Ahmadinejad's Big Rally for Subsidy Cuts
by CORRESPONDENT in Tehran
28 Dec 2010 23:21
[ on the scene ] I went to Ahmadinejad's big rally-and-fire-spitting extravaganza in Karaj today. It was probably the largest gathering he's had, so far as his provincial visits go. There were around 22,000 people present. It was also the first time in two decades Sepah, the Revolutionary Guards, provided security for a government rally in full uniform. There were about 250 officers I could count on the ground. Overall, there were about 3,500 security personnel -- Sepah, NAJA, Basij -- on rooftops, lining the street, at the stadium.
We heard they had spent $100,000 on billboards and banners the previous week for an event that got cancelled for security reasons. They must have spent the same amount this week. That's a hefty sum in Iran.
Last night, residents of Karaj's Gohardasht district burnt some of those billboards and banners. Many have been arrested. Gohardasht is considered the heartland of the Greens in Karaj. It is solidly middle class and they are all very militant.
What was striking about the rally today was how phlegmatic the eight to ten thousand people inside the stadium were. Nothing roused them from their stupor. I think the economic crisis is sapping their already dulled spirits.