On this day: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reelected

June 13 2009: The start of the Green revolution

By Jennifer Lipman, June 13, 2011

At the time a seemingly isolated instance of a Middle Eastern population rebelling against autocracy, the Green revolution was in some ways a harbinger of things to come.

But while the Arab Spring demonstrations saw the citizens of Egypt and Tunisia overthrow their leaders in pursuit of democracy, the same was not true of the Persian protests.

After the 2009 vote, incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared himself the victor with more than 62 per cent of the vote.

"Our nation has gone through a glorious and fully democratic election," he said proudly. "Opening a new chapter for our country in the march towards national progress and enhanced international interactions."

But, rallied by the defeated opposition candidates Mahdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the Iranians refused to accept the results, which had been widely discredited by international monitors.

Instead they took to the streets and to the social networks in protests and endured arrests and violent attacks by Ahmadinejad's forces. There was violence, mass arrests and even rape, scenes of people being imprisoned and the deaths of some 70 protesters, including Neda Agha-Soltan.

The death of the 26-year-old was captured on video, the footage transmitted around the world and Neda's face became the symbol of a revolution.

What the JC said: For many Western pundits, the demonstrations against the Iranian regime on Sunday signalled the beginning of another revolution. This was Iran's "Berlin Wall moment", The Times enthused; the start of a "bloody endgame"…While the regime is clearly in deep domestic trouble, it could take months and even years to resolve. But what if it did collapse tomorrow? How excited should we be? Clearly, a new regime, which might separate mosque and state, be far more open to the West and be far more focused on domestic affairs, would be a positive development. But there is no guarantee that a victory for the Green Revolution would mean the end of the Iranian confrontation with the West, particularly over its nuclear programme.

See more from the JC archives here.

Last updated: 9:18am, June 13 2011