June 18th, 2009
01:18 PM ET

Iran 101: Understanding the unrest

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/18/iran.university/art.campus.afp.gi.jpg caption="Students rally atop a building Monday on the campus of Tehran University."]

Saeed Ahmed

For almost a week, tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in daily protests - handkerchiefs shielding their faces from the pungency of tear gas, fists punching the air, and chants of "Down with the dictator" echoing against buildings.

The massive outpouring is a result of a disputed presidential election that the protesters think coronated the incumbent hard-liner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over their candidate, Mir Hossain Moussavi.

Context can help put their grievances into perspective:

Q. The Iran that we know today is the result of the Islamic Revolution. What is it?

A. The Islamic Revolution is the name given to the Iranian revolution of 1979, when the ruling U.S.-supported monarchy was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was forced into exile.

The country held a national referendum to become an Islamic republic and approve a new constitution.

The constitution was a hybrid of democracy and unelected religious leadership. It appointed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - the leader of the revolution - the supreme leader of the country.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Iran
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. gary

    Why not include the headlines from various countries, like fance, italy, sweden, norway, spain, australia, new zealand...on their "take" on the Iran election????

    June 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  2. fay

    thank you cnn for the coverage of iran. may the people have freemdom after 30 years!

    June 18, 2009 at 1:30 pm |