Video: Young Iranians fill streets in celebration of their new president, Hossan Rouhani

June 15, 2013

This video, uploaded by a popular Persian-language YouTube channel and circulated by the Iran news site Tehran Bureau, purports to show young Iranians celebrating in the streets of Shiraz, a city in the country's south. They are said to have gathered spontaneously in support of Hassan Rouhani, the moderate former nuclear negotiator, who has won Iran's election to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president.

It's impossible to watch this video, of young Iranians cheering the election outcome, and not think of the very different videos that filled YouTube and social media after the country's 2009 presidential election. That vote, which was highly disputed but saw Ahmadinejad return to power, led to mass street protests under the auspices of a "green revolution" that was ultimately crushed by an army of riot police.

Many of the protesters in 2009 were young and liberal-minded, a demographic that also appeared to support Rouhani this time around. To see them cheering in the streets is a remarkable contrast with 2009's anger and violence, as well as the sometimes-bitter apathy many Iranians were left with.

Many Western analysts see Rouhani, who was predisposed to compromise during his 2003 to 2005 tenure as nuclear negotiator and who has more recently expressed an emphasis on diplomacy over confrontation, as a force for moderation who could help to ease the long-running nuclear standoff with the West. But his election is, perhaps first and foremost, a victory for the Iranian citizens, whatever their stance on the nuclear issue, who saw their votes respected and their voices heard.

Update: It appears that the video was most likely posted late on Friday night, Iran time, after some vote totals had been released showing a strong Rouhani lead but before he was officially announced as the winner.

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