Iranian security forces turned out in large numbers on the streets of Tehran March 16 to prevent possible opposition protests during a national festival. Iranians are celebrating Chahar-Shanbe Suri, a ceremony held ahead of the Persian New Year, Nowruz. People turned out on smaller neighborhood streets to light bonfires and set off fireworks, but news agencies reported that Tehran's main thoroughfares and squares were largely deserted except for police.
Its been a bad week for the 9-11 conspiranoia set. First, the Pentagon shooter appears to have emerged from within their milieu; now Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad weighs in for their wackiness in the most vulgar terms. From CNN, March 7:
Iranian security forces clashed with protesters and arrested dozens Feb. 11, as official commemorations were held to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, dissident websites reported. The Rahesabz website said clashes took place at Sadeghieh Square, about a kilometer from where hundreds of thousands of government supporters were gathered at Azadi (Freedom) Square. Witnesses said security forces fired tear gas and paint balls at crowds of protesters at several sites. Many protesters were waving green flags and chanting "Death to the dictator."
Iranian authorities have arrested seven for planning to provoke riots on Feb. 11, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, including several in the employ of the US Central Intelligence Agency, according to a statement released Feb. 7 by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The seven detained were said to be linked to the US-funded Radio Farda, a Prague-based Persian language radio station that has been blocked by the Iranian government, and was described in the statement as a counter-revolutionary and Zionist satellite channel. According to Iranian authorities, the seven were trained in Dubai and Istanbul and played a key role in the anti-government protests held in Tehran last December, during the Shi'ite holy day of Ashura. According to authorities, they were to flee the country after Feb. 11. (Jurist, Feb. 7)
Two Iranians were executed Jan. 28 and nine others have been sentenced to death for their roles in last summer's post-election protests, according to the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA). The two executed men, identified as Momammed Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, were convicted on charges of mohareb, or enmity against God, and had earlier been appeared in televised show trials. Amnesty International condemned the executions, saying, "[t]hese shocking executions show that the Iranian authorities will stop at nothing to stamp out the peaceful protests that persist since the election." (Jurist, Jan. 28)
Iran's Guardians Council, the body charged with assuring that legislation conforms to Islamic law, on Jan. 13 approved President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's "Economic Reform Plan," which will remove subsidies on oil, electricity, water and basic foods. The Majlis, Iran's parliament, passed the bill last week, following controversy with Ahmadinejad, who sought to distribute a portion of the anticipated $100 billion in annual savings (some 30% of the total government budget) to Iran's poor through government-sponsored savings accounts. Opposition lawmakers wanted all Iranians to benefit from the savings, and sought greater oversight of the funds. Under a compromise, the Supreme Iranian Audit Court will oversee the accounts. (RFE/RL, The Majlis blog, Jan. 14; Zawya, Jan. 6; Press TV, Jan. 5; Tehran Times, Jan. 4; Press TV, Jan. 3)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, commenting Jan. 14 on the murder of a leading quantum physicist, said, "The method of bombing was a Zionist one." The scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, died when a bomb strapped to a motorbike was triggered by remote control as he was leaving his home the morning of Jan. 12. Hundreds attended his funeral, shouting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani, both former presidents who now support the oppsotion, condemned the attack in separate statements. (Indian Express, AlJazeera, Jan. 15)