An push to boycott the country’s upcoming elections is being driven by an online campaign lead by Iranian expatriates who oppose the theocratic regime governing in Tehran.
Last month, accounts belonging to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a France-based opposition group considered one of Iran’s most powerful opposition movements headed up an online movement where posts encouraging the boycott have reached over 300,000.
“What election?! It’s a puppet show run by [religious leader Ayatollah] Khamenei to create the illusion of a democracy,” was tweeted by a person purporting to be an exiled Iranian living in Europe.The two candidates are portrayed as two sides of the same coin. #Shamelections, #MyVoteRegimeChange, and other anti-election hashtags are beginning to trend on Twitter, as are slogans like, “Boycott the faked election”, and “there is no difference between Rouhani and Raisi,” in reference to the two leading candidates in Iran’s May 19th elections — President Hassan Rouhani, and Ehbrahim Raisi. This is because Raisi is one of the four Sharia judges who oversaw the executions of tens of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, and many have attacked Rouhani saying he “has been directly involved in all of Iran regime’s crimes” and “has overseen the arrest, torture, and executions of hundreds of people over his four-year presidency.”
The majority of the tweets seem to have originated outside of Iran, from countries including France, Germany and Albania, where the NCRI has a significant presence. The NCRI enjoys the support of many major officials, including Chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee, Senator John McCain, who met with NCRI officials in Albania last month, praising them for their “sacrifice for freedom” in Iran, according to reports.
NCRI users uploaded videos that allegedly show Iranians k holding signs against elections, or against Rouhani, or Raisi in public places in Tehran and Ara. It is said that these actions were coordinated by Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), the military wing of the NCRI.
Reuters expects Rouhani to be re-elected, due of his support among urban populations and women, who believe there will be a welcome relax on restrictions of social behavior. However, the Iranian opposition claims, the opposite, arguing that little has changed during Rouhani’s presidency.