Quds Day Updates
by TARA MAHTAFAR
18 Sep 2009 14:30
Clashes erupt in afternoon
Tehran Bureau | Sept. 18, 2009
Witnesses present at the Quds Day rallies held Friday in Tehran report that while security forces showed restraint early in the day, violence escalated in the late afternoon as anti-riot guards and Basij militia clashed with opposition protesters.
In some cases, protesters stood their ground, hurling stones at security forces and chasing them to engage in bare-fisted sparring, witnesses said. "People seemed less fearful compared to previous demonstrations," one participant said. "This time, they were fighting back."
Throughout the day, regular police officers reportedly stayed on the sidelines for the most part.
Police officers even protected the demonstrators in one instance cited by an eyewitness. "Plainclothes forces attempted to attack a group of protesters carrying a long green banner, but the police intervened and prevented physical confrontation."
Scattered clashes continued into the early evening. In the end, large amounts of teargas were used to dispel the demonstrators. -- Tara Mahtafar
Tehran Bureau | Sept. 18, 2009
The Associated Press reported today that "Several tens of thousands joined the opposition marches, witnesses said, far smaller than the masses that turned out in the Quds Day rallies, which were helped by government organizing."
A number of eyewitnesses who participated in Friday's Quds Day demonstrations in Tehran disagreed.
"The difference in the size of the crowds was enormous," said a 30-year-old male opposition supporter. "The opposition turnout was comparable to the Friday Prayers led by Hashemi Rafsanjani in July."
Arash Kamangir, an Iranian human rights activist on Facebook, confirmed that supporters of the Green Movement turned out in higher numbers than their government-sponsored counterparts. "The video footage taken of rallies in various locations in Tehran show that the chanting of the protesters drowns out the sound of slogans blared over the loudspeakers. This could not happen if the Ahmadinejad backers were the larger crowd."
Still another Tehran-based eyewitness cited the combined areas of the squares and streets in downtown Tehran packed with protesters as an indication of their massive turnout. "The length of the Enquelab Street-Azadi Square route was filled with chanting protesters. They also filled Haft-e-Tir Square, Keshavarz Boulevard, Kargar Street, 16 Azar Street, and Valiasr Square. Judging by these areas taken together, the opposition crowd in total had to have been over one hundred thousand today." [Click on Green houses on this interactive Google Map to see video and locations.]
At Tehran University, however, the site of Friday Prayers and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech, pro-government protesters outnumbered the "Greens." -- Tara Mahtafar
Click here for photos of both camps.
Rival Rallies Turn Violent in Tehran; Protest Is Opposition's Largest in 2 Months
WaPo | Sept. 18, 2009
More than 100,000 opposition supporters took to the streets in Tehran, and similar demonstrations were reported in several other Iranian cities. Although the protesters were outnumbered by government supporters observing Quds Day, it was the largest opposition turnout since mid-July, when protests against Ahmadinejad's disputed victory in the June 12 presidential election ran into a fierce government crackdown.
State television employees, doing live broadcasts on the official rally from Enghelab Street, pointed their cameras at the ground as groups of anti-government demonstrators passed by, flashing victory signs and shouting, "The resistance has not died; it's the government that has died."
Enduring America | Sept. 18, 2009
Iranian state television was carrying tonight's big football match only in parts, only in black-and-white, and without sound. This was supposedly because Iran's national broadcaster could find only one (presumably very old) camera, rather than because thousands of people had gone to the stadium wearing Green and chanting Green slogans.
Qods Day roundup by Golab P.
From Agh Bahman:
The police were standing there the whole time; the non-uniformed [militia] forces were also there. And like always, a camera was filming us. On a few occasions, fights broke out between people.
There was a girl who was holding photos of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. When she passed by me, as I was saying "death to the dictator," she asked, "So, what happened to the long live my opponents?"But she passed me by quickly and didn't let me answer. A few times, people got into arguments. [The argument was about] saying traitor or dictator. One time, the argument turned into a fight.
When Khatami left, there was a small fight between those who were saying long live Khatami and those who were saying death to Khatami, but people were able to end it right there and then.
A group was carrying big photos of Nasrallah and Khamenei; they were just standing there. When the greens passed them by, they started chanting "death to the dictator."
We came out of the rally at 12:30, but I think it is going to go on [for some time.] I'm happy, and once again I'm feeling reassured. I think a great thing happened today. Victory is ours ... I have no doubt.
As state radio was carrying an interview with Ahmadinejad, there was a loud "Ahmadi, resign, resign" coming from behind him. They quickly wrapped up the interview.
I checked again, no photos on Mehrnews, Farsnews, Rajanews or ISNA -- and there are reports on Balatarin that state TV is showing footage from previous years. Did the greens have THAT big a turnout?
The most important aspect of today's demonstrations was that, they did not
take place only in Tehran, but also in many other cities around Iran, including Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Rasht, Mashhad, Qom, and Kermanshah. [Click here for 80 videos.]
This was the clearest manifestation of the depth and breadth of the Green Movement. In addition, despite the hardliners' best efforts to scare people and keep them off the streets, large demonstrations took place, which is indicative of the fact that the Green Movement is alive, well and thriving.
From Jason Rezaian | CS Monitor
While many opposition protesters reportedly wore their signature color of green, eyewitnesses say that in some areas it was hard to tell where demonstrators stood politically.
"It's hard to know who was who, as people seemed afraid to speak with fellow demonstrators," says a middle-aged investment analyst, contacted by phone in Tehran, who attended a demonstration near Tehran University. "I tried to initiate conversations with a few guys younger than me, but they didn't want to talk."
The lack of a decisive victory for the opposition may buoy the government in this round of post-election conflict, but Iranian authorities gave several clear indications leading up to Friday's celebrations that they are still concerned by the country's growing opposition movement.
Mir Hossein Mousavi entrourage hold back attacker who was shouting obscenities as well.
Tabnak's photos of other politicians out on Quds Day.
Payvand's photos Green show of force.
Photo: Azadi StreetYouTube video: protesters v riot police
Tehran recap from Muhammad Sahimi | 10:30 a.m. Eastern
Supporters of the Green Movement gathered at 7 Tir square (a major intersection) and began moving toward Tehran University, where the Friday prayers and Ahmadinejad's speech were to be held. Mehdi Karroubi joined the demonstrators and walked with them all the way to the vicinity of Tehran University.
To prevent the Green Movement's supporters from penetrating Tehran University, public buses had been used to block all the streets around the campus. Security forces, the Basij militia, and plainclothes agents used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the demonstrators.
Former president Mohammad Khatami joined the demonstrators close to Palestine square, a short distance from the campus of the University of Tehran. He was then attacked by a mob led by Abolfazl Shariatmadari, son of Hossein Shariatmadari, the hard-line managing editor of Kayhan, the mouthpiece of the hardliners and security forces. Khatami was rescued by the people, and sustained minor injuries. He was then taken away.
All of 7 Tir square, Karim Khan Zand and Keshavarz boulevards, and Hejab Street were filled with supporters of the Green Movement. A large crowd also gathered in Azadi Square, and walked toward Enghelan Square, a short distance from the campus of Tehran University.
Some of the slogans chanted were:
Palestine, we are just like you
Oh [Imam] Hossein, Mir Hossen [Mousavi]
Karroubi, Mousavi, we support you
Death to Russia
Torture, rape, have no longer any effect
Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I'll die for Iran
Leave Palestine alone
Long love [Dr. Saeed] Hajjarian [the jailed reformist strategist], long live Mousavi
Long live [Grand Ayatoollah Hossein Ali] Montazeri, Long live Karroubi
The real Basiji, Hemmat and Bakeri [two commanders killed in Iran-Iraq
war, whose families support the Green Movement]
Long live Montazeri, long live [Grand Ayatollah Yousef] Sanei
And to Ahmadinejad:
Shut up liar
Rumors continue to persist that the arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi are imminent. Several relatives, children, and grandchildren of the jailed reformist leaders have also been arrested, in order to pressure the leaders to "confess." In one case, one of the reformist leaders has been told that, "we have found so much evidence against your son that his punishment is death," in order to get him to "confess."
Photo of beaten protester.
YouTube video: Official slogan goes: "Death to America," people shout back "Death to Russia."
No location given for photo.
Not to be outdone.
The Spin: IRNA claims only 500 'Greens' came out on Qods day
Rokhdad | Sept. 18, 2009
The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said only 500 Greens turned up for the Qods rally, but soon fled after encountering the pious people of Tehran.
According to IRNA, a group of people wearing green garments violated the sanctity of Ramadan by eating in public and smoking.
Another group had green branches, wristbands and banners with them and were even wearing green shoes.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, despite the green group's actions the police and people showed no reaction, which infuriated the Greens and prompted them to change their route.
The report said that "these seditionists chanted slogans against IRNA upon passing the headquarters of the news agency."
IRNA claims Karroubi bodyguard fired teargas
Rokhdad | Sept. 18, 2009
The official Islamic Republic News Agency claimed Mehdi Karroubi's presence at the Qods Day rallies created an uproar, prompting one of his bodyguards to fire teargas into the crowd to disrupt the rally.
IRNA went on to also claim that as soon as Karroubi appeared, people began chanting slogans such as "death to seditionist", "Karroubi you liar don't forget Jazayeri" and "Karroubi must be jailed."
Mowjcamp photos. (18 Sept)
iReport video of Quds Day. Video (18 Sept)
Photos from Quds Day Gooya.com (18 Sept)
From a Tehran resident (17 Sept):
Hello, People will come out but many are also leaving Tehran as it is a long weekend. Saturday is half closed and Sunday is a holiday. Many who participated in previous demonstrations are leaving Tehran or have left already and many are much scared of what happened to their colleagues, friends and other citizens.
Mir Hossein Mousavi Facebook page | Thur (US Eastern)
[Mehdi] Karrubi to be in 7 Tir Sq. tommorow 11a.m. (+3:30 GMT)
Mehdi Karroubi cartoon character's message on the wall: "The road to Qods passes through Pasteur Street [where President's Office is located]." Cartoon by Nikahang Kowsar/Roozonline