Iran is marking six years since tens of thousands of hard-line supporters took to the streets to show their support for the clerical establishment, countering mass demonstrations against the results of the country's 2009 presidential election.
Government rallies and ceremonies were being held in Tehran and throughout the country on December 30 to commemorate the display of popular support that followed the hotly disputed election result, which gave hard-line incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad a second term as president.
Various events marking the pro-government street rallies that helped put an end to the reform-minded opposition "Green Movement" were scheduled over the course of a few days.
Ahmadinejad's successor, Hassan Rohani, was cast as a relative moderate and rode the promise of reform to victory in Iran's 2013 presidential election. On December 29, however, he took a hard-line position on the 2009 events, describing the pro-government rallies as "epic" while speaking at the International Conference of Islamic Unity in Tehran.
"Iran's security today is established under the supreme leader," said Rohani, adding that the protests displayed broad support for Iran's Islamic system of government.
Rohani's remarks provoked angry reactions among activists and social-media users who seek democracy in Iran.
U.S.-based Amir Etemadi Bozorg wrote on his Facebook page on December 30 that Rohani had shattered the dreams of many of his supporters -- "in a way that even [the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei did not feel the need to refer to [the pro-government rallies] in his address."
Iranian-Canadian cartoonist Nikahang Kowsar criticized those who voted for Rohani in 2013 in the belief that he would improve conditions in the country and release Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi. The two reformist politicians ran in the 2009 election against Ahmadinejad, and have been under house arrest since 2011 despite a campaign promise by Rohani to free them.
The mass protests that followed Ahmadinejad's victory in 2009 were the largest public rallies seen since the establishment of the Islamic regime in 1979. The ensuing government crackdown saw thousands of protesters as well as Green Movement leaders detained, and hundreds killed or injured.
The hard-line daily Keyhan, in an editorial published on December 30, wrote that had hardline supporters not taken to the streets Iran would not be the good condition it finds itself in today as compared to other, crisis-stricken, countries in the region.
The Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN), a news channel, said during its morning bulletin that "on this day, the Iranian people, through their participation in 2009 hammered the last nail in the coffin of sedition," a term commonly used to refer to the Green Movement.
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