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article imageKhamenei’s Strong Will Challenged as Protests in Iran Continue

By Carol Forsloff     Jun 18, 2009 in Politics
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been the ultimate civil and religious ruler of the country of Iran for 20 years. Now with the recent political upheavals, demonstrations and technological advances, new challenges to his power have arisen.
This strong, but silent leader,the Ayatollah Khamenei, has been at the apex of authority in Iran, with few public appearances and statements. Nevertheless, he is the ultimate ruler over the military, the judiciary and all public communication and is able to administrate with an iron fist, as has been the pattern. Now with the demonstrations of civil unrest, his authority is challenged in many ways; and what this man does next will impact the future of Iran, experts say.
After the recent Presidential election, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was proclaimed the winner, the Ayatollah Khamenei immediately gave his blessing to the election results, calling all Iranians to unite behind the re-elected President. Still the crowds continued to protest the election in spite of the Supreme Ruler’s demands, causing him to announce an investigation of the election votes.
This turnaround is a rare event for a man who has been private, but firm, in his rule of Iran. Submitting to the challenge, and reviewing his previous decision, is a major change for him, as those who have observed his behavior maintain.
"After congratulating the nation for having a sacred victory, to say now that there is a possibility that it was rigged is a big step backward for him," said Abbas Milani, the director of Stanford University's Iranian studies program.
Khamenei has called for prayer on Friday, the traditional day of Muslim worship. In the meantime demonstrators have continued to protest the Iranian election with marches, banners and other forms of communication, even as the country attempts to stop them. The protests are seen by scholars as unprecedented challenges to the Islamic regime and its rule by religious clerics, with Khamenei as the ultimate authority.
Mousavi has called for a day of mourning on Thursday, even as his supporters have continue to defy authorities. This is considered not only to be a challenge to the civil government of Ahmadinejad but also the will of Khamenei, for if he orders attacks on the demonstrators experts say there will be strong reaction; and if he gives in to protest, this will be seen by some as a step backward from his usual firm stance on matters of religious rule.
The events in total are considered a dramatic turn for Iran with new challenges to the religious domination as well as its strict Islamic practices, even as Iranians are said to be reaching out to rest of the world with technological resources to communicate their desires for freedom and change, as Israel, its prime enemy, and its ally, the United States observe events with interest.
More about Iran, Religious ruler iran, Elections iran
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