Today, voters in Iran cast ballots for a new President–choosing from a field of eight candidates that includes hardline clerics and reformers. The campaign has underscored how dramatically political life inside Iran has changed in recent years.
Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, has been in Iran during the final days of the presidential election, interviewing a wide range of people. In an article this past week, he reported: “The Moin campaign [Mostafa Moin is the leading reformist candidate who polls show as the second choice. He is also the only candidate with an active blog] drew 10,000 people to a rally at Tehran stadium Tuesday night. A number of speakers emphasized that the campaign is aiming to lay the groundwork for a movement–and this election is just the beginning…The Tehran Time reported Wednesday [that] the outspoken Moin ‘referred to the upcoming establishment of a Democracy and Human Rights Front in Iran to defend the rights of all Iran’s religious and ethnic groups, the youth, academicians, women and political opposition groups whose rights are often neglected..'”
“In a country, ” Solomon observed, “where political imprisonment and torture continue, such public statements are emblematic of a courageous movement struggling to emerge from the shadows of the Islamic Republic. “
But that movement for human rights and democracy needs to develop indigenously. As Nobel Peace Prize winner–and Iranian human rights lawyer and activist–Shirin Ebadi warned last year, US government support for Iran’s dissidents might not only deprive them of authenticity in their own land but, worse, could stigmatize them as proxies of American neocons intent on regime change.
Or, as Solomon argues: “Iran’s most repressive clerics and the USA’s most militaristic neocons share a common interest: They’re very eager to see the failure of Iranian activism for democracy and human rights…The hardliners in both countries need each other. Theirs is a perverse, mutual dependency that dares not speak its name.”
If you want to diversify your newsfeed about this fascinating election–and understand what it may mean for the future of that country–check out the ten blogs I wrote about earlier this month.
As one of Iran’s leading bloggers Hossein Derakhshan recently pointed out, the country’s many blogs (Iran has 75,000 bloggers) are generating “an unprecedented amount of information.” In fact, as he observed: this election “will probably be one of the most open and transparent” Iran has ever seen.