What exactly happened in Iran in June 2009? Why, when Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005 failed to spark any protests, did the Iranian people take to the streets after his re-election four years later? What are the precise characteristics of the protest movement that emerged following the disputed 12 June 2009 election? Who were the young people who chanted, “Where is my vote Moussavi?”, dressed in green in reference to Mir Hossein Moussavi, the defeated candidate who advocated a rational, tolerant and democratic form of Islam, open to the world? Elections have always been rigged in Iran, so why did the June 2009 results spark such a profound institutional crisis, taking the political arena into the street? The demonstrations between 13 and 18 June 2009 attracted between 2 and 3 million Iranians in Teheran and the country’s main cities, making them an unprecedented phenomenon in the Islamic Republic’s 30-year history: does this hold out the promise of the emergence the rule of law, incompatible with the dominant religious oligarchy? What is the socioeconomic profile of the youth movement that defied the ultra-conservatism reinforced by Ahmadinejad’s populism and nationalism? Do the June 2009 protests signal the end of the sacred aura enshrining Islamic power? Should we fear a confrontation with religious institutions claming divine right?
Our first aim will be to answer these questions, first by putting the issues at stake in the 12 June 2009 election back into context, then by positioning the incumbent regime in relation to change in Iranian society, particularly with respect to the country’s youth, which carries the seeds of a democratic Iran. We will close by outlining the structural obstacles that are hindering Iran’s youth in this respect.

Author

Nader VAHABI
Centre d’études sur la diaspora iranienne (France)