Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After a Lull, Protests Revive in Iran

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After a Lull, Protests Revive in Iran

Article excerpt

Iranian protesters continue to challenge disputed election results, even as their numbers dwindle in the face of a widespread crackdown by security forces and their leader remains out of sight.

Several thousand Iranians held an unauthorized rally on Sunday to challenge the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, using an annual commemoration day - for a 1981 bombing that killed more than 70 of Iran's top revolutionary leaders - as an excuse to gather.

The protests were broken up by police wielding batons and firing tear gas. One witness told the Monitor that the demonstrators included conservative and older women dressed all in black chadors - who were among the most abusive in their anger toward the basiji militiamen.

"Savages!" shouted one woman. "How can an Iranian strike his Iranian brothers and sisters?"

"They've disgraced the regime," said another older woman, according to this witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns. "Did we have a revolution so they could spill our children's blood?"

Mousavi out of the public eye

Defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has not been seen in public for more than a week. He addressed the rally near Tehran's Ghoba mosque by a mobile phone, which supporters held up to a megaphone.

When riot police began to move in Sunday, protesters locked their arms briefly to hold them back, before they were forced to disband and had to flee. The witness to the rally said that politics had now changed in Iran, even if eventually the protests - which just two weeks ago brought hundreds of thousands of Iranians onto the street - are completely quelled.

"This unprecedented wave of public dissent has set in motion a current that may eventually lead to the regime's demise," says the witness.

This Iranian has been struck by the severity and tone of those calling into Persian-language satellite TV broadcasts such as Voice of America - especially against Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei.

"Watching VOA every night, people call in from far-off provinces - Baluchestan, Ahvaz, Ilaam, etc. - to curse Khamenei openly and vehemently, and say that 70 percent voted Mousavi in their hometowns, large and small alike," says the witness. …

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