What we may be witnessing in Iran these days is a revolution within the Islamic Revolution. If successfully carried out, the net effect would be more like a coup, in which the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tramples on Iran's existing, tangled pluralistic system, and establishes what amounts to a neo-conservative dictatorship with the blessing of the country's spiritual leader. The problem for Ahmadinejad and his backers, however, is they may have underestimated the power of their opponents.
Iran's presidential campaign has plunged the country into a social frenzy. It has reached a point now where a full-blown culture war is serving as the backdrop for election day on June 12. Ahmadinejad enjoys the backing of legions of poor, pious Iranians -- most of them hailing from the country's economically distressed regions. His chief presidential rival, Mir Hussein Mousavi, meanwhile, is the champion of Iran's middle class and urban, educated elite. This election has thus taken on the characteristics of a battle for Iran's soul.
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Kamal Nazer Yasin is a pseudonym for a freelance journalist specializing in Iranian affairs.