An Artist as President of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

by Shiva Balaghi | published June 8, 2009

Something’s happening here. In one of the largest street demonstrations in Tehran since the 1979 revolution, thousands filled Vali Asr Street (formerly known as Pahlavi Street) on Monday, forming a human chain nearly 12 miles long and stopping traffic for nearly five hours. They wore strips of green cloth around their wrists and heads in support of presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. They sang “Ey Iran,” the unofficial national anthem composed in the Pahlavi era by one of the leading figures of classical Persian music, the late Ruhollah Khaleghi. Banned for a time by the Islamic Republic, the song’s lyrical melody touches a deeply patriotic vein.

Tehran, June 2009

by Kaveh Ehsani , Arang Keshavarzian , Norma Claire Moruzzi | published June 28, 2009

The morning after Iran’s June 12 presidential election, Iranians booted up their computers to find Fars News, the online mouthpiece of the Islamic Republic’s security apparatus, heralding the dawn of a “third revolution.” Many an ordinary Iranian, and many a Western pundit, had already adopted such dramatic language to describe the burgeoning street demonstrations against the declaration by the Ministry of Interior that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the sitting president, had received 64 percent of the vote to 34 percent for his main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

War Is Peace, Sanctions Are Diplomacy

by Carah Ong | published November 23, 2007

The White House is pressing ahead with its stated goal of persuading the UN Security Council to pass far-reaching sanctions to punish Iran for refusing to suspend its nuclear research program. Sanctions are what President George W. Bush is referring to when he pledges to nervous US allies that he intends to “continue to work together to solve this problem diplomatically.” The non-diplomatic solution in this framing of the “problem,” presumably, would be airstrikes on nuclear facilities in the Islamic Republic.

Iran's “Security Outlook”

by Farideh Farhi | published July 9, 2007

Widespread apprehension attended the June 2005 election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, at least among those Iranians who had approved of the country’s direction under the reformist clerics led by President Mohammad Khatami. Their worries had little to do with Ahmadinejad’s signature campaign issue, the flagging Iranian economy, and much to do with potential reversal of the political and cultural opening under Khatami, now that hardline conservatives controlled every branch of the government.

Bring In the Dead

Martyr Burials and Election Politics in Iran

by Rasmus Christian Elling | published March 19, 2009

Beating their chests and wearing black, a procession of young men and women filed toward the gates of Tehran’s Amir Kabir Polytechnic University on February 23. The mourners -- drawn primarily from the ranks of the Basij militia and unaffiliated hardline Islamist vigilantes -- were carrying the remains of five unknown soldiers, martyred during the 1980-88 war with Iraq, to campus, where they intended to rebury them. Inside the gates, a gathering of angry students had assembled to protest what they saw as a blatant show of state force, and when the procession crossed onto campus, a confrontation ensued. Students claimed the fight pitted 1,500 protesters against a smaller group of mourners, most of whom were armed with clubs, knives and martial arts weapons.

The Song Does Not Remain the Same

by Ramin Sadighi , Sohrab Mahdavi | published March 12, 2009

Starting in the late 1990s, and especially following two stories by CNN's chief international correspondent, the British-Iranian Christiane Amanpour, Westerners were treated to a slew of articles and broadcast reports aiming to “lift the veil” on Iran. Amanpour’s second story revolved around “youth and the party scene.” She visited the house of another hyphenated Iranian to show a group reveling in youthful abandon, toasting each other with alcoholic drinks to the tune of playful music, and so consuming two illegal items of consequence in the Islamic Republic. With youth, it seemed, came merriment and rebelliousness.

The Green Movement Awaits an Invisible Hand

by Mohammad Maljoo | published June 26, 2010

It is the custom of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to devise a name for each Persian new year when it arrives. On Nowruz of the Persian year 1388, which fell in March 2009 Gregorian time, he proclaimed “the year of rectifying consumption patterns.” But Iranians would not be content to mark 1388 simply with thrift. That year of the Persian calendar turned out to be the most politically tumultuous since the revolution that toppled the Shah, as the loosely constituted Green Movement mounted massive street protests against election fraud.

High Stakes for Iran

by Kaveh Ehsani
published in MER227

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Football and Film in the Islamic Republic of Iran

by Shiva Balaghi
published in MER229

Maziar Bahari opens his documentary, Football Iranian Style (2001), at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, where a large mural of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic until his death in 1989, peers down on the 110,000 soccer fans filling the bleachers. Like 75 percent of Iran’s population, most of the crowd is under the age of 25. Bahari’s lens focuses on a security guard chastising a dancing spectator and pushing him down into his seat. Undeterred, the young fan kisses the guard’s face and resumes his rabble rousing.