Election: Iran's decision to oust Ahmadinejad – or not
Voters flocked to the polls to weigh in on the country's faltering economy and aggressive foreign policy.
(Page 2 of 2)
"We should not be fearful about the free flow of information, and I urge officials to observe the law," said Mousavi.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
When polls were meant to close at 9 p.m., already there were reports – confirmed by eyewitnesses and a video uploaded to the Internet – that about a dozen pro-Ahmadinejad basiji militants with pistols and pepper spray moved to shut down the Mousavi headquarters in the religious north Tehran district of Qeytariyeh. One witness described a fire at another Mousavi location.
Defiant voters: 'We each are a nuclear bomb'
Mr. Khatami, who remains one of the most popular politicians in Iran despite the collapse of the reform movement from the late 1990s, said after voting on Friday: "All indications suggest that Mousavi has won."
But the trend was hardly all pro-Mousavi. In Shahr-e Rey, a suburb of south Tehran where Mousavi voted, most of the graffiti and posters on walls hailed Ahmadinejad.
The combative television debates and street demonstrations "showed democracy in our country, the honor of our country, because of the enthusiasm and because of the freedom of speech," said a banker called Nafiseh.
She accused the US and the West of meddling in Iranian affairs and said Ahmadinejad's aggressive and principled stands were correct: "We consider elections to be a war," said Nafiseh. "They say we have nuclear weapons, but the fact is we each are a nuclear bomb. The more they say against us, the stronger we become."
But even as she spoke, another woman dressed all in black stepped up and retorted in English: "Ahmadinejad is a big liar, 100 percent!" said Fatemeh. "In four years [he] has lied to Iran, all our foreign policy is so bad. The oil of Iran goes to [Lebanese militant group] Hezbollah, and not to us."
'Mousavi is a correct thinker'
Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, voted the moment polls opened, and called upon all Iranians to vote and "have their share in governing the country and to choose who is best fit to govern the country for the next four years."
Ayatollah Khamenei thanked Iranians for their "enthusiastic presence in the past few days in the elections [campaigning]," adding that "with their improved maturity, morality, and thought, did not allow any sad scenes to be created amidst the enthusiasm."
Khamenei warned against believing rumors about him and the elections, which he said were passed along by people with "unsound minds."
Those rumors did not affect the debate inside one family. Housewife Zahra Khalili held her 7-month-old baby outside a polling station, and is a strong supporter of Ahmadinejad, who she said "God willing" would be reelected.
But her brother-in-law, a teacher standing beside her, was not convinced. "Mousavi is a correct thinker," said Asghar Davoudi. "We don't want a liar. Living simply [like Ahmadinejad] is not important. Doing good work, being active, is much better."
Perhaps Ahmadinejad summed it up best after he voted. The location where the archconservative would vote was a closely held secret until the last moment – apparently out of safety concerns, sources close to his campaign said – so only a handful of photographers were on hand.
After voting, the president said: "People's strong, revolutionary, and clear decision will bring about a bright future for the nation."