Protests in Iran have been going on for about a week, with thousands of Iranian citizens taking to the street to protest the results of a presidential election that they think was rigged.
The current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced the winner in a landslide victory, over the more moderate and popular candidate, Mir Hossain Moussavi. Many disputed the results, mainly because the votes were counted in an unrealistic amount of time (almost 40 million votes counted by hand in 2 hours…)
Live "#iran" from Twitter
So what’s going on now? The Guardian Council says it will look into some of the votes that were cast in the election. The Guardian Council is the second-most influential group in Iran politics. It’s made up of six theologians (religious leaders) and they approve all candidates who run for office in the country, as well as OK the election results.
The Guardian Council has a ton of power, and so does the president if he works with them. Ahmadinejad, who many call a dictator, has worked closely with the Guardian Council since he was first elected in 2005. The other candidate, Mousavi, has tried to push reforms through the government, but the Guardian Council has not cooperated with his attempts.
Young people are showing up in force to support the defeated Mir-Hossein Mousavi and have been getting around roadblocks, like the government banning foreign journalists and shutting down other Iranian news sources. So what did they do? Took to Twitter of course, letting other people know where to come out and demonstrate using the social networking site.
The role of Twitter has been so big in Iran that Twitter was asked by the U.S. State Department to postpone maintenance that could shut the site down. Twitter agreed saying it made sense “during this highly visible global event.” Last week there were scattered street demonstrations against the election results, but this week Iranians have used technology to get hundreds of thousands of people at demonstrations in the capital. Who knew tweeting could be so revolutionary? The so-called ‘Twitter Revolution’ in Iran has proven an incredible tool for activists around the world.
Twitter has allowed Iranians to speak their minds, organize to take action, and let the world know what’s going on even though the government is trying to contain news of the rebellion.
The government has since blocked Twitter in Iran, but some tech-savy people are getting around the blocks. Others are turning to texting and other types of online organizing to keep their message out there.
Still wondering just what exactly is going on over there? Find out more...
How is the government run in Iran? Who is Ahmadinejad?
Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, when their king was overthrown, the country has been led by an elected leader and unelected religious leaders. Ahmadinejad won the presidential election in 2005, and many think his current claim of a “landslide victory” in the 2009 election solidifies his place as a perceived dictator. He has made strong comments against the U.S. and Israel, and is believed to be beefing up Iran’s nuclear arms supply.
Was the election rigged?
Iran runs a tight ship and there were no non-governmental monitors to oversee the election over there, but there are a lot of things that point to an unfair election.
The government said it would take three days to OK ballots after the June 12 election, but two hours after all the polls closed, they announced Ahmadinejad the winner. Their interior ministry announced that 85% of the country’s 46 million eligible voters came out to vote. Not only is this a record number, but seeing as the ballots are hand-counted, it’s almost impossible that nearly 40 million ballots were counted in such a short time.
So did Mousavi win?
Not necessarily. Ahmadinejad may have won, but the election was probably not conducted fairly. Despite his extremist views, Ahmadinejad is popular in parts of Iran and has the support of the Guardian Council and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei who has final say over everything that goes on in Iran, and who can sway votes with his opinion and actions.
But, it is also possible that the popular and less hard-line Mousavi won, and he has the support of young people in Iran, which as the 2008 U.S. election proved, can win the election for a candidate. Iran has a really young population because during the revolution that occurred in 1979, leaders encouraged people to marry young and have kids early. Now these kids are growing up and reacting to an outcome they don’t like.
Iranian-Americans are protesting in Washington D.C. and L.A. today, and in Iran Iranians are wearing black to continue their protests of the alleged election fraud, and to mourn the people who have died in the violence that has at times accompanied the protests.
Government authorities continue to crack down on the protests, jailing some demonstrators and blocking Twitter and Facebook.
Iran’s Revolutionary Corps Guard Corps said it will take legal action against websites that are encouraging people to riot.
What can you do?
Stay tuned for more updates throughout the week!.