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On June 2009 Presidential Election in Iran: A Statement

By Hamid Dabashi, New York


Having just participated in a historic election, millions of Iranians in Iran and around the world are baffled, angry, and heartbroken with the official results of the presidential campaign of 22 Khordad 1388 (12 June 2009). There are perfectly legitimate reasons to question the validity of the official results that have declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the clear winner of this election.


The campaign headquarters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karrubi have openly and emphatically questioned the validity of this result and pointed to myriads of irregularities. The office of Mohsen Reza'i, the other candidate, has equally challenged the result but reserved specific comments until later.


Video clips coming out of Iran show that thousands of Iranian voters have poured into streets of their capital questioning the validity of this result, facing brutal suppression of their legitimate and legal protests. The only thing of which Iranians can be sure and proud is the extraordinary manifestation of their collective will to participate in a massive democratic process. This unprecedented participation neither lends legitimacy to the illegitimate apparatus of the Islamic Republic and its manifestly undemocratic organs nor should it be abused by bankrupt oppositional forces outside Iran to denounce and denigrate a glorious page in modern Iranian history.



Iranians were right to participate in a monumental manifestation of their collective democratic will, which lends legitimacy to nothing other than their political participation, as it is the indication of nothing other than their democratic maturity.


Whoever the legitimate winner of this election might be, and we may never get to know that fact, the real winners are Iranian people-and no future president of Iran, legitimate or illegitimate in occupying that office, can ever forget or disregard this collective democratic will.


This is a cathartic moment in modern Iranian history, which requires collective intelligence, political vigilance, and steadfast diligence as to how to interpret it and move forward. The beleaguered custodians of the Islamic Republic want to abuse this massive participation as a vindication of their rule. It is not. Bankrupt oppositional forces outside Iran, entirely alien to the democratic aspirations of Iranian people, wish to abuse it to legitimize their retarded positions. They are equally wrong.


We need to keep our eyes on the precious ball of a democratic process that has been achieved and handed to us at great cost by generations of sacrifices. Take a picture of that inky finger with which you voted on 12th June 2009 and keep it for the posterity. You did the right thing at the right moment, and your children will frame that picture for generation to come.


About: Hamid Dabashi ( is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.

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