Iran’s Voters Re-Elect the Past, Many Claim Fraud

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In Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been declared the Presidential election’s winner. The city took down the internet and blocked text messages, according to an AP story and protesters have been throwing rocks and making fires in the streets, tangling with black-clad police.

When I visited Iran in November, I asked many young people what they thought about their president, and the reaction was universal: We don’t pay any attention to him. This uniform desire to ignore voting and politics contrasted with how bothered some of the young women were by the cruising morality police and the restrictions on freedom of dress and expressions of love with boyfriends. I pressed my friend Orchid, asking her if she didn’t agree that voting against a fool like Ahmadinejad was worth the effort. “They’re all rigged, it’s all a fraud,” she insisted.

Today’s AP story said that the real leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, has closed the door to any compromise with the opposition, who maintain that this election was rigged, and even the US has refused to accept the notion of a 62-34 million landslide victory for the incumbent.

I think back to my time in Tehran where I had time to walk the streets of North Tehran and our trip out into the desert where I got to see young people bask in the freedom of not wearing headscarves, talking freely, and holding hands with their partners. I read about Iran with an eagerness to see change, and hope that the Mullahs and backward-looking leaders are voted out. But then when I think about how steadfast the apathy was in the young people I met, I realize it will take a lot longer to see real change there.