Old slogans reemerge at Iran's post-electoral party
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Hassan Rohani's presidential poll victory on Saturday evening sparked spontaneous outpourings of joy as the sounds of old political songs and defiant slogans resurfaced on the streets of Iranian towns and cities.
In an ancient land with a history of demonstrations dating back centuries, Iran has a rich culture of public expressions such as beloved political songs, protest slogans, visual symbols and Persian verses that have moved an untold number of Iranians to tears – of sorrow, anger, despair or joy.
This time – after a long time – the public sentiment was pure unadulterated elation as supporters of newly-elected moderate cleric Hassan Rohani took to the streets of towns and cities across Iran on Saturday evening in a spontaneous national street party that stretched through the night.
Here are some snapshots of Iranian reactions to Rohani’s election victory, featuring familiar, and sometimes daring, slogans, songs and posters – in the real and cyber worlds.
Dancing and chanting in the streets
Shortly after Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar announced that Rohani had won an outright majority, a spontaneous demonstration erupted in the Vanak area of northern Tehran – an upper-middle class neighbourhood filled with cafés, shopping malls and commercial buildings where residents have been hurting under the government mismanagement and economic sanctions under outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration.
Brandishing a giant mock key, which Rohani’s electoral symbol, the crowds shouted, “Hassan Rohani we love you! Ahmadi goodbye!”
In the same neighborhood, a woman holds up a poster featuring Iranian reformist leaders such as former president Mohammad Khatami, while inside the car a young man overcome with emotion wipes away his tears.
Remembering 2009, reviving the Green Movement
Four years after the brutal crackdown on the Green Movement following the disputed 2009 election, crowds defiantly chanted the names of detained opposition leaders and victims of the crackdown, shouting slogans and singing songs that have not been heard on Iranian streets for years.
In Vanak, demonstrators chanted, “Mirhossein! Mirhossein!” demanding the release of detained 2009 presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, followed by cries of “Rohani stop the detentions” (0:57).
At one point (3:15), the crowd sings “Ey Iran” – the immortal 1940s-era patriotic song that is often mistaken for Iran’s national anthem. This paean to Iranian pride was not heard during the 2009 post-electoral protests, when national morale was low.
Minutes earlier (1:15), demonstrators sing the haunting pre-1979 Revolution Communist song, “Saramad Zemestan” – or “Winter is over” – which has since turned into a classic resistance tune.
Social media sites such as Facebook featured video of crowds crying, "A new spring has come, Neda you are still with us," in memory of Neda Agha Soltan, a young woman fatally shot during the 2009 unrest and whose dying moments posted on the Web became an enduring symbol of the bloodshed.
The crowds also paid tribute to Sohrab Arabi, a 19-year-old youth who was killed in June 2009 during a Tehran demonstration, with cries of “Sohrab! Awake! We have cast your vote!”
The image below, posted on social media sites, of what Iranians are calling the “new version” of the Green Movement features the words “We Won” on a green backdrop laced with a purple border. Purple was the colour of the 2013 Rohani campaign.
Some caution and cynicism – but not a lot
While the overwhelming sentiment was one of joy and relief, social media sites also featured circumspect comments.
Responding to a Facebook post, an Iranian man based in Germany noted, “So are they going to open the cinema halls too? Will they tuck in the women’s coats?...Will my passport enable me to travel freely? Can we ride our brand new Suzuki bikes to the banks and ask for a loan?”
The answer to most questions is “probably not”. But for at least one night, a nation that had retreated into a terrified silence emerged and enjoyed the post-electoral party.