Back in June 2009, few could have predicted the scenes. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians of all ages and from all walks of life spontaneously filling the streets to protest about an election result that returned to power the hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But after a remarkably free-spirited election campaign, marked by lively rallies in which women, unusually, played a vocal part, democracy activists felt they had historic momentum behind them.
The so-called “Green Movement” briefly enjoyed support from both the streets and the establishment. It seemed to offer a real challenge to the authority of the tightly knit ruling cabal, and even to that of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.