For Iranian exiles the election of Ahmadinejad as president is a step backwards. Nada Elahi and her husband fled the country five years ago, settling in Belgium.
“It’s a catastrophe,” she says. “Social pressures are going to be more intense, they’ll put limits on people. For women it’s even worse. They’ll have to wear the veil again. It’ll be worse than before. They won’t have any more freedom, it’s finished for women.” The Elahi family are still waiting for their asylum application to be processed. It is not just some Iranian women who may have to change their appearance, men could be expected to grow full beards. Firauzeh Nahawandi is a sociology teacher at the Free University of Brussels. She regards the election as having been effectively rigged from the very beginning. “The only candidates who could present themselves were those accepted by the regime. The more relaxed social codes that were seen under the Khatami government will be lost, they’ll change,” she says.