Middle East

Iranians divided a year on from disputed election

Photo: Manaz Ganji
Image caption Iranians walking to work near Vali Asr Square, Tehran

On the first anniversary of Iran's disputed presidential election, four people from across the country - two who support the president and the regime, and two who do not - assess the past year.

Behrooz, student, Tehran

Behrooz is an active member of the opposition movement.

We've had about three months without any big demonstrations so it feels like things are getting back to "normal".

Before the elections we had our underground lives - discussing politics, having parties, drinking, playing in our band. These were things we always did in private, and that's just the same.

Some of us are optimistic that change is around the corner, the rest of us are planning on leaving Iran.

Economically things are difficult. My father, with 25 years experience of civil engineering, has been unemployed for the last nine months. Taxis are twice as expensive as six months ago.

All the recent political activity and simply not working hard enough have resulted in me not graduating this year. It's the same for most of the guys I know who were active last year. I hope to graduate next year.

All of us who plan for our future face a dilemma. Some of us are optimistic that change is around the corner, that there will be a better Iran soon. But that's less than half of us.

The rest are thinking of leaving for a better world. It doesn't matter if you're an engineer or an artist, you're not going to have a bright future here.

I play drums in a metal band, but there's no place for us here. It's difficult for even the most legitimate musicians - the guys who never mention politics, protests or sex - to publish and perform their music.

We've still got fire in our hearts. But we know the demonstrations are just a small part of this movement, the most important thing is that the level of awareness has risen.

Of course my mum worries about me. She says I mustn't trust people too easily, and warns me about the secret newsletters we still send around at university, the phone calls and emails I send.

She says I have to finish university and leave Iran, that this is no place for a young man like me.

She's experienced one revolution and says this feels like another, but it's not over yet.

Amir Hossein Sattarian, engineer, Qom

Amir voted for President Ahmadinejad.

I think government opponents got a lot quieter after the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, 11 February 2010, because their protests didn't amount to much.

I have lost respect for the Green Movement: they have shown no respect for religion, society, or the economy.

Things are better now than they were a year ago: Iran's economic turmoil and political crisis have died down, and construction projects are on the rise. With more job opportunities, life has become easier.

Most of my engineering colleagues oppose Mr Ahmadinejad. I do understand that both sides believe that a minority, who lost the election, is trying to impose itself on people with force.

Over the year I've become almost fanatical about Mr Ahmadinejad. He has demonstrated strength of character against America and the West in pursuit of Iran's industrial, civil and atomic projects.

Opposition supporters have shown they are puppets of America and Britain. For me they have lost their honour.

I was really angry when I heard about their demonstrations on Ashura [a big Shia day of mourning which turned into violent protests on 27 December 2009].

I drove to where I heard there were protests, to try to stop people insulting Ashura and our religion. But it was over before I got there.

From that moment, I lost respect for the Green Movement, because Mr Mousavi had supported that demonstration.

I think when a nation is determined to develop, against the wishes of superpowers and their conspiracies, it will win through. Iran can overcome America.

Parvaneh, student, Qom and Tehran, Iran

Parvaneh supports the Green opposition movement.

We moved to Qom because my husband is studying Islam here. We spend our weekends in Tehran.

Before moving, I thought Qom was Ahmadinejad's city, so you can imagine how shocked I was to see women wearing the green of the opposition movement around their necks and wrists.

Some even wear swimsuits in the opposition green in the pool! I asked one how she found the exact green, and she said she bought the material and made the swimsuit herself!

Clergy are cautious people, but I've spoken to one professor here who believes the supreme leader made a fool of himself by protecting President Ahmadinejad after the election.

He said he believed at least half of Iranians don't like or hate the supreme leader and are not religious.

Financially, our parents help us out otherwise we might starve! Inflation is unbelievable. We try to spend less, reduce our phone bills, and limit the petrol we put in our cars.

I am a complete patriot, I love Iran. But when my husband's course is finished, we will emigrate to the US.

I feel as strongly about the elections as I did last year. Believe me, Ahmadinejad and his masters are capable of doing anything; we have our very own Bin Laden here running our country!

So, I kiss the hands that sign the sanctions against Iran. I'd love to see more, I'd love to see Iran bankrupt and the nuclear facilities being bombed. We are desperate because we can't do anything but demonstrate.

Hussein Ayoub, architect, Qom, Iran

Hussein says he regrets voting for an opposition candidate in the election.

My future in Iran looks rosy. I work as an engineer and the election hasn't changed a thing.

I don't really care about politics; I care mostly that the supreme leader and the president are alive and that there is no war.

We have no financial problems. Qom is Iran's holiest place and thousands come for tourism, so building work is always needed.

We plan to go to Perspolis, Isfahan and Mashhad for our summer holidays. That will be great for the family, it will give our children a break from school and a chance to get out in the fresh air.

I voted for Mousavi but after the election, the riots, deaths, and threats, I thought: "If Mousavi had won, would Ahmadinejad have done any of this? No, he would have said 'Good luck'."

But Mousavi made a big deal out of it and got the whole world criticising his country.

I would vote for Ahmadinejad now. The opposition caused chaos, death and suffering, I think they should be banned. You may think that's harsh, but they deserve it.

The world is jealous of Iran's beauty and success. It wants to destroy Iran - but we Iranians will fight and win respect for our nation.