The Iranian presidential election will decide the future of the Middle East

Who knew that Hossein will be such a popular name in the world? Everywhere I turn, there is a Hossein (Hussain) waiting for me: Hussein Obama, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Hussain (Usain) Bolt, etc…

persian calligraphy thorns have roses micheleroohani michele roohani

The Iranian presidential elections will be held on June 12th and the future of the Middle East is depending on the outcome. The reformist, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is the only serious contender against Ahmadinejad; It’s funny that an architect/painter can be a threat to the incumbent president of the islamic republic of Iran. In my native country, thorns have roses…

appollinare calligraphy iran micheleroohani michele roohani

I made the above images on a bout of “latent nationalism” while reading about how these elections can alter the future of the region—from Morocco to Lahore. I had time to appreciate Obama’s eloquent (and super pragmatic) speech in Cairo but Iranians didn’t—they were too busy with their own explosive presidential debates!

It’s hard to get excited about any of the four candidates (the two other candidates are basically collecting votes for Mousavi) who are all deeply connected to the islamic republic. Ready for an American embassy opening in Tehran by next year?

mousavi rahnavard president iran

How strange that we, Persian women, have to be happy about Mousavi pulling a Michelle Obama by bringing his wife, Zahra Rahnavard (an artist and political scientist) to his side on political rallies! Just shoot me but I have to be content that this lady is wearing a “liberal” scarf under her chador…

This reminds me of this image of Iran in a chador (the face of this woman is the map of Iran) and the beautiful poem by Parvin Etesami:

parvin etesami iran poet woman michele roohani

She wrote it in 1935 lamenting the life of Iranian women before Reza Shah did away (sometimes by force) with their chadors (1928) and opened the schools’ doors to them. Etesami and the Shah must be spinning in their graves…

New York Times has some cool pictures like this one from my favorite Iranian photographer, Newsha Tavakolian.

iranian elections women newsha tavakolian michele roohani

I just found out that this dude, Mousavi,  has “Khameneh” at the end of his last name—yet another unfortunate KH for all of you non-persians. To see the funny side of it click here.

iranian woman ann curry nbc news micheleroohani

NBC’s Ann Curry took these pictures to show the divide:

iranian woman chador isfahan ann curry nbc news micheleroohani

Yesterday, I attended a lecture by Mohsen Kadivar (aka the critical cleric) at UCLA that didn’t alter my view about religion; even the progressive mullahs (the picture is Dr. Kadivar in his full mojtahed regalia and “sans”) can only whitewash the problems of mixing religion with the state.

mohsen kadivar progressive cleric

Hezbollah just lost the Lebanese parliamentary elections—the West is breathing a sigh of relief.

Related and Suggested Posts and Resources:

a short CNN clip about the Iranian Michelle Obama here.
the New York Times article here.
Parvin Etesami here.
to read her poem in Persian in its entirety here.
Iranian Elections  here.
Zahra Rahnavard  here.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi go here.
Struggles of Iranian women, check out Rakhshan Bani Etemad’s clips here.
Parviz Tanavoli’s (the great Iranian sculptor who taught Ms. Rahnavard) interview with Ann Curry here.

p.s. I did the calligraphy on the first image using one of my favorite poems by Hamid Mosadegh.

iranian women voting in presidential elections michele roohani

updated on 6/13/09:

There’s been unrest since yesterday in Iran after the results of the presidential elections were made public: Ahmadinejad won with over 62% of the votes. I am amazed at the arrogance of this regime; the images seen on BBC, CNN and NY Times remind me of Iran i left in 1978/79.

7 thoughts on “The Iranian presidential election will decide the future of the Middle East

  1. As you said it’s one of the biggest election campaigns I have seen in Iran, probably the most organized so far (the one that brought Khatami to power wasn’t as organized). And the Live TV debates are novel and unprecedented in Iranian history.

    The best thing about this election is that things are becoming increasingly transparent, and fortunately without any foreign interference and any kind of stupid red or orange or velvet revolution. All grass-root and home grown.

    But to be honest, the plans of neither Moosavi nor Karroobi are dramatically different from what we’ve seen in the past 30 years: lots of talk, no concrete and well-thought plans. As a matter of fact, the economic reform plans that Ahmadinejad has put forward are the most radical ones, and at least theoretically the best ones for Iran. That includes the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT), removing heavy subsidies from energy, and a prioritized social welfare plan. Also, he has given the most structured and focused TV debates of them all so far.

    On the other hand, Moosavi’s team has promoted greater social freedoms and a revival in art. That is fuelling lots of emotional support for him. Moosavi himself has never actually promised greater social freedoms any more than Karroobi or Ahmadinejad have.

    It’s an interesting election, and very unpredictable, again!

  2. Nice graphics Michele!
    My hope is that despite the limited number of candidates available for election, that the candidate with a vision of reengaging Iran in global politics and away from isolation is the one elected. Unfortunately, the politics of Iran and its parties, much like its soccer team, seem disjointed at the present time. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for another couple of weeks. There may still be a last minute goal in this in this match.

  3. Oui, biensur c’est une décision importante pour les changements et on va attendre le ciel qui peut-être auront plu et nous sauvra du feu qui est allumé par les fous,il y a de quoi devenir fou!!!
    Yes , we all waite for changes because we know now Iran ,however is too far to our ideal ,but it is just near by the fire maybe this raining could help us,we just should cross finger for Iran

  4. Until the elections in Iran are over, I’ll keep my fingers crossed hoping for some change to come to Iran.

    But with 4 candidates the wait might be long, because it seems quite likely none of them will attain a majority in the first round.

  5. I am voting for Mousavi today, but I also reject US “ultimatums” to Iran. The days of servitude to the west ended w./ the revolution in 1979 in case they have forgotten. But I am also bothered by many of these fake “supporters” of Mousavi and their ulterior motives. As for Iran’s foreign policy, the west should know their will be NO backtracking on Iran’s nuclear rights.

    Ta Zendeim, Razmandeim!

  6. There’s been unrest since yesterday in Iran after the results of the presidential elections were made public: Ahmadinejad won with over 62% of the votes. I am amazed at the arrogance of this regime; the images seen on BBC, CNN and NY Times remind me of Iran i left in 1978/79.

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