Daily Video

June 19, 2013

Iran Elects New Reform-Minded President

Watch Iran Elects Moderate Hasan Rowhani to Be Next President on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Big news from Iran, where voters elected Hassan Rouhani, a reform-minded cleric, to replace Mahmoud Ahmedinejad as Iran’s new president. Rouhani defeated more conservative candidates, who were seen as closer to the religious leaders who hold the most power in the Islamic Republic.

Many Iranians were surprised that the elections went so smoothly.  Although only a very select group of candidates were allowed to run, the vote counting seemed much more open and fair than the 2009 elections, which were widely seen as rigged against the reform movement.

“God willing, this election will be a prelude to the changes that are demanded by the people,” said Rouhani.”This includes, of course, revolution in the economic cultural, social and political fields.”

Rouhani headed nuclear talks with Western countries in 2003 and 2005, and has said that he will support reopening diplomatic ties with the United States.

“Common sense says our two countries should think about the future more than the past,” he said.

U.S. State Department officials met the news of Rouhani’s election with cautious optimism, saying, “We look forward to him and are hopeful that he will fulfill the campaign promises he made to the Iranian people, such as expanding personal freedoms, releasing political prisoners, and improving Iran’s relations with the international community. But time will tell.”

Warm up questions

1. Where is Iran? What do you know about it?

2. What is the relationship between Iran and the U.S.?

3. What is a theocracy?

Discussion questions

1. Why would it be important to U.S. officials that Iran elects a moderate president?

2. Compare and contrast life in Iran with life in the United States.  What are some personal freedoms that we have here, that Iranians don’t have?  Which personal freedoms do you think Iranians want first?

3. Iranian Marjane Satrapi  wrote an autobiographical graphic novel book called Persepolis about growing up under strict Islamic rule in the 1980s.  Take a look at this graphic novel interpretation of the 2009 Iranian elections.   How does this form of storytelling differ from a news article?  Tell your own news story in a graphic novel format.

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