Rafsanjani's main message: Don't write off reformists
Within hours of the Friday sermon, grainy cellphone videos surfaced showing crowds surging away from tear-gas plumes and kicking the canisters back toward police.
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But grainy videos shot on cellphones surfaced online within hours of the Friday sermon, showing dramatic street clashes between reformist protesters and police forces. Crowds surged away from plumes of tear gas rising off the tarmac outside the packed open-air prayer hall after security forces shot canisters at protesters thronging Tehran's Revolution Avenue. Demonstrators tied bandannas around their faces, hid behind cars, and kicked tear-gas canisters back in the direction of police forces.Skip to next paragraph
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Motorcycle-mounted riot units and ideological militiamen played cat-and-mouse with protesters who dispersed and regrouped, shouting slogans such as "independence and freedom is every Iranian's cry" and singing a nationalist anthem called "Oh Iran" that has become a symbol of opposition to the Islamic Republic.
"The opposition reaffirmed its strength after enduring a month of relentless attack by government forces, but the government will hang on to power with support from the armed forces and a segment of the more traditional and rural population," writes Nader Uscowi, a Washington-based Iran analyst and president of Uskowi Associates in an e-mail. "Ahmadinejad in his second term will pretend to be the president of all Iranians, and the opposition will assert that they are the future of the country. The future of Iran hangs in the balance."
Women's activist arrested on her way to sermon
On a Persian-language video posted on YouTube.com and shot outside the main prayer hall of Tehran University, pro-reform demonstrators could be seen ridiculing a cleric who was prompting them over a loudspeaker to shout slogans for the crowd to follow. The prayer assistant would shout "Death to Israel" and "Down with England" but the crowds retorted with "Down with Russia" – which was among the first countries to congratulate Mr. Ahmadinejad for his victory in the disputed June election. When the assistant shouted "the blood in our veins is a present for our supreme leader," the crowd responded with "the blood in our veins is a present for our people."
Women's activist Shadi Sadr was also arrested today while heading toward Friday prayers in a chador. According to a friend accompanying her, plainclothes security forces forced a struggling Ms. Sadr into an unmarked Peugeot car. "They took Shadi and beat her violently while she continued to resist them," the anonymous friend was quoted as saying on Meydaan.org, an online news site. "The official manhandled Shadi and it was apparent that for them her hijab [which had come undone in the altercations] wasn't even important."