Despite four years of non-stop pressure, arrests and intimidation, Iran’s dissidents still find ways to show their resilience. Protest messages still ricochet around social media despite Iran’s cyber cops’ attempts to control the Web. Angry graffiti pops up and then quickly painted over by authorities. Mourners at the funeral of a dissident cleric flashed V-for-victory gestures and chanted against the state. But just a look at the sidewalks around Tehran’s Mellat Park shows how far Iran’s opposition has fallen as the country prepares for Friday’s presidential election.
Iran has witnessed a rare show of political dissent in the run-up to next week’s presidential election after mourners chanted anti-regime slogans at the mass funeral of a dissident cleric, according to amateur video footage. Chants of “death to the dictator” and “dictator, dictator, may your sleep be disturbed” were heard on videos of the funeral procession in Isfahan, Iran’s second city, following the death of Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri, who died on Sunday, aged 87. The footage – whose authenticity cannot be verified – also contained chants in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, presidential candidates in the country’s fraud-tainted 2009 election, who have been under house arrest for more than two years. Marchers were heard on one video chanting: “Mousavi and Karroubi must be released.”
Authorities in Iran have imposed a six-month ban on a newspaper linked to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country’s president, as tensions rise in the run-up to next week’s presidential election. The prohibition on Iran, a state-owned newspaper under the administration of Mr Ahmadinejad’s government, was imposed for “false reporting”, according to local news agencies, although they did not elaborate. The ban is the latest sign of Mr Ahmadinejad’s increasing marginalisation within Iran’s theocratic system.
The Public Relations Center of the Administration of the President of Iran published a press release rejecting information with reference to some president’s allies about existence of a record showing a fraud that happened during the presidential elections in 2009. On Monday, some media outlets in Iran released news about a record of Ahmadinjad’s conversation with some officials after the presidential elections. According to them, the alleged record shows that some Iranian authorities forced Ahmadinejad to announce that he canvassed 24 million votes, while his real votes were only 16 million. According to the claims, Ahmadinejad first disagreed, but they insisted upon their plan to show a large difference between the votes canvassed by Ahmadinejad and his major rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Six months ahead of a vote that will end to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contentious presidency, talk of elections has already prompted top-level controversies in Tehran. This week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asked officials not to make statements insinuating that previous elections were not free. The 73-year-old was speaking to a group of devout crowds from the holy city of Qom. In his speech, Khamenei criticised senior politicians who have indirectly cast doubt on the fairness of Iran’s electoral record.
Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari has accused the Revolutionary Guards Corps of “meddling” in the country’s 2012 parliamentary elections. Addressing fellow parliamentarians on Sunday, Motahari said the IRGC’s role in the 2 March elections was a “point of weakness” for the elite fighting force. He argued that the IRGC’s involvement in the vote had had a “damaging” impact on the IRGC, as well as the Islamic Republic itself. “The IRGC’s interference in many of the polling stations was evident and many of the candidates—both those who were elected and those who weren’t—confirm this reality.” The MP stated that during the election process, the IRGC “seriously backed” candidates it wished to see in parliament. “The IRGC’s interference in the elections was damaging to itself, and a danger to the revolution and the Islamic system.” While serving as MP in the eighth Majlis, Ali Motahari, the son of the late Ayatollah Motahari, one of the Islamic Republic’s principal theoreticians and founders, also led the initiative to question Ahmadinejad, albeit unsuccessfully.