Clergy
They were the moral focus point—
They had solid centralized organization,
good orators, financial independence,
mobilizing networks (mosques, Islamic
legit from years of opposition to Shah
the “vanguard party”
Massive Street Demonstrations
in 1978 and 1979
Ayatollah Khomeni returns from exile and urges
Many cities were placed under martial law. It
was too late. People poured to the streets to defy
Soldiers were ordered to shoot. They did, and
according to the opposition, more than 600 people
were killed in Zhaleh Square alone. This day
(September 8 1978) became known as the Black
Friday and that square's name was changed to the
Square of Martyrs. Only incites more to rebel.
Shah turns to the US
Iran occupied a strategic place in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East,
acting as an island of stability, and a buffer against Soviet penetration into the
Offends many in Iran
The Iranian Shah meeting with Alfred Atherton,
William Sullivan, Cyrus Vance, President Carter, and
Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1977
Iran victor 'kidnap role' probe
The US Embassy Hostage Crisis
February 14 1979 : Marxist students temporarily seized control of the US Embassy in
Tehran. Khomeini denounced the takeover, and forced their retreat
November 4 the embassy stormed a second time, taking _____-six hostages—these
students were followers of __________and inspired by the belief that the US was
preparing a counter-revolution that would restore the monarchy, akin to Operation
The hostage crisis continue s for 444 days, generating frustration and a deep animosity
in the US toward Iran, while serving as a source of revolutionary pride for many
In April 1980 President ___________approved a military operation to rescue the
hostages, —disaster after an air crash en route to Tehran killed eight servicemen.
Only after Carter had been defeated by _________in the 1980 elections did Khomeini
agree to allow the hostages to leave. To this day, the US does not have formal
diplomatic relations with Iran.
Soon the army refuses to support
the shah and he falls
The Iranian Revolution
transformed Iran from a pro-
western constitutional monarchy,
under Shah Mohammad Reza
Pahlavi, to an Islamic, populist
theocratic republic under the rule
of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
But . . . The regime change was a process
Importance of the 1979
First revolution in which the dominate ideology was r__________and the leadership
cadres were cl_____ instead of secular, lay individuals (a revolution led by religion,
financed by the bazaar merchants and fought by the urban poor)
Importance of the 1979
it is the most popular since China, in terms of the masses
But in contrast, it is
the only modern
one in which
and large it was an
Importance of the 1979
first to create a
combine it with
most revolutions are directed against church and state-the Iranian rev was directed
only against the state
Importance of the Revolution/
Anti-Western sentiment continues
Rather than focusing so much
attention on the president, the West
needs to learn that in Iran, what
matters is ideology — Islamic
revolutionary ideology, according to
politicians and political analysts
Nearly 30 years after the shah fell in a popular revolt,
Iran’s supreme leader also holds title of guardian of the
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s power stems not from his office per
se, but from the refusal of his patron, Ayatollah
Khamenei, and some hard-line leaders, to move beyond
Iran’s revolutionary identity, which makes full relations
NYT Dec 20, 2005: Iranian's Oratory Reflects
with the West impossible
Devotion to '79 Revolution
Effect: “Brain Drain”
In the heart of "Tehrangeles," as Iranians everywhere
call their largest exile community.
In Comparison to other
Khomeini/Mao/Lenin similar all revolutionary organizers, personality cult
Iran after 79 had the same foreign policy issues as the soviets—“socialism in
one country” or permanent rev.
Clerics play a similar role to the vanguard party
Similar to cult rev to purge enemies from the university –red vs. expert
Like the French rev –a moderate coalition gives way to more ideological
The Cultural Revolution (1980-1987)
(in Persian: )انقالب فرهنگی
a period following the 1979 Rev where the academia of Iran was purged of Western and non-
Islamic influences to bring it in line with Shia Islam
Directed by the Cultural Revolutionary Headquarters and later by the Supreme Cultural Revolution
Council, the revolution initially closed universities for three years (1980-1983)
after reopening banned many books and purged thousands of students and lecturers from the
The cultural revolution involved a certain amount of violence in taking over the university
campuses since higher education in Iran at the time was dominated by leftists forces opposed to
Ayatollah Khomeini's vision of theocracy and they resisted Khomeiniist control at many
Marjane’s parents to smuggle in an
Iron Maiden poster from Turkey
into Iran in the early 1980s, when
the Iranian “cultural revolution”
was in its most virulent stage.
Everything Western was banned,
including rock music.
Iranian Leader Wants Purge of Liberals From Universities
September 6, 2006
TEHRAN, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular
professors from Iranian universities, the IRNA news agency reported.
“Today, students have the right to strongly criticize their president for the continued presence of
liberal and secular professors in the country’s universities, he told a group of young
conservatives on National Youth Day, according to the news agency.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said the work to replace secular professors had started, but “bringing change
is very difficult.” “Our educational system has been affected by 150 years of secular thought
and has raised thousands of people who hold Ph.D.’s,” he said. “Changing this system is not
easy and we have to do it together.”Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments appeared to be part of a
continuing crackdown on social and political freedoms that began with his election last year.
As part of the crackdown, about 110,000 illegal satellite dishes have been confiscated in the
past five months, one senior official, Ahmad Roozbehani, was quoted in the news media as
saying. Opposition channels that broadcast mostly out of the United States have a large
audience in Iran.
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s call to rid the universities of secular professors is reminiscent of the Cultural
Revolution of 1980 to 1987, the period after the 1979 Islamic Revolution when many liberal
or Western professors were fired or forced to conform to the revolutionary
Remember China’s Great Proletarian Cultural
movement that took
place in the People's
Republic of China from
1966 through 1976
Set into motion by _______ _____________ its stated goal was to enforce socialism in the
country by removing capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from Chinese society, and to
impose ______ist orthodoxy within the Party. The revolution marked the return of _____
___________to a position of absolute power after the failed Great Leap Forward. The
movement politically paralyzed the country and significantly affected the country
economically and socially.
Chinese propaganda poster: "Destroy the old
world; Forge the new world." A worker (or
possibly Red Guard) crushes the crucifix,
Buddha, and classical Chinese texts with his
Conservative policies cracking down
on civil liberties
Nikahang, a leading cartoonist and blogger, published
an interesting cartoon in his blog and in Rooz online
about what many call the second Cultural Revolution
2007 Comp question: Explain two similarities in the goals
of the Great Proletarian Revolution in China and the
Cultural Revolution in Iran
The focus of the question is on goals and not on process or outcomes.
The Cultural Revolution in Iran is not the Islamic Revolution; it is the revolution that follows.
Acceptable similarities may include:
Cleansing of Western values/anti-capitalism Revising education Purging political
enemies Reinforcing political legitimacy Purging educational institutions
Affirming revolutionary ideals/values promoting ideological conformity
Repressing dissent Attacking intelligentsia/middle class Discrediting the past/old
order elevating the status of the leader/cult of personality
Unacceptable answer include:
•Equivalence between Red Guards and student mobilization in Iran; student
radicalization; closing the universities; making countries stronger; taking of U.S.
•Economics; regime change; describing what a revolution does (change government).
Effect on Women
Contradictory because the revolution has both
--Opened up new possibilities for women &
--instituted repressive controls over women
Unintended because a different kind of woman
has emerged in Iran than was anticipated by the
Women in the revolution
•Khomeni cultivated the "Ideal Revolutionary Woman" who
was supposed to be pious and trained in tradition to pass that
on to children, deferent to fathers, husbands or brothers,
•He also called the chador the "flag of the revolution“
•urged women to participate in the masses: to fight and to
vote in elections in the new regime
So the effect of the Rev on women
. . . On the one hand
•. To ensure they wouldn't tempt men, the regime ordered women to cover all but face &
hands and to segregate themselves from men in public places (eg no football games)
•Hezbollah (party of god) harass women for their attire (vigilante groups who serve as
unofficial watch dogs and storm troopers of the clerics and are hardly ever prosecuted)
•Sharia law means can stone for adultery, restrictions on women leaving country without
consent of male relatives. .
•women barred from running for
president (about 90 applied to in 2005
but were denied)
•Women are 27% of the work force
As mayor of Tehran, Ahmadinejad,(current
president) , instituted policies of gender
segregation, calling for women and men to
take separate elevators in government
Women in Politics
Country Rank Lower or Single House Upper House or Senate
Elections Seats Women %W Elections Seats Women %W
United States 69 11 2004 436 66 15.2% 11 2004 100 14 14%
United Kingdom 50 05 2005 646 127 19.7% N/A 721 126 17.5%
Russia 100 12 2003 447 44 9.8% N/A 178 6 3.4%
China 47 02 2003 2980 604 20.3% --- --- --- ---
Iran 128 02 2004 290 12 4.1% --- --- --- ---
Mexico 30 07 2003 500 121 24.2% 07 2000 128 28 21.9%
Nigeria 119 04 2003 360 23 6.4% 04 2003 109 4 3.7%
On the other hand
• Women can vote
•A narrowing education gap between women & men means equal
numbers of boys and girls in school
•women now outnumber men at universities Shirin Ebadi
•Decreasing family size leads to more demand of education and
employment—”democratization of family”
•A worsening economy has forced women into the labor market to help
support their families
•The regime has opened up job opportunities in government,
professions, & universities for women: higher percent work than other
•Globalization brought information & images of women's gains
•Dress codes relaxed, esp.
under Pres. Khatami
Women vote in 2005 election
After President Mohammad
_________came to power in
1997, Islamic dress started
shrinking and finally
became a simple head scarf
and tunic. (The tighter or
more slit the better, and
preferably pink this year.)
Iran was looking for ways to
take part in international
women's events without
abandoning Islamic dress.
The past few weeks have helped widen the gulf. After years in which they felt downcast
and helpless, opposition partisans saw the sudden birth of a popular movement in support
of Mr. Moussavi that exceeded their hopes. Rallies began drawing tens of thousands of
cheering people. The streets of Tehran and other major cities began exploding after dark
with carnivalesque street celebrations, in which young people danced and dressed in the
signature bright-green color of the Moussavi campaign. Word of the events spread by
Facebook, which — like other new Internet technologies — proved a challenge for the
authorities to control. Women became a driving force, emboldened by Mr. Moussavi’s
ground-breaking decision to campaign alongside his wife, the distinguished political
scientist Zahra Rahnavard.
Women Cyclists Face Jail, Warns Iranian
Police Chief oct 28 2010
Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian
On October 11, 2003, the Nobel
Committee announced that it was
awarding the 2003 Nobel Peace
Prize to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian
activist who has worked for
women's rights and children's
rights. This is the tenth year in
Nobel history that the prize has
been awarded to women, and
Shirin Ebadi is the 11th woman,
the first Muslim woman, and first
Iranian to be so honored.
Iran has sent 52 athletes for Olympics that three of them are women. Iranian women will compete with
headscarf as Hijab. Among the competitions the Iranian Olympians will participate in are freestyle and
Greco-Roman wrestling, taekwondo, judo, weightlifting, archery, track and field, discus, rowing, boating,
cycling, table tennis, boxing and shot-put
Olympic dream a reality for Iran's
As the first Iranian woman in Winter Olympics history, the 21-year-old will head a
four-member Iranian team that will be the only one from the Middle East
Najme Habtin, Iranian Archer. Foto
of her during archery training ahead
of the Beijing 2008 Olympics at
Olympic Green Archery Field on
August 6, 2008 in Beijing, China.
Restrictions on Presidential
Only Shiite can run for President
Only “well known political personality” can
run for President (interrupted by GC as no
Iran unveils plan for women's car
Iranian women can drive cars but are not
allowed to ride motorbikes
Iran has announced plans for a new car designed specially for women.
Its features will include automatic transmission, parking and navigation aids and a
jack for changing tyres without getting grease on your chador.
Iran's biggest car producer, Iran Khodro, says it will come in a range of feminine
colours and interior designs.
Other features are proposed to make it easier for women when they are doing the
family shopping or taking their children to school.
If that suggests a degree of sexist stereotyping in Iranian society, it is, just possibly,
Other features are proposed to make it easier for women when they are doing
the family shopping or taking their children to school. If that suggests a degree
of sexist stereotyping in Iranian society, it is, just possibly, true. Despite the
fact that Iranian women now make up around 60% of university students,
Iranian men have yet to absorb fully the message of equality.
A recent study by an academic from Allameh Tabatabaii University in Tehran
found that working Iranian women believed that the domestic chores should
be shared more equally. However, according to the report "their husbands
think and act traditionally".
Indeed, the idea of married men cooking for their wives is viewed in Iran as
highly eccentric. As a result, the report concludes, Iran's new generation of
working women "are obliged to play the role of a superwoman to resolve their
contradictions in handling all tasks." It says such women "have become
increasingly frustrated with their life".
Officially, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists that Iranian women
are the most equal in the world. And the authorities proudly boast of the
achievements and opportunities open to Iranian women. But the official
Iranian concept of equality is very different from that understood by
Western feminists. Among the more eccentric policies here, Iran recently
announced plans for a special bicycle for women. None of the machines
has been spotted yet, but apparently the idea is to provide special covers,
to help preserve female modesty as they pedal.
Women, however, are still banned from riding motorcycles. However,
they can often be seen perched on the back, sometimes with one or two
small children in their arms, as their husband weaves through the Iranian
Iran Bans Women from Attending Men's
•May 2006 Iran's hard-line president surprised
many of his country's soccer fans last month
when he announced that women would be
allowed to attend men's soccer matches -
something that had previously been forbidden.
Some observers think he was trying to gain the
support of moderates in order to build national
unity amid increasing international pressure •Iranian female soccer fans stand behind
over Iran's nuclear program. But then, Iran's fencing to watch a training session in Tehran.
supreme leader forced the president the The country has banned females from watching
reconsider his decision. soccer inside stadiums
•The president's spokesman said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to reverse his decision after
the Supreme Leader called on him to consider the views of Iran's religious leaders. Some of
the country's top clerics and lawmakers had criticized the president's announcement. They
said that a woman looking at the body of a male stranger at games like this one earlier this
year would violate Islamic law.
From an NPR interview:
•Regime post 1979 has done 4 things well
•Education for women (more than men in university), birth rate,
health care and disparity b/w urban and rural
•About birth rate: at first wanted high, b/c of war with Iraq (wanted
soldiers) but then realized economic implications, so pushed to get
it down –b/c it is a theocracy, it did not have to use authoritarian
means like China, it came out as “Allah’s will,” taught in mosques,
control edc etc.
GO here to click on the links and find out about each institution
What are the points that come up most in
articles about Iranian gov?
In the multiple layers of power that obscure the governance of Iran, no
one knows for certain where the ultimate decisions are being made.
The Constitution gives the ________ __________near total control of the
state, though officials like to emphasize that he is selected by the
___________of Experts, which is elected by the public. The leader appoints
all military and security commanders, he has the power to declare war and
must confirm the election of the president. He appoints the head of the
judiciary, more than half the members of the Guardian Council and the head
of state television.
Still, Iran is not a country ruled by decree. There are multiple power
centers and competing agendas, requiring that major decisions be made after
consultation and compromise
Plainly, Iran’s leadership is not at one. The reformers,
once led by Muhammad_________, who was president
from 1997 to 2005, seem demoralised and weak. But the
conservatives look increasingly divided between the
radicals, led by Mr Ahmadinejad, and more pragmatic
figures, such as Mr Larijani. The president is becoming
unpopular, largely because he has failed to improve the
material lot of the poor who elected him and because his
belligerence over the nuclear issue has isolated Iran in
the world and made Iranians frightened of the prospect of
being bombed. According to one poll, half of those who
voted for him in 2005 would not do so again
38 oct 24 2007
U.S. Focus on Ahmadinejad
Unlike in the United States, in Iran the president is not the head of ________nor the
commander in _______That status is held by Ayatollah Ali______________, the
supreme leader, whose role combines civil and religious authority. At the moment,
this president’s power comes from two sources, they say: the unqualified support of
the supreme leader, and the international condemnation he manages to generate
when he speaks up.
“The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad,” said an Iranian
political scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “He
is not that consequential.”
That is not to say that Mr. Ahmadinejad is insignificant. He controls the
mechanics of civil government, much the way a ________ ______does in a state
like Egypt , where the real power rests with the president. He manages the budget
and has put like-minded people in positions around the country, from provincial
governors to prosecutors. His base of support is the Basiji militia and elements of
A candy shop in Qum featured a
poster of Ayatollah and his
Ruhollah__________, the father
of the revolution.
Iran has had two "Supreme Leaders"
Ayatollah Ruhollah ____________, 1979–1989,
and Ayatollah Ali _______________, 1989–present.
er taking a
NYT Feb 9
The image of Ayatollah Ali ____________i, the supreme
leader of Iran, looking down on a street in Tehran
Present and Past Presidents
Iranian President Mohammad __________right, smiles as Iran's president-
elect Mahmoud, _____________ looks on during a meeting in Tehran on
Wednesday June 29, 2005. Iran's non-elected constitutional watchdog
Wednesday approved the result of the presidential runoff election that
gave ultraconservative Ahmadinjead a landslide victory. (AP Photo/Hasan
In the multiple layers of power that obscure the governance of Iran, no one knows for
certain where the ultimate decisions are being made.
The Constitution gives the supreme leader near total control of the state, though officials like
to emphasize that he is selected by the Assembly of______________, which is elected by the
public. The leader appoints all military and security commanders, he has the power to declare
______and must confirm the election of the __________He appoints the head of the judiciary,
more than half the members of the Guardian Council and the head of state television.
Still, Iran is not a country ruled by decree. There are multiple power centers and competing
agendas, requiring that major decisions be made after consultation and compromise.
Many Try to Run for
President in Iran, but
Few Will Be Allowed
May 11, 2009 Clockwise from top left: Iranians carry posters of Mir
Hussein Moussavi, a reform candidate, with former President Mohammad
Khatami; men wait to register; President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shows
his identification; a woman registers to run for president.
The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran takes his oath of office
inside a mosque in Tehran, the nation's capital.
The outgoing president hands the presidential seal of office to Iran's Supreme
Leader and Head of State. The Supreme Leader then hands the seal to the new
president, and administers the oath of office.
On the wall is a portrait of the Ayatollah Khomeni, the founder and first leader of
the Islamic Republic.
Not a total rubber stamp
unlike in most Arab countries and
debate—even fist fights
legislation must be passed by them
and govt has to work to get it thru
can impeach pres
Refused to confirm 5 of
Amadinajad’s nominees for cabinet
Members of Parliament listened on Tuesday as the interior
minister, Ali Kordan, made his case. They voted 188 to 45 to
dismiss him over faked academic degrees.
November 19, 2008
Iran Replaces Interior Minister After a Scandal
By NAZILA FATHI
TEHRAN — Two weeks after Parliament dismissed the interior minister in a scandal
over his credentials, deputies voted on Tuesday to confirm President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad’s nominee to replace him.
The vote was 138 in favor of the new minister, Sadeq Mahsouli, a Revolutionary Guard
commander, and 112 opposed. About 20 lawmakers abstained.
The vote took place two weeks after Parliament fired Ali Kordan after it became clear
that he did not hold a doctorate from Oxford University, as he had claimed.
Mr. Mahsouli was confirmed as lawmakers sought more details about the source of his
wealth. Mr. Mahsouli, who is a close ally of Mr. Ahmadinejad, withdrew his nomination
as oil minister in 2005 after members of Parliament raised questions about his income.
On Tuesday, Mr. Ahmadinejad defended Mr. Mahsouli, saying he had not accumulated
his wealth while in government.
“There is nothing wrong if a person engages in economic activities when he does not
hold government positions,” he said during a speech broadcast live from Parliament on
state radio in support of Mr. Mahsouli.
“If you want to put an end to such concerns, you should come up with a bill that would
investigate the wealth of all senior officials from the beginning of the revolution,” Mr.
Ahmadinejad said, referring to the wealth of his opponents among former senior leaders
One-Third of Iranian Parliament Quits in Protest
Feb 2 2004
By NAZILA FATHI
T EHRAN, Feb. 1 — More than one-third of Iran's Parliament
resigned Sunday to protest a sweeping ban on candidates running in the
parliamentary election later this month. The defiant move threatened to
plunge Iran's political system into chaos.
One by one, angry lawmakers who have held a three-week sit-in at the
huge Parliament building, marched up to the podium and handed their
resignations to the speaker. In an emotional statement read aloud during
the session of Parliament on Sunday and broadcast live across the nation
on Iranian radio, the members who resigned accused powerful
conservatives of seeking to impose a religious dictatorship like that of
the Taliban, who were overthrown by American-led forces in
A ban by hard-liners on election candidates
prompted mass resignations by
reformers in Parliament.
President Ahmadinejad hands parliament his budget NYT Jan 22 2007
Members of Iran's parliament called for Mir
Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to be
Electoral System for Mahjiles: TRS
“Two Round System
After the first round of the election the votes are calculated and
the candidates who have received the highest number of votes and
at least a required minimum percentage of votes get a seat in the
Majlis.. An absolute majority is not required – as it is in many
other TRS – to acquire a seat in this first round, but a plurality of
25% is sufficient. (This was changed just before the 2000 election
from a one-third minimum as a compromise between the previous
33% and a suggested simple plurality). If there are still seats to be
filled after the first round there will be a second round, a runoff. In
this round only a simple plurality of the votes is required to be
Electoral system for president
What other country that we
study has this electoral
system for president?
Summary of the 17 and 24 June 2005 Iranian Presidential election results
Candidates Votes 1st % Votes 2nd %
6,159,453 21. round
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 01
5,710,354 19. 93
Mehdi Karroubi 48
5,066,316 17. - 69-
Mohammad Bagher 28
4,075,189 13. - -
4,054,304 13. - -
Ali Larijani 83
1,740,163 5.9 - -
Mohsen Mehralizadeh 4
1,289,323 4.4 - -
Blank or invalid votes 0
1,221,940 4.1 663,770 2.3
Total (turnout 62.66% 7
29,317,042 100 7
He arrives amid a hurricane of swirling brown dust Think Bill and Al's "excellent adventure"
and deafening noise. A dense, rolling cloud of during the 1992 US presidential campaign;
straw and dirt sweeps across the parched field, think Saladin on a soap box; then add a
enveloping turbaned dignitaries, battering the straggly beard, wrinkly, unexpectedly twinkly
hoisted green, white and red flags of Iran, and eyes, a gentle, open-handed style, and a
forcing thousands of enthralled onlookers to shield genuine ability to connect - and you have Mr
their eyes. Ahmadinejad, a local hero (he was formerly
As the rotors of the venerable American-made governor of Ardabil), a would-be champion
Huey 214 chopper spin slowly to a halt, and the of Muslims everywhere, and an unlikely
murk clears, a great, human noise replaces the grassroots superstar.
sound of engines. It is not cheering; more like a The political confidence of a man
giant, murmuring sigh, punctuated by shouts of condemned in the US and Europe for his
joy and the screams of women. . . . threats against Israel and his Holocaust
Mr Ahmadinejad's extraordinary comings and denial is plainly growing. It is the first time
goings are a cross between American-style town the Tehran government has allowed a
meetings, itinerant Islamic evangelism, and pure western reporter to witness one of his
political theatre. barnstorming tours.
Ahmadinejad, at a speech in
Iran last week, again called the
Holocaust a "myth" that was
promoted by Europeans. NYT
DEC 20, 2005
October 27, 2005
Iran's New President Says Israel 'Must Be Wiped Off the Map'
TEHRAN, Oct. 26 - Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told a group of
students at an anti-Israel event on Wednesday that Israel "must be wiped off the map"
and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA news agency reported.
He was speaking to about 4,000 students at a program called "The World Without
Zionism," in preparation for an annual anti-Israel demonstration held on the last Friday
of the holy month of Ramadan.
After casting his ballot, President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad greeted supporters. The election has
seemingly thrown Mr. Ahmadinejad onto the
Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition candidate, held his inked finger aloft after
casting his vote. Opposition leaders said they expected a huge turnout, with
many reformists who sat out the last vote in 2005 saying they will take part this
Hundreds of voters waited outside one of the biggest polling stations in
uptown Tehran, an indication of a high voter turnout in the early hours of
the presidential election.
Women voting at a Tehran mosque.
Iranians went to the polls Friday
after an unusually intense
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei delivered a speech after
casting his vote.
•Iran's tenth presidential election was held on 12 June 2009,with incumbent Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad running against three challengers. The next morning the Islamic Republic
News Agency, Iran's official news agency, announced that with two-thirds of the votes
counted, Ahmadinejad had won the election with 62% of the votes cast, and that Mir-
Hossein Mousavi had received 34% of the votes cast. The European Union,the United
Kingdom, the United States, and several western countries expressed concern over
alleged irregularities during the vote, and many analysts and journalists from the United
States, Europe and other western based media voiced doubts about the authenticity of the
results.Meanwhile many OIC member states, as well as Russia, China, India, and Brazil,
have congratulated Ahmadinejad on his victory.
Popular vote 24,592,793 13,338,121
Percentage 64.22% 33.86%
In a fourth day of mass protests, hundreds of thousands of Iranians flooded Imam
Khomeini Square in Tehran. Many wore black to honor those protesters killed in
the unrest since the Iranian authorities announced a landslide victory for the
incumbent just hours after the polls closed on Friday. When the main opposition
candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, appeared, cheers tore through the crowds. He
stood on top of his car to be seen by the throngs.
As the political tumult in the streets grew, the Iranian government imposed tough
restrictions on foreign journalists, formally shutting down their ability to report on
the unrest on the streets. Press credentials of journalists temporarily in the
country to cover the election were revoked; journalists stationed in Iran were
required to get explicit permission to report beyond the confines of their offices.
The scale of the protests have forced a few concessions, including Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei's call for an inquiry into accusations of vote-tampering and the
Guardian Council's offer to meet with opposition candidates. But many in Iran
viewed the moves as the government's effort to buy time in the hopes of
dampening the momentum of the opposition.
In Iran, an Iron Cleric, Now Blinking
June 17, 2009
Iran Agrees to Partial Recount of Disputed Ballots
By NAZILA FATHI and Alan Cowell
TEHRAN — Less than 24 hours after the largest demonstrations here since the 1979 revolution and the reported deaths of seven protesters,
Guardian Council said Tuesday it was prepared to order a recount of
disputed ballots in Friday’s deeply divisive elections, but ruled out an
annulment of the vote, according to state television and news reports.
The announcement seemed to represent a further reluctant concession
from the authorities following Monday’s decision by the supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to conduct a formal review of the electoral
process, which the opposition says was rigged.
But it fell short of demands by the main opposition candidate, Mir
Hussein Moussavi, and other opponents of President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad for the vote to be annulled so that a new election can be
held. Mr. Moussavi has also said he does not trust the Guardian Council.
The election results, announced Saturday, showed an overwhelming
victory for Mr. Ahmadinejad, who was visiting Russia on Tuesday as the
drama in Iran continued to unfold.
TEHRAN — As Iran’s leaders push back threats to their authority after
the disputed presidential election, crushing street protests and pressing
challengers to withdraw or to limit their objections, the country’s main
electoral oversight group ruled Friday that the ballot had been the
“healthiest” since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
The statement by the 12-member Guardian Council, which is charged
with overseeing and vetting elections, fell short of formal certification of
the ballot. But it offered further evidence that, despite mass
demonstrations and violent confrontation with those who call the election
a fraud, the authorities are intent on enforcing their writ and denying
their adversaries a voice.
Recount Offer Fails to
Quell Political Tumult in
Supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a rally
in Valiasr Square in Tehran on Tuesday
The pledge from Iran's Guardian Council to recount some of the
votes in Friday's election failed to calm protests. Thousands of
Mr. Moussavi's supporters marched in Tehran.
Khamenei Vows Iran
Will Not Yield ‘at
6/25 The government announced on Tuesday its intention to
certify the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center
•December 28, 2009
•Police Are Said to Have Killed 10 in Iran Protests
•By ROBERT F. WORTH and NAZILA FATHI
•BEIRUT, Lebanon — Police officers in Iran opened fire into crowds of protesters
on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, witnesses and opposition Web sites said, in a
day of chaotic street battles that threatened to deepen the country’s civil unrest.
•The protests, during the holiday commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, Shiite
Islam’s holiest martyr, were the bloodiest and among the largest since the uprisings
that followed the disputed presidential election last June, witnesses said. Hundreds of
people were reported wounded in cities across the country, and the Tehran police said
they had made 300 arrests.
Iran MPs want death penalty for
•Members of the Iranian parliament shout slogans calling for the execution of opposition
leaders before the start of their session in Tehran February 15, 2011. — Reuters pic
Relationship b/w President and Supreme Leader
Ahmadinejad, left, and chief
cleric Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ahmadinejad, at Columbia, Parries
Students and protesters gathering at
Columbia University, where
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of
Iran spoke yesterday.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, right,
at Columbia University Monday with John H.
Coatsworth, discussion moderator and dean of
the School of International and Public Affairs