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At stake in Iran uprising: trust in the Islamic Revolution

Despite street violence on Saturday that officially claimed 13 lives, opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi again on Sunday called for the June 12 election results to be annulled.

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Iranian security personnel gathered during a march Saturday on a street in Tehran in this picture uploaded on Twitter.

Reuters

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The weight of Iran's electoral crisis is turning into a tug-of-war over the fate of the country's Islamic revolution, as opposition leaders continue to defy the orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei to accept defeat and halt protests.

Iranians convinced that the landslide victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a fraud have turned out by the hundreds of thousands in the past week in Tehran and other cities.

But despite street violence on Saturday that officially claimed 13 lives – sources in Tehran suggest the real toll may be several times higher – opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi again on Sunday called for the election results to be annulled.

The uprising is challenging the legitimacy of Iran's Islamic system of rule – which places Ayatollah Khamenei at the top, as "God's deputy on Earth" – like never before.

"This is about the very survival and legitimacy of the Islamic Republic," says Ahmad Sadri, an Iran expert at Lake Forest College in Illinois. "The excuse is the [voting] irregularities, but the real complaints go very deep, to the very nature of the system."

Mousavi seeks reform, not a new system

Mr. Mousavi has taken care to distance himself from any attempt to overthrow a system that he, as a revolutionary prime minister in the 1980s, helped to create and preserve.

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