The Revolution in Iran: A Recap

If you're like most Americans you spend your summer weekends tuning out the rest of the world. In the event you turned on your computer today and wondered, "What the hell is going on in Iran?"—Here's a summary.

In as close to chronological order as we can determine, here is a brief summary of the major events that have taken place over the last couple of days.

  • Iranians went to the polls last week in large numbers (85% of registered voters turned out) to vote in that country's Presidential election, a sign usually favorable to candidates challenging incumbents.

  • Reports begin to emerge that the high turnout has definitely worked in favor of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who many, including former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, believe will win in a landslide.

  • Turnout is so great that Iranian election officials extend the voting deadline an additional three hours so that more citizens are allowed to cast their ballots.

  • Within hours of the polls closing, the Iranian government announced that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election with 62% of the vote, reported to be the largest margin of victory in the history of Iranian Presidential elections, while main opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi received only 33% of the vote. Due to the large number of hand ballots cast in Iran, this declaration of victory seemed extremely odd, as it was expected to possibly take days for election officials to count all of the ballots.

  • Already sensing a bubble of unrest on the verge of bursting, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei states that all Iranians, including the losing candidates of the presidential election, must support Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

  • Ignoring the government's orders, thousands of Iranians, many of them covering their faces out of fear of being recognized and punished for rising up against the government, take to the streets in spontaneous protest.

  • Reports emerge that cell phone calls and text-messaging have been blocked throughout Iran.

  • Protests in the streets reach critical mass with thousands of average citizens doing battle with Iranian police and military outfitted in full riot gear.

  • Iran's supreme leader issues a statement calling the election a "divine assessment."

  • As the uprising begins to turn violent, with protesters throwing stones at Iranian officials and Iranian officials mercilessly beating hundreds of protesters, the New York Times' Bill Keller talks to an anonymous Iranian election official who says this: "They didn't rig the vote. They didn't even look at the vote. They just wrote the name and put the number in front of it."

  • British journalist Lindsey Hilsum files this remarkable report from Tehran, in which she says she feels as though she "went to sleep in one country and woke up in another."


    Click to view


  • Reports emerge that Mir Hossein Mousavi has been placed under house arrest by the Iranian government.

  • A group of employees within the Iranian Interior Ministry, the government body overseeing the election, issue a statement saying that the results of the election "were not healthy."

  • Protests in the streets of Iran go deep into the night, with thousands of others going up to their rooftops to engage in chants that ring through the cities.

  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a speech in which he basically declares that everything is fine and events taking place in his country are no different than fans breaking out in fights after a soccer match.

  • Tehran Bureau, an independent magazine doing exceptional reporting on events in Iran, reports that a massive protest march has been called by Mir Hossein Mousavi. It is later reported that protesters have called for a national work strike day on Tuesday.

  • The BBC is ordered out of the country by the Iranian government. The BBC's John Simpson later reports that Iranian officials have attempted to arrest he and his crew, but each time that they do a mob of protesters surrounds them to protect them from Iranian forces.






  • Reports emerge that Iranian college students were being brutally beaten and even shot dead by police as the government cracked down even harder on the protesters.

  • Word gets out that Iranian forces have surrounded hospitals and are refusing to allow those injured in protest confrontations to seek treatment.

  • Rumors spread on Twitter that today's protest march, which should be underway shortly, had been called off, but now appears to be back on again.


    It should be noted that exceptional reporting is being done on all of this by Andrew Sullivan, the Times' Lede blog, the BBC and the aforementioned Tehran Bureau.


    Photo of beaten Iranian student via Madyar Twitter