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June 10, 2009
Race heats up ahead of Iran’s presidential election

Iran’s presidential election is set for Friday, and the race between the incumbent, Mahmound Ahmadinejad, and his rivals is heating up.

Ahmadinejad appeared in a debate on Monday with another conservative candidate who is a former commander of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, while supporters of both men held rallies on the streets of Tehran.

Below, view a slideshow of Iran’s election fever:

A blogger at “Tehran Post” describes how the debates have invigorated the country:

As you might know private television channels are forbidden by the law in Iran. In general, power-holders are really touchy about any media that could challenge their authority.

However, presidential elections in Iran are a chance for people to find out about diverse, mostly dissident political views in the state-run TV and get relieved from the official political propaganda that could not be cornier. Candidates are allotted equal time to talk about their plans with the citizens.

Campaign season in Iran.

[…]When 2 A.M. in the morning Tajrish Square in north of Tehran becomes the scene of gathering of Ahmadinejad and Musavi’s supporters, both celebrating their candidate’s victory, clear it becomes that the debate has been one with a deep impact, one that Iranians remember for a long time. […] I wish [we] had a presidential election everyday in Iran! The sense of freedom is really great!

An Iranian blogger at “Sidewalk Lyrics” talks about why the election has mobilized Iran’s youth:

I wish I was in Tehran right now. Not because I like a particular candidate. Not because I believe in change or hope or even elections.

But because some election seasons, that dark, haunted city is sprinkled with life and color. Like a flower that blooms to life every few years, only to fall back into a deep, incurable coma for which you are never certain there will be an awakening.

I contemplate what could have been, what should have been but what never is, while it dances vividly all around me and I know that its death, like its birth, I will soon see.

And every time, I can’t help but wonder: maybe, this time around, the ending will be different.

People around the world find it fascinating, pathetic or strange that we Iranian youth have flown into the streets the way we have. We have done so out of desperation, fatigue, hope and curiosity.

Mousavi became prime minister two years before I was born. One year after the war. Two years after a revolution. In the midst of chaos and bloodshed of unimaginable proportions. Times were not easy, for anyone. And there we were, dropped into this world amidst all of that.

I will be a 25 year old tomorrow when I go out to vote. Second chances don’t come easy Mr. President. Whoever you may turn out to be.

Watch a video of Ahmadinejad’s supporters celebrating following one debate from YouTube user kelashinkof:

Blogger “Kamran,” an Iranian expatriate, explains why he plans to vote despite a lack of faith in the candidates:

A short telephone conversation to a couple of friends in Iran yesterday turned into an afternoon-long debate about the upcoming election.

My simple question about the latest campaign news produced brand new jokes about the candidates. They tell me that they have heard all these promises before and remind me that it wasn’t long ago that the president was Khatami.

[…]I will take a 45 minute train trip to go to Iranian embassy in The Hague to vote.  I don’t believe in these people and do not think any of the candidates can solve the enormous challenges we face, but I am still voting. During the past thirty years, our rights as Iranian citizens have been constantly under attack. This has been true despite many promises of protection and invitations to engage in the building of our society.

I am voting with the hope that not only the hardline government will change, but that we will build a more democratic society where women’s rights, a free press, free speech, and human rights are not a dream. Last 4 years proved our right can be in more danger than we could even imagine.

Being part of this initiative was unthinkable for me just four years ago. Four years of right-wing Ahmadinejad has put Iran on a downward path. I believe that Iranian expats should play a more constructive role and not keep waiting for some magical transformation of power.

Photos courtesy of Flickr users under a Creative Commons license.

For more, view our Voices of Iran extended coverage page and listen to our online radio show on Baha’i faith and modern Iran.

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