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Fletcher School doctoral students Patrick Meier and Joshua Gleis weigh in on the recent Iranian protests.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.13.09] Within hours of the June 12 re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, massive protests broke out within the country, stirring up a worldwide outcry condemning the election as a fraud.
Fletcher School students Patrick Meier and Joshua Gleis recently spoke with E-News to discuss what they felt were some of the most surprising elements of the events in Iran and what they felt the media has not addressed.
Aside from his PhD work at The Fletcher School, Meier also works with the group DigiActive, a volunteer initiative that promotes the use of digital technology for political empowerment. Meier co-taught an Ex-College class in Spring 2009 on digital democracy.
Note: In Meier's discussion of Twitter users providing proxy addresses for people in Tehran, he is discussing what was done, not promoting it as a good idea. In portions of the interview that were cut due to time constraints, Meier discussed how because of the public nature of Twitter, the regime was able to shut down proxy server access as quickly as they were posted.
I think this whole reform movement uprising came as a surprise to both the Iranian government and the international community as a whole.
For the West, the main concern with Iran has been its nuclear program and its support for terrorist organizations. [Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the failed presidential candidate,] was unlikely to have made great changes to Iran's nuclear program, as he was Prime Minister back when that program was launched. But because he was considered a reformer, and as Ahmadinejad had secured his relationship both with the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei as well as the Revolutionary Guards, Mousavi was not allowed to win the recent elections.
By manipulating the elections the current Iranian regime showed its true colors to the Iranian community, and helped highlight that they are definitely not living in a democracy despite elections. I think the real movement in Iran, being led by the youth, with a particularly strong leadership role from women, came as a real surprise to nearly everyone in and out of Iran. Anybody that says they predicted it I think is highly exaggerating.
Regarding what I think is the most important thing that the media is not addressing, I believe it is the significance of the clerical leadership in Iran that recently spoke out against the election results and the new government. Yes, it has been reported on, but its significance has not been stressed.
Interviews and video production by Kaitlin Provencher, Web Communications