Who is Mir Hossein Mousavi?

The politics of the man behind Iran's pro-democracy uprising

What happened

Mir Hossein Mousavi called on supporters to demonstrate peacefully Thursday against the official tally that put him at a distant second in Iran's presidential election. Mousavi also asked people to gather in mosques to honor those killed or wounded in clashes with riot police. (Reuters) President Obama said Westerners shouldn't overestimate the differences between Mousavi and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States," Obama said. (Politico)

What the commentators said

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Sorry, folks, but Mir Hossein Mousavi is no moderate, said Jay Solomon in The Wall Street Journal. It's true that he campaigned on a promise to improve relations with the West, but he governed as a social conservative when he was prime minister in the 1980s. And diplomats say he "remains a committed supporter of the values and clerical system born of the 1979 Iranian Islamic revolution."

Don't overlook the crucial difference between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Iran's current rulers, said former BBC and Al Jazeera journalist Shirin Sadeghi in The Huffington Post. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and Iran's powerful clerics are completely out of touch with their people, and rule as if what ordinary Iranians want doesn't matter. "Mousavi is now firmly coming into his own" as leader of an opposition that is promising to change things for the better.

You're confusing Mir Hossein Mousavi, the man, with Mousavi, the symbol, said Eric Trager in New Majority. Mousavi's supporters believe he was robbed of the presidency in a rigged election, so he has become the poster boy of Iran's insurgent pro-democratic movement. But "his reserved tone and sudden populism mask a dark history of religious fanaticism, support for terrorism, and perpetuation of authoritarianism."

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