It was bound to happen.
President-elect Dr. Hassan Rouhani ran on a campaign of hope and prudence, and on June 14 shocked the world by being elected as Iran’s new president (to be sworn-in in August).
One of his key campaign promises was to create a more open atmosphere in Iran following the 2009 presidential election, in which Ahmadinejad was hastily announced as the winner a mere few hours following the election, leading supporters of reformists Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to protest the results. These protests were violently put down by government forces, and in 2011, Mousavi and Karroubi were put under house arrest.
During the last four years, Iranians have lived in a highly “securitized” environment. Journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and thousands of ordinary Iranians have been imprisoned.
President-elect Rouhani’s inspired campaign and promises clearly opened the floodgates to what is likely going to be a chorus of calls for the release of Mousavi, Karroubi and other political prisoners in Iran.
At press-conference today, a journalist repeatedly shouted, “Remember, Mousavi must be present!” This was broadcast lived in Iran and around the world.
Watch the video:
Apparently the press conference continued.
Rouhani: On Mousavi & Karoubi's release: Some issues need to be resolved w/ all the branches of Gov. but I am sure in time it will happen"
— Bahman Kalbasi (@BahmanKalbasi) June 17, 2013
How the new president-elect handles this demand (likely to get louder in the coming days) will be one of the first tests of his presidency. And how Iran’s government reacts to the journalist who interrupted the press-conference and dared utter Mousavi’s name, will be a signal to the level of openness that will be tolerated after the 2013 election.