Renewed clashes in Tehran as Moussavi plans speech


Tehran : With clashes continuing Sunday night on the streets in Tehran, Iran’s opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi plans to make a speech to Iranians in the capital’s Azadi (Freedom) square.

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Eyewitnesses from several parts of Tehran say clashes between Moussavi supporters and police were continuing and had grown more violent since Saturday scuffles.

Police also tried to prevent clashes between Moussavi supporters and those of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose supporters were on motorbikes and holding clubs similar to baseball bats.

Police were forced to fire into the air and deploy tear gas to disperse protesters, whose numbers steadily increased. Some demonstrators burnt tires and public trash cans.

Moussavi supporters claim that there have been numerous injuries and arrests, but these claims cannot be verified. The police said some 60 demonstrators were arrested and more would follow.

In northern Tehran the demonstrators were encouraged by residents who joined the protest wave from their balconies and windows with Allah’o Akbar (God is Great) slogans.

Also car drivers, who were stuck in a heavy traffic jam due to either police blockades or demonstrators on the streets, passively joined the protests by honking their horns in concert.

Ahmadinejad himself termed the protesters as unimportant and compared them to football fans whose favourite team has lost in a final game and who let out their frustration after leaving the stadium.

Talking to tens of thousands of his supporters, who had gathered in downtown Tehran to celebrate his re-election with 62 percent of the votes, Ahmadinejad also called on Moussavi to accept defeat and stop making trouble.

Moussavi however went on the offensive and called on Iran’s Guardian Council to nullify the results of the presidential election.

Moussavi said in a statement on his website – which is filtered and only accessible though illegal proxies – that he had forwarded an official request to the Guardian Council asking it to nullify the results.

The two other candidates in the presidential race, Mohsen Rezaei and Mehdi Karroubi, have reportedly officially filed a complaint at the Guardian Council.

Moussavi has accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the interior ministry of cheating in the voting process, and claimed that he was the real winner of the election.

Besides Moussavi, several opposition parties and groups have as well doubted the election results and even an influential clergy group has called on new elections.

Also Sunday, US Vice President Joe Biden weighed in, saying that the United States finds the recent Iranian re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “questionable,” but would accept the results “for the time being”.

Moussavi invited his supporters for a peaceful rally from the Tehran university to Freedom Square where he also plans to hold a speech.

The rally and the speech however need a special permission from the interior ministry, which Moussavi is unlikely to receive.

Moussavi has threatened to start a sit-in protest in case his request is turned down by the interior ministry.

Moussavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, has sent mails through her office to Iranian recipients asking them to protest by simply shouting Allah’o Akbar and not getting engaged in any violence. Moussavi had made a similar request earlier Sunday.

Meanwhile several reformist parties said that a large number of their members as well as reformist journalists were arrested. The Iranian judiciary said that the party members were not arrested but just summoned and released again.