Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 12:04 UK

Your questions answered

The BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, is one of the few Western broadcasters still reporting from Iran. He has been following events there since the June 12 elections. He answers your questions.


What's the scene like in Tehran now? Is there a sizeable proportion of people who wear green? Is there an increased security presence all around the city? We hear a lot about Tehran, but what has it been like in Azeri cities such as Tabriz and Orumiye? Will C, London, UK

An Iranian opposition supporter wearing a mask at a protest in Tehran
An Iranian opposition supporter wears green during a protest

Can't tell you about the situation outside Tehran because I have not left the capital. It looks 'normal'. You get the idea that government security is not too far away, but it is much less visible than it was 3-4 days ago. Haven't seen anyone wearing green political colours. The situation is very different to the way it was 10 days or so ago.

What awareness do the Iranians have about the level of interest we in the West have in their election?
Steve, Gloucs, UK

I think Iranians who are in touch with the internet and foreign media know. Those who rely on the state media will be hearing that foreign interest here is in stirring up trouble and meddling.

Do you think the demonstrators have been used as pawns to settle internal squabbles within the Islamic regime?
Desik, London

I think there was a spontaneous demonstration of anger after the election, partly stirred up by the fact that many were offended by the comments Pres Ahmedinejad had made. Pawns suggested they were manipulated into participation.

If both candidates were effectively selected by the clerics, should we be getting so uptight about who wins? Does it matter in the wider context of Iranian social freedoms?
Steve N, Cambridge

Mir Hossein Mousavi at a rally in Tehran on 15/6/09
Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi

It is wrong to think that there were wide differences between the candidates. All candidates operate within the accepted auspices of the Islamic Republic. Mousavi stands for a more modern, outward looking republic. And he is aware of the pressure for social freedoms that come from an increasingly educated population. Iran is socially more relaxed than it was 10 years ago anyway.

I can remember the downfall of the Shah, do you think we are seeing the beginning of the retreat of Muslim 'fundamentalism' in favour of a more pragmatic maybe secular Muslim state?
Stuart Murden, Brighton

No I don't think so. Various Islamist movements in the region have a lot of strength, dynamism and popularity.

Covering the Middle East, how do you tackle the many language barriers you must encounter?
Richard, Maidstone

With difficulty but I manage. We have a lot of local help with languages.

I have been following a particular Twitterer from Iran but he/she has stopped reporting. Does this mean the government is arresting all Twitterers and what is likely to happen to them?
Mark Saunders, Swindon Wilts

Not necessarily. Communications are difficult. Many sites are blocked and Iranians use a variety of proxies to get out.

Is day to day life continuing as normal for typical families? Are shops, markets, factories, garages operating as they did before the crisis?
Jim, Milton Keynes, England

Yes, shops are open, people are going to work.

Do you think that even if the protests fizzle out, Ahmadinejad's authority will be diminished anyway and he'll eventually be eased out?
John, Fife, Scotland

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on 24/6/09
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ahmedinejad was already unpopular among members of parliament. It is still too early to say, but his position may be undermined. Also don't forget he has his own following.

Is there any evidence of a strike gaining momentum? It's widely expected that there will be widespread civil disobedience in Tehran.
Ollie, London, UK

There is no evidence I have seen of a strike thus far.

Are you able to get a decent beer Jeremy?
Peter Czaja, Teddington, UK

No!

How come you are still in Iran?
Layla, England

I'm still here because I have a visa and a job to do.

How organised is the opposition in Iran? Can they mobilise people? Is the army still determined to defeat this movement?
Gohar, UK

The opposition is not well organised. There is no formal party structure. In addition arrests, the security clamp down and government interruptions to communications make it difficult for those who are trying to organise.

I heard that the Baiji are not Iranians, is this true? Iranians think that their own countrymen won't kill them.
Joan, USA

Basijis are Iranians and regard themselves as patriots and soldiers of the Islamic republic.

What is the likelihood of this protest spilling over into civil war at this point in time?
Andrew, London

No chance of civil war as matters stand.

I have heard that websites were filtered and even landline and mobiles were not working during the protest days. Is that true?
Aryan, UK

Yes. Among websites that are blocked is the BBC's. Iranians find ways round through proxy servers. The mobile network is at best patchy. During demonstrations in Tehran centre the whole network there was switched off.

A reliable BBC/ABC poll predicted Ahmadinejad would win so why is there such a focus on election fraud and is there evidence of fraud?
David Benson, London, UK

Indications are things changed greatly in the last few weeks of the campaign. Some analysts say that no polls are reliable here.

Is it possible that Ayatollah Rafsanjani is using this protest for a personal power grab within the Iranian government?
Christian Johnson, Albany, Oregon, USA

Rafsanjani is believed to be working with Mr Mousavi. We can't say if it is a power grab as you suggest. He certainly wants to be the man with the most influence. And he seems to want, like Mr Mousavi, to modernise within the framework of the Islamic republic.

Are there divisions within the revolutionary guard, the military and Parliament? What is the clergy's position? What is happening outside of Tehran?
Sima, VA, US

Because of reporting restrictions, we can't travel outside Tehran to report and even here we are not supposed to cover 'illegal gatherings' i.e. demonstrations.

We have heard though from good sources that the governing religious and political elites in Iran are split down the middle about this. That is what makes it a crisis like no other in the 30 year history of the Islamic republic.

What do you say to the claim that the BBC is using its broadcasts to incite violence? This is a fair question that the Iranians have asked.
Mick, London

We are not inciting demonstrations. The claim is untrue. We simply do our best to report what's happening.

You can send your questions for Jeremy Bowen.



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