by OMID MEMARIAN and TARA NESVADERANI[ primer] Iran’s youth have been politically active since the 1953 ouster of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. The death of three students in protests against Vice President Nixon’s 1953 visit — to support the shah after a CIA-backed coup against the elected government — is still a national holiday. The young were key players in the 1979 revolution. Today, their strength is also in numbers. A baby boom after the revolution almost doubled the population from 34 million to 62 million in the first decade. Iran is now one of the youngest societies in the world, skewing politics, the economy and social pressures. The demographic bulge is one of the biggest threats to the status quo.
The youth bloc has been shaped by political and military crises. In the 1980s, they were the majority of combatants in the eight-year war with Iraq; even pre-teen Basij volunteers became human minesweepers. In the 1990s, Iranian youth demanded their post-war due in politics, the economy and society. By 1997, their growing numbers helped elect reformist President Mohammad Khatami. But as he failed to produce change, the young pulled back. The partial youth boycott of the 2005 presidential election was key to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election. Their reentry into politics in the 2009 election seriously altered Iranian politics. Read more
October 1, 2010 63 Comments