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Iranian views: Divided country

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - July 2009
Ahmadinejad starts his second term to a background of protests

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been sworn in as president in the Iranian parliament. But protests over the disputed 12 June election have continued and Iran's political elite appear divided.

Here, four Iranians reflect on the inauguration of the president and the future of the country.

EHSAN, 29, manager, Shiraz

The inauguration of Ahmadinejad is a ridiculous show, seemingly prepared months ago by those who don't have any feeling for freedom, democracy and humanity. The ceremony will have no effect but to deepen the anger and hate towards Ahmadinejad and his camp.

We all hope that a significant and radical change will happen at the top of the regime. Many people, especially young people, still want to believe that they will not see Ahmadinejad ruling for another four years. What is obvious is that things will never be the same.

The protests after the elections were essential. They destroyed government plans to present Ahmadinejad's victory as legitimate

Of course there is still a section of society who support Ahmadinejad. But they tend to be those who move in conservative circles, the politically naïve or those who only have access to state TV. If we had independent media and newspapers, the number of people supporting Ahmadinejad would diminish.

The protests after the poll were essential. Mousavi won the election, but we have seen a sort of coup d'etat by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's band. The demonstrations destroyed their plans to present Ahmadinejad's victory as legitimate.

If I were in the government, my priority would be to establish the rule of law.

The economy, foreign policy and freedom are related and dependent on each other.

A strong economy is built on an open, politically developed society. For a strong economy we also need stable and professional relationships with other countries in the world. I'm not talking about the kind of relationships we had in the era of the Shah, but a foreign policy based on mutual interest.

The future of Iran will be great and prosperous. The suffering of the people in our nation today will lead to a better future.

AMIR, 28, Architect, Tehran

I believe that Ahmadinejad won the election fairly and is the president of Iran.

My family is happy to see him inaugurated. But many of my colleagues are angry - because they support Mr Mousavi and believe the president cheated in the election.

Protesters surrounded by tear gas canisters in Tehran, Iran (17 July 2009)
Many of my colleagues have protested, as they are middle class. But ordinary people are tired of the demonstrations

Before the poll I ridiculed Mr Ahmadinejad, but after the election I demonstrated in support of the government. This is because I see the protesters as a minority group who are backed by foreigners and are trying to impose their view on the majority.

Many of my colleagues have protested against the government, as they are middle class. But when you talk to taxi drivers, shop keepers and normal people, they don't feel angry with the regime, they don't oppose Mr Ahmadinejad and they are tired of and angry with the demonstrations.

But Mr Mousavi's supporters are shrinking from a political movement to a bunch of people just causing problems for ordinary folk.

The protests will continue. This may damage the image of Mr Ahmadinejad abroad, but they will also keep supporters like me active and our minds strong

In my view, the economy is everything. During this financial crisis, Iran's economy has faltered. The political crisis has further weakened our economy. Maybe that is why I believe Mr Mousavi and any kind of opposition - which brings with it chaos, disorder and instability - is the enemy of Iran.

Mr Ahmadinejad will do his best for economic progress and I predict a good future for Iran. But we will see political disturbances caused by the opposition and supported by the West.

BAHMAN, 56, civil engineer, Tehran

I do not support the inauguration of Ahmadinejad and neither do my family or friends because he is not the president of the people.

The peaceful protests by the people after the election, and the violence shown by the regime could be compared to Gandhi-era India, and we all know who won in the end. Protests will continue until the regime is toppled.

The government should stop wasting our tax money on nuclear ambitions. Instead, they should try to improve the economy and services

The inauguration will not make a difference and the nation will divide further.

Iran's immediate future is scary and some believe things will get worse before getting better. The next few years under Ahmadinejad will be no different from the past few years, but there is great hope for the opposition.

I would like to see the government bow to the will of the people and resign. If I played a role in the government, I would press for greater democracy and human rights.

The government should stop wasting our tax money on nuclear ambitions. Instead, they should try to improve the economy and services. Above all, they adopt a peaceful and friendly foreign policy, gaining respect from the world community.

The future of Iran is like a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel. The bright light exists because we have a highly educated young generation who can change things.

MUSTAFA, 28, administrator, Tehran

The inauguration is supposed to be one of the most important events in the Iranian calendar, but Ahmadinejad faces a divided country and trouble from the opposition leaders.

Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
The protests have mainly been directed from above, by leaders like Khatami, Rafsanjani and Mousavi

Protests show the existence of democracy in a country and should be respected. But they should be organised correctly. The opposition did not seek permission before launching protests. As a result ordinary people have suffered - shops have been damaged, the economy hit and people hurt.

The protests have mainly been directed from above, by leaders like Khatami, Rafsanjani and Mousavi, who seem determined to bring down the government.

I voted for Mr Ahmadinejad as did most of my family. He is a good person who has tried to help the poor in the country. He has travelled from village to village listening to the concerns of ordinary people.

Ahmadinejad is close to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who supports and feeds the nation. Khamenei knows what is right for the nation and has grown in influence since Ahmadinejad became president.

Domestically the new government must try to improve the economy as many Iranians are suffering from poverty.

We have difficult relations with other nations and I would like to see these improve. European countries have supported the recent protests. In Cairo, Obama said he wanted to talk to us, but was too quick to criticise our government after the election.

But Iran is not looking to go to war with other countries. The tension between our country and America comes from our complex history and mistakes made by both sides - and I believe we can overcome this.

Certainly the political system may have been damaged over the last few weeks - but it can be fixed. People will come back to the regime.



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