The Moment

12|27|09: Tehran

At the heart of Shi'a Islam is a 1,400-year-old passion play of political succession: the hero is Hussain, grandson of the Prophet; the villain is Yazid, the usurper of the Caliphate; and each year on the holy day of Ashura, their bloody conflict is re-enacted as a Shi'ite cri de coeur. Iran, the pre-eminent Shi'ite nation, commemorated Ashura amid its own power struggle. Tens of thousands took to the streets, chanting, "We are the army of Imam Hussain ... supporters of Mir-Hossein." Hussain had become Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the declared loser in last June's presidential election to the "usurper" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The...

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