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Day 5 of Iran protests: Where do we stand?

As tens of thousands marched in Tehran Wednesday, the government moved to recount ballots and crack down on bloggers and news websites.

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What the protesters want

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Here's how a commenter on Farq summed it up:

1. Dismissal of Khamenei for not being a fair leader

2. Dismissal of Ahmadinejad for his illegal acts

3. Temporary appointment of Ayatollah Montazeri as the Supreme Leader

4. Recognition of Mousavi as the President

5. Forming the Cabinet by Mousavi to prepare for revising the Constitution

6. unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners

7. Dissolution of all organs of repression, public or secret.

How they're getting the word out

Iran has blamed Western news outlets, bloggers, and others participating in a widespread Internet campaign for fomenting unrest. Despite sustained interruptions in TV, Internet, text messaging, and cellphone services; an increasing number of websites being blocked; and even proxy servers – which Mousavi supporters have used to get around Iranian censorship of Facebook and other sites – being targeted, protesters are persistently finding a way to get the message out.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it would take legal action against websites. It said US and Canadian companies were supporting these websites that were inciting people to riot.

"[C]ertain countries have rushed to judgment and have supported the illegal gatherings and the disturbances that a number of opportunists had created," Iran's foreign ministry said.

Ahmadinejad's miracle

"Read carefully: What I saw today was the most elegant scene I had ever witnessed in my life," wrote a participant in Monday's massive pro-reformist rally whose blog post was picked up by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. After "about 15 people" attacked him while riding in a taxi with his wife and daughter, he joined the crowds where he said he saw signs reading, "The Miracle of the Third Millennium: 2 x 2 = 24 millions" – a reference to Ahmadinejad's surprisingly high total of 24 million votes, according to official results.

An "Iranian graduate" quoted in the Guardian said the Iranian blogger community was one of the top 10 in the world, saying its "social function" played a more significant role in Iran than Europe due to censorship.

Is this the next Tiananmen?

Abbas Barzegar argues in the Guardian that it is not. He says the rallies – estimated to be the most massive since the 1979 Islamic revolution – are evidence of an Iranian identity crisis spawned 30 years ago. The wealthy elite, he writes, and the "extremely large conservative segment" of the Iranian population have increasingly grown apart.

"Living in separate sections of the cities and working and socialising among their own, they have thus come to understand themselves and Iran in entirely different trajectories. Thirty years of mutual distaste has now burst forth upon the streets in the form of an election contest....

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