Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls for ‘Maximum’ Turnout for Presidential Election as Voter Apathy High 

A billboard with a picture of the presidential candidates is displayed on a street in Tehran, Iran, June 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
A billboard with a picture of the presidential candidates is displayed on a street in Tehran, Iran, June 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
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Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls for ‘Maximum’ Turnout for Presidential Election as Voter Apathy High 

A billboard with a picture of the presidential candidates is displayed on a street in Tehran, Iran, June 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
A billboard with a picture of the presidential candidates is displayed on a street in Tehran, Iran, June 17, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

Iran’s supreme leader called Tuesday for “maximum” voter turnout in this week's presidential election to “overcome the enemy," denouncing politicians who he described as believing that everything good comes from the United States.

While not naming any particular candidates, the comments by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appeared to directly undercut the candidacy of the race's sole reformist candidate, 69-year-old heart surgeon Masoud Pezeshkian. In recent speeches, Pezeshkian has urged Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal and increase its outreach to the West.

“The one who has the slightest opposition to the revolution ... or the Islamic system, is not useful to you,” Khamenei said. “He will not be a good colleague for you.”

Khamenei's comments drew repeated cries of “Death to America, death to Israel” from a raucous crowd. The 85-year-old Khamenei had to urge the crowd to quiet themselves several times during his remarks.

Friday's election comes after a May helicopter crash that killed Iran's hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of Khamenei.

Khamenei's call comes after a parliamentary election that saw a record low turnout earlier this year. Voters across Tehran have expressed widespread apathy over the election as Iran faces an economy crushed by Western sanctions and after widespread anti-government protests in recent years, particularly after the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini and women refusing to wear the country's mandatory headscarf.



Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
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Internet Hasn't Been Restored in Bangladesh despite Apparent Calm Following Deadly Protests

Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)
Bangladeshi soldiers stand guard at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, amid the anti-quota protests in Dhaka on July 21, 2024. (Photo by Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP)

Internet and mobile data services are still down despite apparent calm in Bangladesh following a verdict that scaled back a controversial quota system for government jobs after weeks of relentless protests that turned deadly.
The government has also declared Monday a public holiday, with only essential services running. This comes after a curfew with a shoot-on-sight order was installed days earlier and military personnel could be seen patrolling the capital and other areas, The Associated Press said.
The South Asian country witnessed clashes between the police and mainly student protesters demanding an end to a quota that reserved 30% of government jobs for relatives of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.
The violence has killed more than a hundred people, according to at least four local newspapers. Authorities have not so far shared official figures for deaths. On Thursday, communications were cut off as tensions escalated.
There was no immediate violence reported on Monday morning after the Supreme Court ordered the veterans’ quota to be cut to 5%, with 93% of jobs allocated on merit, the day before. The remaining 2% will be set aside for members of ethnic minorities as well as transgender and disabled people.
On Sunday night, some student protesters urged the government to restore internet services. Hasnat Abdullah, a coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, told the Associated Press that they were withdrawing their calls for a complete shutdown, which they attempted to impose last week.
“But we are issuing an ultimatum for 48 hours to stop the digital crackdown and restore internet connectivity,” he said, adding that security officials deployed at various universities should be withdrawn, student dormitories reopened and steps taken so students can return to their campuses safely. Abdullah also said they wanted the government to end the curfew and ensure the country was back to normal within two days.
Students have also demanded some university officials to step down after failing to protect campuses. Sarjis Alam, another coordinator of the Anti-Discrimination Student Movement, said that they would continue with their protests if all their demands weren't met. “We cannot step back from our movement like a coward,” he added.
Another key organizer of the student protests, Nahid Islam, told reporters that the internet shutdown had disrupted their ability to communicate and alleged that authorities were trying to create divisions among protesters. “I am mentally traumatized ... our unity is being destroyed,” he said.
The US Embassy in the capital Dhaka described Sunday the situation as “extremely volatile” and “unpredictable,” adding that guns, tear gas and other weapons have been used in the vicinity of the embassy. They said the Bangladeshi army had been deployed and urged Americans to be vigilant, avoid large crowds and reconsider travel plans.
The protests have posed the most serious challenge to Bangladesh’s government since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won a fourth consecutive term in January elections that the main opposition groups boycotted. Universities have been closed, the internet has been shut off and the government has ordered people to stay at home.
Protesters had argued the quota system was discriminatory and benefited supporters of Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and wanted it replaced by a merit-based system. Hasina has defended the quota system, saying that veterans deserve the highest respect regardless of political affiliation.
The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has backed the protests, vowing to organize its own demonstrations as many of its supporters joined the student-led protests.
The Awami League and the BNP have often accused each other of fueling political chaos and violence, most recently ahead of the country’s national election, which was marred by a crackdown on several opposition figures.