Iran revolution anniversary sparks clashes, arrests in Tehran
As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Thursday that Iran had produced a higher grade of nuclear fuel, opposition protesters clashed with security forces on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
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About 1 kilometer from where Ahmadinejad spoke to government supporters Thursday, opposition protesters clashed with security forces. AFP reports that police and plainclothes security agents attacked the vehicles of opposition leaders Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi, and that some of their relatives, as well as the granddaughter of Iran's revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, were arrested. Police also fired teargas at protesters, the paper reported, based on accounts from an opposition website.Skip to next paragraph
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The Los Angeles Times quotes a news website reporting that security forces had fired on a crowd of protesters. Independent confirmation was difficult because foreign media were kept from the site of the protests.
After noon, a witness reported clashes along Enghelab Street east of Azadi Square, where security forces began arresting people.
Security forces on side streets were beating people, the witness said, with a dozen or so Basiji militiamen deployed at each intersection and uniformed security forces trying in vain to disperse crowds chanting, "Death to the dictator."
Clashes also broke out around Vali Asr Square, where a motorcycle was torched. Military helicopters hovered over the area.
The Christian Science Monitor reported Wednesday that the anniversary rally would be a showdown that could shape the future of Iran. Opposition protesters have challenged Iran’s government since weeks of chaos last summer, when the government violently cracked down on those protesting the results of Iran’s presidential election, which they claim was marred by fraud.
“It’s going to be a big show of force, a big competition between the two sides over who can rule this day – and who can lay claim to the legacy of the revolution,” says Ahmad Sadri, an Iran specialist at Lake Forest College in Illinois.
At issue are fundamental questions that have been fought over in the streets, in the prisons, and from the pulpits of Iran for eight months. At stake is who are the true heirs of Iran's revolution and its first promises of “Independence, freedom, [and] Islamic Republic.”