Friday 23 February 2018

Campaign for reform is still alive and well

Con Coughlin

The surprise emergence of Hassan Rowhani, a portly, softly spoken cleric, as the victor in Iran's presidential election contest serves as a timely reminder that for all the setbacks it has endured, the country's reform movement remains a key player in Iranian politics.

Following the emergence of the reformist Green Movement during the previous contest in 2009, when former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi came close to defeating President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hardline supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's Supreme Leader, have waged a relentless campaign of oppression to crush the protest movement.

Leading reformers such as Mr Mousavi have been placed under house arrest, while thousands of activists have been jailed and tortured. During the run-up to the latest contest, the Revolutionary Guards were reported to have set up a network of secret prisons to detain anti-regime activists.

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