The Arab Spring of 2011 actually has its roots in Persia—the democracy movement that has swept across the Middle East actually got its start, no matter how fleeting and ultimately unsuccessful, with the massive protests in Iran after that country’s suspect 2009 presidential election. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, died in the popular uprising against the likely fraudulent victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that seemed to genuinely threaten the ruling Islamic clerics. Iran’s revolt died out after a crushing government response and since then not much has been heard from the country’s reformers. As democratic revolutions swept across Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and more, Iran has remained quiet. There has been a quiet power struggle that has developed between President Ahmadinejad and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini but the anger in the Iranian streets is all but gone. Is there still hope for reform and change in Iran?
Nader Hashemi, assistant professor of the Middle East & Islamic affairs at Denver University & co-editor of the book The People Reloaded: the Green Movement and the struggle for Iran’s Future
Reza Aslan, author of No god but God: the origins, evolution & future of Islam and an associate professor at UC Riverside