2009 vs now: How Iran’s new protests compare to the past

Religion News Service | 1/3/2018 | Lee Keath
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CAIRO (AP) — Nearly nine years ago, the upheaval was stunning. Massive crowds marched through the streets of Iran’s capital and other cities demanding change in the first major unrest to shake the rule of hard-line Muslim clerics over the country since they came to power in 1979.

It was sparked in the summer of 2009 when the reformist opposition raised accusations that the re-election victory of the hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was rigged. The response was an earthquake. Pent-up resentment over political oppression brought millions nationwide out in protests over the next months, becoming known as the “Green Movement.”

Response - Iran - Ruling - Establishment - Supreme

Eventually, the response of Iran’s ruling establishment, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was brutal. The elite Revolutionary Guard and their volunteer force known as the Basij cracked down, opening fire on marchers and launching a wave of arrests. Dozens were killed, many more were jailed and tortured. The movement’s political leadership was put under house arrest.

Now Iran’s Islamic Republic is seeing a new, equally startling wave of unrest. This time it appears more amorphous and spontaneous, fueled by anger over a still-faltering economy, unemployment and corruption. Since last Thursday, protests have burst out in towns and cities around the country. At least 21 people have been killed. With no central movement behind the unrest, its supporters on social media have come to refer to it with any number of hashtags — or simply as “Tazahorat-e Sarasari” — Farsi for “Protests Everywhere.”

Look - Differences - Hints

Here’s a look at the differences between 2009 and now that could give hints on what happens next.

In 2009, the demonstrations swelled to throngs of hundreds of thousands on some days and were focused in Iran’s main cities and provincial capitals, including Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz.

Contrast - Days - Fury - Cities

In contrast, the past days’ fury has burst out mainly in mid-size cities and...
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