Despite facing the worst political crisis since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established his uncompromising Islamic theocracy in February 1979, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters were still able to summon hundreds of thousands of pro-government supporters onto the streets.
In many respects the atmosphere in Tehran on Thursday was not dissimilar to that in 1979, when government forces battled to prevent anti-government protesters from voicing their opposition to the hardline clerics that control the country.
Thirty-one years ago the main challenge for Khomeini and his supporters was to prevent a motley collection of Iranian communists, socialists and nationalists from making their own claims to form the government that would replace the Shah’s detested regime. On that occasion the street protests quickly led to summary executions, with Khomeini’s supporters setting up special courts to try those accused of trying to prevent Khomeini from establishing his Islamic dictatorship.
Many Iranian opposition groups now fear that history might repeat itself as the heirs to Khomeini’s revolution, such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, will resort to similar tactics as they try to suppress the pro-reform movement that has grown in strength since last summer’s hotly disputed election contest.
Attempts by pro-reform demonstrators to match the strength of the pro-government support… >>>