Is Hassan Rouhani a true reformist or a carpetbagger?

So is the new president of Iran a true reformist? Is he Khamenei’s surprise to Iranian people to cleanse himself partially of the catastrophes of the last elections? Ahmadinejad’s 8 year parenthesis is finally closed (with a four year delay) but questions remain amid the euphoria of Iranians.


He never even vouched for the green movement yet people voted for him. Can Iranians finally begin to hope for easier times? The world needs a moderate Iran to calm down the chaos of the Middle East. I hope (against my better judgment) that the new president wants and can make a good difference…

sina shiri farsn ews iran

“He has three law degrees, including a doctorate from a university in Scotland, and as president of Iran’s strategic research center, he regularly publishes essays. Rouhani is more likely to at least speak more diplomatically to internal and external challengers. And unlike Ahmadinejad, when addressing United States politicians and citizens, he may not need a translator” says Ben Brumfield. 


These are some pictures of the spontaneous celebrations in Iran even though “Rouhani has not called for an overall sweeping shift in Iran’s foreign policy. For instance, Rouhani has neither asked Assad to step down from power nor pressed to halt the Islamic Republic of Iran’s military, intelligence, financial, and advisory support to Damascus” says Majid Rafizadeh.


The pictures are from Arash Ashoorinia:


The irony of having a Hassan in Iran and a Hossein in the U.S. as presidents is not lost on us, Iranians, who all grew up with the names of these Shia martyrs… 😉

These young people were happy to oblige and let me take the below picture in a restaurant in Tehran last month (I went back to Iran after 20 years); did they know something was happening?

young people iran tilit michele roohani

Let’s hope for the change in spite of all our doubts!

chappatte iran

I love these cartoons by Joep Bertrams (below) and Patrick Chappatte (above):


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.