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Rouhani’s call for unity

As Iranians spent the weekend marking the 39th anniversary of their country’s revolution, one man was likely not far from their thoughts: Ayatollah Khomeini. The latter has, of course, been described as the face and architect of the rebellion against the Shah that gave way to the world’s first theocracy; a move that set the country on a collision course with the West, most notably the US.
The pro-government rally led by President Hassan Rouhani came on the back of the people-led uprising that had taken hold of the country towards the final days of last year, spilling over into this. Indeed, he may or may not have made a veiled reference to this while referring to that long-ago revolution of yesteryear. Addressing the crowd at Azadi Square, he noted: “When the Revolution took place, we pushed some off the revolutionary train that we should have not. Today, we have to let them board the train again.” For some, this represents a welcome admission of how the secular intellectuals, the liberals and the communists that had supported the Khomeini-led revolution were actively purged from the new set-up once the monarchy had been overthrown. And as such, it is a positive development. As is the presidential suggestion of a national referendum of sorts that will overhaul the system of Iran’s governance. Though this will likely have little popular appeal unless it tackles the thorny issue of wresting constitutional power from the Supreme Leader and putting it back into the hands of the people.
Nevertheless, Rouhani will have a tough job in trying to reconcile the hardliners with the reformists; but it won’t be impossible. And he need only look to the Iranian people for inspiration. For although still smarting from the state’s recent brutality that saw close to 5,000 demonstrators arrested and 25 killed — many of those who took to the streets to commemorate the revolution also admitted to taking part in those economic protests.



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