Rallies for Mousavi before Friday’s election that has resulted in widespread demonstrations.
The fervent reaction that has come from Saturdays election results in Iran is still just as strong as it initially was. The reaction of Ahmadinejad, equating the demonstrators to hooligans following a Soccer match, rather then trying to unite the country, likely seems that it will feed resentments as the demonstrations continue.
Fires, assaults, hurled stones, and confrontations between Mousavi supporters and police have continued, as a number of Ahmadinejad counter demonstrators have also emerged to display their support for him.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Protesters battled police over Iran’s disputed election and shouted their opposition from the rooftops Sunday, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the unrest as little more than “passions after a soccer match” and drew his own huge rally of support.
Just after sundown, cries of “death to the dictator” echoed through Tehran as thousands of backers for Ahmadinejad’s rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, heeded a call to bellow from the roofs and balconies. The deeply symbolic act recalled the shouts of “Allahu Akbar,” or God is Great, to show opposition to the Western-backed monarchy before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The scenes summed up the showdown over the disputed elections: an outwardly confident Ahmadinejad exerted control, while Mousavi showed no sign of backing down and could be staking out a new role as powerful opposition voice.
Several news reporters from outside the country have been ordered to leave and the Tehran buerua of the Arab news agency Al-Ayrabia has temporarily been shut down. At least 100 demonstrators are said to have been detained, including the brother of ex-Ahmadinejad rival and former Iranian President Khatami. cellphone access is also said to be cut off and the BBC has has been blocked from covering the events.
The chants of defiance seem to be growing louder as for the first time in over a quarter century, many Iranians are being heard shouting “Death to the Dictator” across Iran. An ironic twist as just decades ago it was young Iranian revolutionaries “yelling to America” and exclamations of “The Great Satan” in describing America, in what was likely many of the very same streets Amadeinejad meanwhile has and said that he could be penalized for speaking out against the incumbent President, and there are questions as to whether the Iranian forces will ensure Mousavi’s safety; claims that will not contribute to bringing any tranquility or ellicit satisfaction from the demonstrators.
Also Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the prestigious ‘Assembly of Experts’ which oversees the activities, selection, and dismissal of the Supreme Leader in Iran, has ceded his position, alleging voter fraud and widespread intimidation. The board according to the structure of Iran, is the one body that can overrule the Supreme leader who yesterday gave the election results his blessing.
In my last post regarding this situation, I referenced the Prague Spring, in which many in the Soviet state of Czechoslovakia rebelled when Soviet tanks in 1968 rolled into the capitol city of Prague and sought to dismantle the government of that country that strayed from the path of Soviet doctrine, becoming more independent, enacting liberal political reforms, and granting the citizens more freedom. If these demonstrations and outcries are sustained with the eyes of the globe fixed on them, and Mousavi and his supporters remaining firm in their opposition of the election results, this could indeed come to resemble something of the Prague Spring. Though this time rather then a country’s people rebelling and fighting to stave off an outside force seeking to reassert its dominion on a small state, this will be a portion of the country’s citizenry demonstrating against what they allege are the brutal practices and rigged system of government that is nurtured and propped up by the Mullahs within. Interesting to see what will happen next.
There have also been protests in some cities in the United States, especially those Iranian-Americans in several large cities on Sunday to show solidarity with the demonstrators and express outrage at what they believe to be an unfair election.
Update (2:03pm/ET)- Here is Mousavi’s Twitter account.
Update (10:16AM/ET 6/15/09)- Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for an investigation into last week’s controversial election results./