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Student anger in Iran spearheads protests

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Student anger in Iran spearheads protests

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‘‘Resign, Resign! Coup d’etat!’‘ they chanted.

Secret images filmed at Tehran University of students calling for the head of Iran’s controversially re-elected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The students are at the vanguard of protests to topple the regime. ‘‘They’ve cut our SMS, our mobiles, they’ve attacked our university,’‘ shouted one man. Ironically perhaps, it was student protests in 1979 that contributed to the end of the Shah allowing the Mullahs to seize power and establish the Islamic Republic. But, 20 years on, disillusion boiled over into violence. In July 1999, two years after the election of reformist president Mohamed Khatami the students protested, angry at what they perceived to be a lack of promised change. Under severe repression, however, the protests petered out in days. By June 2003, the students were demonstrating again. However, these protests failed to hit a chord with the rest of Iranian society. By 2005, the election of Ahmadinejad became the focus of student anger. On a visit to Tehran University they openly heckled the Iranian leader. The incident was ignored by Iran’s official media. The big question now — are the current protests any different to previous disturbances? Many similarities exist, but perhaps the most fundamental difference is that frustration with the country’s rulers has spread to wider society and not just to the students.