Supporters of two leading reformist presidential candidates, former prime minister Mir Hussein Mousavi and former parliament speaker, Mehdi Karroubi are using the internet, including blogs and Facebook, to beef up their chances of being selected as presidential candidates by the Guardian Council in June's election.
In this post, we look at Mousavi supporters as a first journey into Iran's election cyber-battleground. Around 1000 bloggers have announced that they support Mir Hussein Mousavi. Their names and web addresses are published on Mirhussein.com, a website created by “a big group of bloggers supporting Mousavi.”
In his speeches, Mousavi has previously criticized president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's “mismanagment”. Mousavi has said that he would work to build international confidence that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are peaceful. Mousavi has also spoken in defense of “free media” in the past, although he refused to promise to release political prisoners if he became president.
The bloggers who support Mousavi write about many different topics, from religion to sports, and they differ ideologically too. They also live in various corners of the country. Some of the blogs have been around for long time, while other have created their blogs especially for the election. We can divide pro-Mousavi bloggers into several different categories, including:
Fundementalists: Islam is superior to everything, is one of Mousavi's listed supporters. The blogger does not explain why he supports Mousavi, but has also published several photos of the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei and who could easily be considered a fundamentalist.
Non-Political Bloggers: Another blogger who backs former prime minister for the presidency is Perspolis Ghahreman, a blog that talks mainly about football. Perspolis is a very popular soccer/football team in Iran. Another blog announcing its support is, Modyryat, Eghtesad, Toseh (Managment, Economy, Development), an economics blog.
Election bloggers without geographic focus: Barayeh Mirhussein (for Mir Hussein) was recently created by its author for writings about the former prime minister's candidacy and his ideas. This blog quotes Mir Hussein Mousavi for saying that the government's most important problems are inflation and unemployment, and that it should be possible to create private TV channels in Iran. Barayeh Mirhussein does not represent any specific local community.
Election bloggers with geographic focus: Mousavi's supporters in Dubai is a good example of a blog by a group of Iranian expatriates in a foreign country. Mousavi supporters have also launched a blog, named Nasim 88 in the Iranian city Ardebil too.
Former Khatami supporters: Khatami88 is a blog that was previously launched to support former reformist president Mohmmad Khatami's bid for the presidency. But as soon as Khatami stepped out of the election race and announced his support for Mir Hussein, these supporters followed.
Although blogs are not very good as a sample to study the Iranian population's electoral preferences as a whole, at least we can see from the wide range of Mousavi's supporters in the blogosphere that support for his candidacy is not limited to any one specific group.