[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/meast/02/16/iran.sanctions/t1larg.ahmadinejad.afp.gi.jpg caption="Protests after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory in 2009 have led to protesters being arrested." width=300 height=169]
Jean Francois Julliard
Special to CNN
Early last week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini reportedly said Iran's celebrations commemorating the Islamic revolution would stun the world. It is difficult to believe anything Iran could do at this point could surprise the world.
The protests after the June election led to an unprecedented campaign of intimidation and arrests. Freedom of expression had been seriously undermined by the regime even before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election. Journalists and bloggers were regularly arrested and harassed for discussing topics like women's rights or issues involving ethnic minorities.
News organizations with ties to the reformist movement were fined, suspended or even shut down for criticizing government policies. But in spite of these measures, there remained a functioning press. If reformist publications were limited in their criticism of the government, conservative outlets were rarely the target of censorship or harassment.
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