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A year ago Iran was in political upheaval. Now Iranians are wondering what became of the Internet-fueled revolution that brought thousands to the streets of Tehran. Cyrus Farivar has some thoughts from Iranians, both at home and abroad.
MARCO WERMAN: Tomorrow marks one year since the controversial re-election of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That sent tens of thousands of Iranians out into the streets in what came to be known as the Green Revolution. But it wasn't really a revolution and it's still not clear how many Iranians actually supported it. One thing that is clear, one year on, is a sense of how little has changed. Cyrus Farivar reports.
CYRUS FARIVAR: It's difficult to get a sense of what life is like for ordinary Iranians in Iran today. Most foreign journalists are barred from operating inside the country. And many of those I contacted didn't want to be interviewed, even anonymously. Still, the BBC did speak by phone to a young man in Tehran. Hamid didn't give his last name. He says he's largely given up hope of meaningful change in Iran.
HAMID: There's no chance. You can't fight bullets with good intentions and sincere heart. They'd just beat you. But there's no fighting them, that's what I think. We lost it. We went to the street, our friends got killed, we got beaten and now we're back. I think it's lost.
FARIVAR: Over the past 12 months, many reformist leaders, including a former Vice President, have been arrested and some were even executed. Still, for many Iranians, the political woes are dwarfed by the country's economic ones. Iran's official inflation rate was 9.9% last month. Though many observers say it's likely twice that figure, the government has drastically cut subsidies on gasoline and food, while unemployment continues to rise. One 25-year-old man from the northern Iranian city of Sari says many of his relatives are unemployed. I spoke to him through an interpreter.
INTERPRETER: The rate of unemployment is highest now. And among my relatives there are a lot of contractors and the government should pay them. But the government is facing a deficit and so they can't pay them what they are owed.
FARIVAR: This man supported Iran's Green Revolution. And he still has hope that things will change despite the government's intimidation. Another person who remains optimistic is Mohammed Sadeghi. He's an Iranian German living in Aachen, Germany. He runs the Facebook page of the former reformist presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi. Sadeghi says you can't be totally discouraged if you think of the Green Movement not as a political movement, but as a social one.
MOHAMMED SADEGHI: There's a whole new social identity now, the Green identity, which includes a very broad range of Iranians from all around the world who even might not be politically oriented before.
FARIVAR: Sadeghi describes the Green Movement as part of a larger struggle, going back a century, of how to integrate traditional Islamic values with liberalism, secularism and urbanism. He says that means Ahmadinejad, much less the Islamic Republic, won't be overturned any time soon. But seeds have been planted across the country.
SADEGHI: The big deal is the social identity which is there and which is going to be further developed and which is going to lead to great changes.
FARIVAR: Still, he concedes those changes could take a long time. Mousavi, via his Facebook page, famously called for his supporters to shout "Allah wa Akbar", or God is great from their rooftops in the days after the June 12th election. An Iranians in and outside the country have received numerous messages of support through Facebook, FriendFeed and Twitter. But Golnaz Esfandiari points all that online buzz hasn't translated into any meaningful political change. She is an Iranian born reporters who covers Iran for Radio Free Europe in Prague.
GOLNAZ ESFANDIARI: I think the problem with the Green Movement is, I don't know what's the strategy. I don't see any strategy. Even their goals are not clear. Mousavi said in one of his interviews, maybe two months ago, I don't know exactly, he said like the goal is to raise the awareness about the Green Movement in the society. But how do they want to do that and what is the strategy for moving forward this goal? I don't know.
FARIVAR: Indeed, getting the word out may be even harder now that Mousavi and another reformist leader, Mehdi Karroubi, have called off a major protest slated for tomorrow, the anniversary of the election. They said in a statement on Thursday that the protest would be canceled because they couldn't get government permission. For The World, I'm Cyrus Farivar in Bonn, Germany.