At Rouhani rally, daring slogans and reminders of Iran’s political ghosts

The New York Times reports: As supporters of Iran’s president awaited his arrival to fire them up for his May 19 re-election bid, the thoughts of many were with two other men under house arrest for years.

“Moussavi, Karroubi must be released!” the crowd of thousands thundered over and over, a reference to the country’s most prominent opposition leaders.

Hands raised, they drowned out a warm-up speaker at the campaign event for the president, Hassan Rouhani. Many wore green wristbands, a political symbol that, not too long ago, could get someone arrested in Iran.

Not these days — a concession in the modestly widened latitude permitted for political discourse when Iran gears up for elections. During the campaign, which lasts only a few weeks, politics are not only freer, but edgier.

The scene at the Rouhani campaign rally in Tehran on Tuesday has been replicated in other cities in recent days. In what appeared to be a warning that they not get out of hand, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday that anyone who disrupted the elections would get a “slap in the face.” [Continue reading…]

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