The Thinkers' Guide to the Iranian Showdown

The much-awaited Iranian elections occur this Friday. The incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been running a fiery campaign that became even more so when he took on his main rival Mir Hussein Mousavi in the country's first ever presidential debate.

The Wednesday debate broadcast on Iranian national television featured a particularly low blow by Ahmadinejad aimed at the moderate Mousavi's wife whose education credentials the president questioned.

With the issue of women's equality a touchstone of division in Iranian society, many observers said Ahmadinejad was attempting to stoke the kind of conservative support that has historically isolated women from widespread participation in Iran's social fabric. Indeed, Mr. Ahmedinejad has openly admitted his desire to return the country to the era of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

This week, the Big Think blog outlines the chief issues facing Iran in Friday's historic elections. Among others, we will consider:

Nuclear Armament Does Iran's nuclear infrastructure look like the U.S. transportation infrastructure or could the country really be a player in the arms race?

The Expat Return Iranians are returning to their homeland in droves after years or decades abroad. What is luring the expats back and who are they voting for?

Culture Iran has one of the most celebrated film scenes in the Middle East. So what is the silver screen saying about Iran and Iranians at this juncture in its politics?

The Role Of Women The chador has come off for many, there is hardly parity for Iranian women. Does Ms. Mousavi's role in the elections nod toward Iran's first First Lady?

Internet Though Facebook was just blocked for election week, the Iranian blogosphere is an especially rich with many voices sounding off on politics and social issues who would be immediately censored in print.

Further reading viewing:

Big Think's Iran experts: Azar Nafisi, Vali Nasr, Hooman Majd, and Ronen Bergman

Mahmoud Ahamadinejad's blog

Press TV series on Iranian election

The Carnegie Endowment's guide to the "(S)elections"

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