Four Obama Copycats Aim to Get Iran's Presidential Crown





Hamid Tehrani is journalist, blogger and researcher. He is Iran editor of Global Voices and co founder of March 18 Movement.

If Obama is a brand, then Iranian presidential candidates are its top consumers. Some of the candidates have directly borrowed Obama’s campaign slogan or method and all, it seems, grasp the importance of Internet usage in this campaign.

Their attempts to apply Obama’s presidential campaign’s slogan, promises and strategy in the Islamic Republic sometimes receive caricatured dimensions. The Iranian presidential election is not free. Only four faithful servants of the Islamic Republic among more than 400 candidates obtained the green light from Iranian authorities to run for election.

Change Mantra: Mehdi Karrubi – 71-year-old cleric and former Speaker of Parliament – is Obama‘s top copycat among the candidates. He literally made Change his slogan and announces that his government will be a government committed to change. The irony is that while Karrubi has Obama’s slogan in his mouth, he faces McCain’s age problem.

Some western media see Obama everywhere and mistakenly considered Ahmadinejad’s ‘we can’ an imitation of Obama’s campaign; however, the Iranian president used it four years ago in his campaign.

Satan Talk: All four candidates, including Mir Hussein Mousavi, former Prime Minister; Mohsen Rezai, former leader of revolutionary guards; and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad copycatted Obama’s platform promise to talk to Iran's enemies. Obama announced that he will negotiate with Iran and other countries that Bush labeled as members of the Axis of Evil. All Iranian candidates say that negotiating with the U.S., the "Great Satan," is quite possible.

 Michelle Obama dressing as a nun: The media would love to see an Iranian first lady like Michelle Obama. Zahra Rahnavard (wife of Mousavi) has been called Iran’s Michelle Obama by the western media. This could be partially due to her being an academic, holding the hand of her husband and being involved in Mousavi’s campaign. His supporters like to present her as a one who can promote the country’s image in Mousavis’ foreign trips, if he wins election, and become a model for Iranian women and girls. It may be hard to imagine a Michelle Obama wearing a nun’s habit and promoting the country’s image.

One main problem is that in order to become a first lady, your husband should be the first man in country. Ayatollah Khamenei is the first man and will remain so.

Facebook Fever: The Internet and social networking websites played a great role in fundraising and mobilizing voters in Obama’s campaign. All four Iranian candidates learned from his example, though they haven't been using the web to fundraise. Mousavi’s supporters used Facebook, and for the first time, Internet TV. Thousands of bloggers have rallied to support him. Karrubi also used Facebook actively. Ahmadinejad’s virtual campaign is state-of-the-art; all digital tools are there from Twitter to Facebook, but his supporters used YouTube much more effectively than other candidates. Rezai also plays the Internet card, but less than the other candidates.

Ahmadinejad’s three opponents, both in the virtual world and in real campaigns, promise a honeymoon of development and citizen rights after the election. Obama did the same, but after his victory, there was no Supreme Leader to watch over him. In Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei is there. He always reminds us that he has only one vote. In reality, the Leader does not need more; the last word is always his.


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