The protests of the young and old in Tehran have been more than inspiring. But real political reform isn’t taking place on the streets of Iran,‚ it’s taking place behind the scenes.
A power struggle between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Assembly of Experts, which, theoretically, has the power to remove the Ayatollah from power. That’s the key.
If any reform to Iran’s current Islamic Republic is to happen, it would have to take place with the help of both religious and political leaders.
This past week, religious leaders from the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum called the current government illegitimate. This declaration may signal the beginning a domino effect.
Perhaps other religious leaders with even more political power, such as those on the Assembly of Experts or the Expediency Council, may be inspired to voice their opinions regarding Ahmadinejad’s “victory” and what role Ayatollah Khamenei played in ensuring it.
The Association’s move is highly rebellious. It’s a group of religious clerics opposing election results verified by the Supreme Leader. It’s real opposition.
In 1979, when the people of Iran rebelled and organized a revolution to overthrow the Shah and his monarchy and install the current Islamic Republic under, at that time, Ayatollah Khomeini, this is not what they had in mind. This life full of oppression was not their ideal.
Soon after the revolution, all western media influence was banned. The freedom of the people was severely hampered, and women especially felt the Ayatollah’s strong arm of oppression come crashing down from his pedestal.
According to Jian Ghomeshi, a prominent Iranian-Canadian broadcaster with the CBC, people have been unhappy with their government since that revolution. Though they were victorious in overthrowing the Shah, they failed to secure the freedoms they so sorely desired.
So it was back to square one, and now 30 years later, a revolution is brewing again. But this time, more work needs to be done behind the scenes. The people will fight, but religious leaders and Hashemi Rafsanjani need to challenge the legitimacy of this government before it gets out of hand.
Watch the short AlJazeera English documentary, “Mousavi and the Masses” below to learn more about Mousavi’s past as Prime Minister during the early years of the Islamic Republic and how his political ideologies have seemingly changed so much since the 1980s.