The Islamic conservatives, although a minority in Iran, have found a formula to hang on to power. First, they persecute any reformers that speak up. This includes murder, although recently the courts (controlled by Islamic conservatives) have prosecuted some of the Islamic vigilantes who were too enthusiastic about killing "enemies of Islam." The opposition has gotten so strong that even the merchants, who financed the revolution that got the Islamic conservatives into power 25 years ago, have turned against the clerics. But the Islamic conservatives are currently untouchable because of the nuclear weapons program. The "Iranian Bomb" is immensely popular throughout the population. People who hate the government, love the bomb.