Friday, September 18, 2009


Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has come under attack in Tehran during an annual rally in support of Palestinians, reports say.
Mr Mousavi was forced to leave the Quds Day rally after an attack on his car, official news agency Irna reported.
In a separate incident ex-President Mohammad Khatami was knocked to the ground, a reformist website reported.
Thousands have taken to the streets of Tehran, both opposition and government supporters.

BBC former Tehran correspondent Jim Muir

In the absence of unfettered reporting, it's hard to get an accurate picture of the scale of the opposition turnout in the Jerusalem Day marches, and the seriousness of the ensuing clashes and incidents.
But the impression is that the event did not see the re-ignition of the opposition cause and the launching of a dynamic new phase in its career, over two months after it was last able to make a show of strength on the streets.
Reformist opponents of the controversially re-elected President Ahmadinejad seem to have been massively outnumbered by system loyalists eager to demonstrate their support for the president and his patron, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Initial reports of skirmishes, beatings and arrests did not speak of massive confrontations but minor incidents involving small numbers of people.
Iranian authorities had warned the opposition not to stage anti-government protests during Quds (Jerusalem) Day.
The rallies are held nationwide every year on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Protesters shouted slogans in support of Mr Mousavi, a key opponent of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during the rally.
Mr Mousavi was defeated by the president in June's disputed presidential election.
Although it is an officially sponsored occasion, opposition leaders who have continued to reject the re-election of Mr Ahmadinejad had called on their followers to turn out.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps said it would deal "decisively" with any effort to stage an opposition protest.
There have been mounting calls in hard-line circles for opposition leaders to be prosecuted, and predictions from reformists that they could be arrested soon, says the BBC's former Tehran correspondent Jim Muir.
The day began peacefully with thousands of Mr Ahmadinejad's supporters marching along roads in central Tehran.

12 June: Millions vote in presidential election. Turnout put at 85%
13 June: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared winner with 62.6%. Rival candidates challenge the result and allege vote-rigging
Mass opposition protests in days that follow. At least 30 people are killed and 4,000 arrested
19 June: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backs the result and warns against further protests
1 Aug: Trials begin of hundreds arrested over the unrest. Senior opposition leaders among the defendants
5 Aug: President Ahmadinejad sworn in for second term
Police and security troops were present.

According to Reuters news agency there were clashes between Iranian police and protesters as the march progressed, with some arrests.
Reformist website reported that Mr Khatami was pushed to the ground, and his turban knocked off, before police intervened.
Mr Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at Tehran University in which he criticised the creation of Israel, and reiterated his claims that the Holocaust was a "myth".
For the past 30 years, the sermon on Jerusalem Day has been given by the former President, Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Our correspondent says Mr Rafsanjani is normally regarded as a pillar of the Islamic power system, but he quietly sympathises with the opposition.
This year he has been stood down in favour of a hard-line preacher.
In the aftermath of the election, there was a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, with a number of deaths and hundreds of people arrested.



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