These days, (one of the) wars is over numbers.
One way the opposition is trying to gauge the numbers on the Ahmadinejad camp, is through approximating the number of visitors his provincial appearances get and comparing it to previous years and the presidential campaign rallies. Of course, that’s not a good estimate for “supporters” given the number of government employees and schools that are forced/asked to attend the gatherings, but still, it is the best approximation we can get.
Kalemeh has posted this letter from a high school in Esfahan, asking parents to sign the form so that students could be taken to “welcome the respected president Dr. Ahmadinejad” yesterday, when he was in Esfahan.
Anyone who has gone to school in Iran is familiar with these letters.
Although we personally never received one to greet the president during the Khatami years. It was always the leader and other (unelected) officials.
Kalemeh also compares the participants in yesterday’s rally with that of Khatami’s visit before the presidential election, when he was campaigning for Mousavi in Esfahan in the exact same location Ahamdinejad was yesterday. This is a photo of the Khatami rally in June:
If you are going to say that it is unfair to compare a campaign rally to a provincial visit, I would rush to agree … HOWEVER if you’ve ever lived in Iran or worked or gone to school there, you would know that letters like the one above are very common. The government tries its best to drag as many people as possible to these visits, so the fact that they could not come out with a huge number, and the fact that Ahmadinejad was FOUR hours late and the rally was going to be canceled are all things to think about.
AyandehNews has more photos and a video.