June 8, 2009

Campaign Update: The Youth Of Iran

A supporter of former Prime Minister and presidential election candidate Mirhossein Mousavi wears a green ribbon, the symbolic colour of Mousavi's campaign, on his wrist as he holds a campaign poster displaying Iranian President and presidential candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during an election rally in Tehran, June 6, 2009. The words on the poster reads, "Dear father and mother choose the best".   REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN POLITICS ELECTIONS IMAGES OF THE DAY)
If you’re following the photo coverage of the tense and emotional Iranian election, the difference between “the Ahmadinejad-” and “Mousavi images” are fascinating for the separate minds.
The poster above is being held up by a supporter of the moderate Mirhossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad’s main competitor. (We know that because the wrist sports a green ribbon, a signature of the Mousavi campaign.) I’m not sure how much cultural meaning I’m missing due to the characters and the flags, but the main twist involves the text at the bottom which, according to the Reuters caption, reads: “Dear father and mother choose the best.”

Iranian youth supporters of former prime minister and presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, dance in a street in northern Tehran, early June 5, 2009. Several analysts predict a high urban youth turnout in the June 12 presidential election in favour of Mousavi, unknown to many young Iranians but who is passionately promoted by Ahmadinejad's reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
I would contrast the childlike poster infantilizing the population with the flood of sensate images of support for Mousavi.
This and like photos represent not just a secular versus fundamentalist split (that has suddenly burst into the open), but the “language” of real, “fundamentally repressed” and truly animated youth starving for self-expression.

(image 1: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters. Tehran, June 6, 2009. image 2:Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images. Northern Tehran. June 5, 2009)

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Michael Shaw
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