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Iran Updates: 10 Esfand / March 1

by JOSH SHAHRYAR, HOMYLAFAYETTE, DAN GEIST, TEHRAN BUREAU STAFF, and CORRESPONDENTS

01 Mar 2011 07:51Comments

MehdiAndFatemehKarroubi.jpgRahnavardAndMousavi.jpg


Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

6 p.m./March 2 An activist tells Tehran Bureau:

It seems like the regime is creating a "Green Zone" -- my sarcastic reference to the green zone in Baghdad -- in central Tehran. To the north is Motahari Boulevard (formerly Takht-e Tavous) and Fatemi Avenue (Aryamehr); to the east, Imam Hossein Square (Fouzieh); to the south, Imam Khomeini Avenue (ex Sepah), around the presidential palace as well as Mr. Mousavi's home; and finally, to the west, Azadi Square (formerly Shahyad). This is the area where the Green Movement took over for a while with their chants of "Death to the dictator," and the new joint slogan, "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein; Ya Mahdi, Sheik Mahdi," which infuse the names of the modern leaders of the Green Movement with Shia symbolism.

Last night the Green Zone was completely blacked out communication-wise. Though the Internet and telephone lines were working elsewhere, the regime managed to disconnect the demonstrators electronically and even physically in the Zone. The security forces initially created a wall and after the demonstrations reached their peak, moved in for the kill: tear gas, pepper gas, paint guns (to paint demonstrators and easily catch them afterward), rubber bullets, and around 7 p.m. near Enghelab Square, the sound of live ammunition. There were hundreds of arrests and hundreds got beaten and sprayed. I was with a group of friends and we last saw each other around 6:30 on Enghelab Avenue. We all ran in different directions and I have not managed to contact [one friend] ever since.

The Green Zone, however, seemed to be expanding rapidly and late in the evening, when I got back home, I heard of unrest in Islam Shahr (a small working-class town in southwest Tehran). This news is extremely interesting as it would mean that members of the lower classes are also joining the movement. Another welcome piece of news was about Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib in Shiraz (whose brother was murdered by the MEK while praying in a mosque). Ayatollah Dastgheib, who is a member of Khobregan, is challenging the Supreme Leader's decisions based on both human rights and Islamic scholarly teachings. So someone from the religious circle of the grand ayatollahs is still brave enough to directly challenge the Leader. And the last piece of news that cleared the tears off my tear gas-covered face was that the price of oil increased due to the unrest in Iran. Perhaps this is an indication that the international business community is losing faith in the regime and that the Islamic Republic cannot continue to buy business people elsewhere and keep on killing its own people.

11:40 p.m. A Tehran resident tells Tehran Bureau:

I wandered on down to Vanak, shopping in hand, the place was teeming with security on all corners of the square, plenty of plain-clothed police, some of whom sat in cars around the square. I'd not seen this before, that many parked cars occupying the now unused end strip of the bus lane. At first I thought they were cars claimed due to sounding of the horn, but upon a second pass there were people that sat within them.

If anything Vanak was abnormally quiet for that time of day. My guess is that the 'real shopping' was happening farther downtown. There was the presence of a new type of uniform, or at least it was the riot squad with the protective gear off, all black [clothing], big fellas too. I heard people being urged to not stay still and to move on. On this occasion, this one sat out.

Oddly enough my VPN is not working and another method of connection is not working. I expect the VPN to fail because it seems to have some link with the government here: http://www.iraniandubai.net; they have ceased to work on most protest days and were out for a few days following Feb. 14. Their reason being that the Mokhaberat [national telecoms provider] had caused this. The company has an Iranian bank account so they must operate with the knowledge of the government. My other method being blocked is more interesting because it shows the smarts of these guys. I'm using my third method, my backup tunneling method, nothing out of the ordinary but does the job albeit very, very painfully slowly.

11:10 p.m. Our marvelous mapster shows where the action happened today:

IranMarch1ProtestMap.jpg

As far as the English-language website of the official Islamic Republic News Agency is concerned, there was no news worth reporting about the protests or about the situation with Mousavi and Karroubi. Still, due attention was paid to human rights concerns with a featured story on Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast and his statement in which, as IRNA put it, "he reiterated that the US double standard policy and the statements made by its senior officials, particularly Ms Clinton, have weakened the human rights status in the world. The US authorities' approach has severely damaged the issue of human rights, Mehmanparast noted."

11:05 p.m. DW Persian has an extensive report (in Farsi) from a Tehran eyewitness:

The number of security forces today in Tehran was higher than February 14 and 20. There were a lot of plainclothesmen. The security forces hit the protesters hard in an attack at Vali Asr Crossroads and closed off the area. They fired a few shots in the air and the crowd dispersed.

We waited for half an hour in one of the side streets of Vali Asr and then exited with a few others. In the dark and cold, we started walking toward Enghelab and Azadi squares.

The entire crowd were walking toward the west on the sidewalks, but there were a lot of plainclothesmen among the people. The avenue was jammed with traffic. The signals wouldn't turn green or were forced to not turn green. The drivers were honking their horns. Every now and then, security forces would politely take someone aside and check their camera, cell phone, bag, or wallet and then take a picture. I could see people on scaffolds, taking people's pictures from a wide angle after a minute's pause.

Right before Navab Avenue, the crowd got denser and security forces moved to disperse them. People quickly turned down side streets. Some said there were clashes on Navab and they don't want people to get there. We went toward Tohid like the other times. Then, we went toward Azadi and saw that people were moving away from the avenue because there were clashes down there. People were being attacked by security forces and plainclothesmen.

The sound of honking horns was really loud and disturbing. The cold air was also making us suffer. Right then, they held two of my friends to check their equipment. We told them we were going home from work and because the roads were jammed with traffic, we had to walk.

Security forces had brutally attacked protesters. Some people told us they had fired shots in the air repeatedly.

I can't say how many people were there. But I can tell you that half the people on the sidewalks were security forces and Basij.

10:50 p.m. Some small items via BBC Persian:

Saham News claims that there were protests in Islamshahr, southwest of Tehran.

Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, senior advisor to Mousavi, told BBC that violence against protesters had lost its effectiveness.

An eyewitness reported hearing gunshots from Navab Avenue in Tehran.

Nedaye Sabze Azadi reports that the headquarters of the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as well as several madrassas, including Ayatollah Saeedi's, are being used as temporary detention centers for protesters.

A video purportedly shot in Shiraz this evening. It is especially difficult to authenticate the currency of nighttime videos, so we must often rely on the most basic tests: Is it compatible with the available verbal descriptions? In this case, yes. And has anyone seen it before? Everyone here is quite sure that they haven't seen this one before, but if you have, please let us know and point us to where:

10:15 p.m. From Mousavi's Facebook page -- the description of the violence as "unprecedented" may be generally accurate in comparison to the protests on February 14 and 20, but is not likely to be if the relevant timeframe encompasses 2009 and the protests that began in the aftermath of the June presidential election and extended to the Day of Ashura, in December:

Kalame reports unprecedented violence by security forces, plain clothes agents and anti riot police against protesters in the streets of Tehran today. The violent clashes continued in a variety of areas across Tehran at the time this report was published. It has been reported that a large group of protesters have been surrounded in and around Enghelab square.

The demonstrations today are in protest to the arrest and incarceration of the Green opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and their spouses, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi.

One of Kalame's reporters who was present on Enghelab street reports: "At around 6:30pm today a large crowd of people had gathered around Vali Asr square chanting 'Ya Hossein... Mir Hossein' and 'Ya Mehdi... Sheikh Mehdi.' Gun shots were heard while, protesters were attacked by anti riot police and plain clothes agents. I was in the middle of the crowd and like everyone else I tried to run away. When I arrived in a safe area, I realized that my jacket was stained with blood, splattered all over me as a result of people being shot."

An eye witness present around the side streets of Enghelab street reported: "We were stuck in one of the side streets. Tear gas had filled the street and we could hear gun shots coming from somewhere in our vicinity. People kept chanting 'Death to Dictator.'"

Here is an image of a banner apparently hung today along Tehran's Niyayesh Highway. It bears an image of Khamenei and the text "Dictator be payan salam kon" -- Dictator, say hello to the end. Below it is a brief video of the banner being hung.

HelloEndBanner.jpg

9:50 p.m. Saham News claims that protests continue in different parts of Tehran. Reports of chants of "Mousavi and Karroubi must be freed!" coming from the center of the city. BBC Persian's TV channel has apparently been jammed again around the country.

9:35 p.m. There are multiple reports that Fakhr ol-sadat Mohtashamipour has been arrested. She is the wife of imprisoned opposition activist Mostafa Tajzadeh -- deputy interior minister for security and political affairs in the Khatami administration. Mohtashamipour was briefly detained this past December.

Fakhrosaddat Mohtashamipour.jpg

BBC Persian reports that protests in Tehran's main squares continue and tear gas is being fired on protesters to disperse them.

In Shiraz, again according to BBC Persian, protesters chanted "Mubarak, Ben Ali, now it's time for Seyyed Ali" -- bracketing the ousted Egyptian and Tunisian dictators with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. As we reported, those chants were first heard in Tehran during the demonstrations of 25 Bahman.

9:10 p.m. Two videos purportedly from today. The first from Shiraz; the second from Mashhad. While we know that the BBC has associated its logo with one and aired the other, we can not independently confirm their authenticity:

8:50 p.m. Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi submits the following, based on reports from Saham News, the website of Mehdi Karroubi's National Trust Party; Kaleme, the website that is close to Mir Hossein Mousavi; and other online sources:

Two police cars were attacked and set on fire in Enghelab (Revolution) Square, next to the campus of the University of Tehran. It is not clear who the culprits are.

Reports indicate that a very large banner of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been set on fire in Sadeghiyeh Square. Security forces attacked people in an effort to take away the banner.

In many parts of Tehran large crowds gathered. They include Ferdowsi Square, and Navvab and Behboudi streets. According to an eyewitness a large crowd gathered in Jamalzadeh Street leading to Enghelan Square. Another eyewitness has reported that the Basij militia brutally attacked people on Vali Asr Street. Reports indicate that in Imam Hossein Square, where the marches were to begin, tear gas was used to disperse the crowd and prevent it from marching toward Enghelab Square.

Another report indicates that the special forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and plainclothes agents attacked people trying to move toward Azadi Square from Enghelab Square. Kaleme reports severe violence. Security forces attacked smaller crowds with batons and larger ones with tear gas. The slogans "Allah-o Akbar" and "Marg bar dictator" were heard up and down Azadi Street. Another eyewitness told Deutsche Welle that the violence is comprable with what occurred the immediate aftermath of the 2009 election.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast reacted angrily to the reaction and concerns of Western officials about recent developments in Iran. He said that the West should pay attention to the demonstrations on the anniversary of the revolution on February 11, not to those by the Green Movement that are done by "a small number of people." He also said that the arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi is an internal matter.

Majles Speaker Ali Larijani said that the report about the events of February 14 is confidential and will not be made public.

The Association of Combatant Clerics, the leftist clerical group that is headed by Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha, issued a statement condeming the arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi and demanded their immediate release.

Reporters without Borders demanded that the Islamic Republic be condemned in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations for the recent developments.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle asked his counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi to guarantee the well-being of Mousavi and Karroubi. White House spokesman Jay Carney and State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley have both condemned the arrest of the two leaders.

8:15 p.m. From Isfahan, an eyewitness tells BBC Persian that the protest there was peaceful and people did not chant too much. Security forces also reportedly treated protesters better than on 1 Esfand/February 20.

In Tehran, RAHANA reports that at least 50 protesters have been arrested in Enghelab Square.

8:10 p.m. According to RAHANA, Ahmad Abad Street in Mashhad -- hometown of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- has become the scene of heavy clashes between the people and security forces. An eyewitness reports, "The clashes are severe. They're just short of firing mortar shells! The number of arrests is very high. I can say that there have been at least 150 arrests."

A caller into BBC Persian says, "A lot of people were on the north side of Enghelab Street. Security forces shot tear gas at us when we reached a crossroads and corralled us into North Kargar Street. Once there, people started chanting. The sidewalks were filled with people." Other eyewitnesses add to the claims that security forces are breaking the windshields and mirrors of cars that are honking in support of the protesters in Tehran.

8:00 p.m. A protester just ran into a residence off a Tehran street to direct message us via Twitter: "People are furious over M/K's arrest and fighting back." On BBC Persian's radio program Nobateh Shoma (Your Turn), an eyewitness called in the following report:

Security did not know what to do. People were everywhere, chanting here and there. The Revolutionary Guards and Basijis started smashing car windows because they were at a loss about what to do. The people have to be thanked for coming out in their cars in such numbers. I'm going home now to freshen up, then go out again.

7:45 p.m. Press TV, the English-language subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, in a story on its website affirms the official denial that Mousavi and Karroubi have been arrested while at the same time advancing the odd claim that "steps" are being taken toward their eventual arrest -- apparently for their involvement in the events following the disputed presidential election over a year and a half ago:

An official with the Iranian Judiciary has rejected reports that the heads of the sedition movement, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been arrested.

"These two are presently in their own homes and restrictions have been imposed on their contact with suspicious elements," Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei was quoted by Fars News Agency as saying on Monday.

Mohseni-Ejei warned that if necessary, tougher measures would be taken against the "domestic counter-revolutionary movement."

"Today, this movement has gone beyond sedition and turned into [a] counter-revolutionary [one]," he added.

He pointed to limitations placed on social interaction and telephone contacts of the leaders of sedition and emphasized that further steps would be taken towards "their arrest and trial."

The spokesman said all aspects surrounding the case have been identified, stressing that the role of foreigners have become obvious.

7:35 p.m. According to BBC Persian, an eyewitness claims that protesters have taken control of Abiwardi Avenue in Tehran.

The office of the president of the European Parliament, Poland's Jerzy Buzek, has posted the text of his statement concerning the arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi:

I am deeply concerned by the arrest of the Iranian opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi yesterday night. Different reports concur that both candidates of the 2009 presidential election were taken by security forces to an unspecified location, together with their wives.

I firmly condemn this attempt at the personal integrity of the highest representatives of the democratic opposition in Iran. Their arrest is unfounded and unjustified by all standards. This attempt at intimidation is a grave violation of the most basic principles of democracy and justice.

In a republic, the peaceful expression of the people's aspirations should be self-evident. The heavy-handed crackdown on the democratic opposition shows once again the true face of the Iranian regime. The nervous reactions of the authorities are the best proof that the democratic movements in Egypt and Iran are driven by the same aspirations - freedom instead of authoritarian rule.

No regime can afford to disregard the people's will in the long run. Opposition leaders should be allowed to act freely in representing the views of their supporters. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi and their families should be released unconditionally and the Iranian authorities should provide explanations regarding their arrest with full transparency.

7:25 p.m. A fascinating piece appears near the top of the website of the semiofficial Fars news agency under the headline "Report: MKO behind False Report about Detention of Iran's Opposition Figures." It's worth excerpting at length to get a picture of how the government is portraying recent events:

Reports about the detention of opposition leaders by the Iranian government are false and have been fabricated and released by the members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) in a move to stir unrests in Iran, reliable sources said Tuesday. Jodashodegan website, a website affiliated to the defected members of the MKO, quoted sources privy to MKO headquarters in Paris as saying that the reports have been fabricated by the MKO's intelligence agents who have infiltrated into the overseas branch of the opposition movement led by Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

The Karroubi and Mousavi-led unrests originally started after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected as the next president of the country with over 62% percent of the votes cast in Iran's 10th presidential election in 2009. Both Karroubi and Mousavi have been top officials of the Islamic Republic for year[s].

Yet, both opposition figures have repeatedly underlined their hatred and disapproval of the MKO since the group has no public support within Iran because of its role in helping Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988).

The Jodashodegan website said that several MKO elements have also established a phone contact with the Persian-language Kalame website and tried to fool the website.

Disguised as discontent[ed] officials of the Islamic Republic, the MKO agents claimed that the Tehran government has arrested both Karroubi and Mousavi.

Minutes after the false report was released by Kalame website, an Iranian judicial official rejected the claim that Mousavi and Karroubi were moved to Tehran's Heshmatieh prison.

The official told FNA that the two men are currently in their houses and Iranian authorities have restricted their contacts merely with some suspected elements.

7:20 p.m. Regime-aligned website Raja News claims that people are out shopping for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, as usual. As we noted earlier, "shopping for New Year's" has apparently been adopted as a humorous code for protesting by supporters of the opposition.

7:15 p.m. According to a Tehran source, conveyed via a friend's Facebook status update, "There's a great crowd on Jamalzadeh Avenue. There are a lot of clashes but people are fighting back too. A lot of people have turned up!" CNN's Reza Sayah tweets, "Tehran witness -- protesters disrobe cleric riding as passenger on motorbike near Azadi & Enghelab." Kalame reports protesters in Ferdowsi Square and on Behboudi and Navab streets.

7:05 p.m. Eyewitnesses tell DW Persian that intense clashes have been taking place in Enghelab Square. BBC Persian has several reports that gunshots have been heard from Vanak Square.

6:55 p.m. Per BBC Persian, a Tehran eyewitness claims Basij militia are "mercilessly attacking" protesters in the area around Vali Asr Square and Crossroads. Jaras reports at least ten people arrested on Mashhad's Ahmad Abad Street, near Rahnamayi Crossroads.

6:45 p.m. Kaleme now backs the claim that there have been clashes in front of Tehran University. Tear gas was reportedly used on protesters there. Agence France Presse reports clashes and the use of tear gas in various central Tehran locations.

Homylafayette tells us that he hears the sounds of tear gas and/or shots being fired in the background as a caller speaks on ePersian radio from Azadi Avenue. He can also hear a chant of "Irani mimirad, zellat nemipazirad" (Iranians will die, but will not accept humiliation).

BBC Persian says there are now reports of protests in Karaj and Tabriz, as well as Tehran.

6:30 p.m. DW Persian conveys an eyewitnesses report of heavy clashes on Kargare Shomali Avenue. Eyewitnesses also tell DW Persian that people have gathered from Jamalzadeh Avenue to Enghelab Square and are chanting sporadically. Tear gas has been used several times in an attempt to disperse them -- nonetheless, it appears that the crowd is even larger than gathered in the area on 25 Bahman/February 14.

There is a rumor -- entirely unconfirmed -- that Mousavi has suffered a heart attack. ePersian claims that as a result, people are moving toward Resalat Hospital, where Mousavi has supposedly been taken. The hospital is at the corner of Abozar Street and Resalat Freeway, a few hundred yards north of the Defense Ministry.

The rain stopped in Tehran a few hours ago. The sun came out over parts of the city before it set about 40 minutes ago.

In Shiraz, a source claims that the crowd that had gathered in Namazi Avenue is being dispersed by security forces.

6:25 p.m. According to BBC Persian, eyewitnesses report that a large crowd has gathered in Enghelab Square and cars are honking their horns in protest. According to these reports, chants can be heard from Vesal Crossroads and "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein" and "Ya Mehdi" can be heard quite clearly. Several eyewitnesses claim that the number of protesters is increasing. Madyar tweets that three people have been arrested on Rudaki Avenue.

6:20 p.m. Iran Green Voice reports that Vali Asr Square and Behboodi Avenue are full of people. Reports suggest that people have gathered in Tohid Square as well and that there are people on many streets leading to Azadi Avenue. Kaleme, Mousavi's website, reports a large number of people on Enghelab. Persianbanoo tweets that there have been reports of clashes in front of Tehran University, and of people there chanting "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein."

6:10 p.m. Eyewitnesses tell BBC Persian that people created an artificial traffic congestion in Resalat Avenue to halt the advance of riot police and Basij. Bardia on EPersian says he is at the intersection of Vali Asr and Enghelab and that tear gas has been fired there. Ferdowsi Square has been closed off by police. People have gotten out of their cars and are walking westward down Enghelab toward Azadi Square.

According to Human Rights House of Iran (RAHANA), trash bins are being collected around the city by municipal workers to prevent protesters from setting fires in them.

GarbageCansCollected.jpg

5:55 p.m. A source in Shiraz claims that a lot of people have gathered in Mullah Sadra, but that no one is protesting yet.

Nikahang Kowsar, a popular Iranian cartoonist and editor now based in Washington, D.C., says that his Khodnevis website is being subjected to a severe denial-of-service (DOS) attack. We just tried to call up the page, at www.khodnevis.org, and were unsuccessful.

5:45 p.m. A protester tells Tehran Bureau:

Police are everywhere. I'm about to head out toward the square now. Because it's so cold, I'm not sure how many will show up. It's raining, and it was snowing this morning. To tell you the truth, I am worried about people who want to start something violent in the name of the people and give an excuse for the government for more repression. Here and today, getting beaten up is OK but getting shot sucks. You can see the eyes of the person beating you up, but you cannot see the one who shoots.

Despite the heavy presence of security personnel on the streets of Tehran, reports BBC Persian, cars are relentlessly honking their horns. Eyewitnesses say that shopkeepers in the center of the city, including those around Tehran University and Karim Khan Bridge, have been asked to close shop early today. One eyewitness claims that in a gathering of protesters in Imam Hossein Square, chants of "Marg bar Khamenei" (Death to Khamenei) could be heard.

5:05 p.m. Eyewitnesses tell BBC Persian that shouts of "Marg bar dictator" (Death to the dictator) can be heard sporadically amid the honking of car horns in the streets of central Tehran.

4:55 p.m. Madyar tweets that four people were just arrested in Keshavarz Boulevard in Tehran.

4:45 p.m. An eyewitness tells BBC Persian that the first group of protesters has gathered near Karim Khan Bridge and Wesal Avenue even though there are many riot police and Basijis stationed there.

Elsewhere, the prisoners at Rejaei Shahr in Karaj have pledged support for the protesters and opposition to the Iranian government.

4:30 p.m. A source in Shiraz tweets that he's going to "buy supplies for Eid" from Mullah Sadra (a major thoroughfare) to Eram (the city's famous botanical garden, and the name of a street as well). "Eid" is a festival or festival day -- the literal reference in this case would be to Eid-e Nowruz, the celebration of the Persian New Year, March 20 this year. "Buying supplies for Eid" is apparently jocular code for protesting.

4:05 p.m. Security forces have taken up positions in the main squares and along the major thoroughfares in the capital. There is a report of protesters chanting on Esteghlal Street.

3:50 p.m. It's raining in Tehran right now, as it has been most of the time since last night -- good protection against tear gas, say those in the know. The temperature is 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Concerning the calls to demonstrate today, one of our correspondents writes:

I am not pretending that I know what will happen, since I do not know. The events have become so unpredictable that no one can say what will come next.

This we know: Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karroubi and their wives are confined in a military prison called Heshmateyeh in the center of Tehran. They cannot be reached and their family members have not been able to visit them for days. An anonymous official in the ministry of intelligence has told Tabnak, a conservative outlet close to Mohsen Rezaei, former commander in chief of IRGC, that they have not been arrested but are being protected so counterrevolutionary elements will not take advantage of them. Officials appear most reluctant to admit publicly that they have arrested the wartime prime minister of Iran and the speaker of the Majles, the Iranian parliament, at the peak of revolutionary fervor. Nobody uses the "a" word.

The officials' silence might be inspired by the fact that both men and their wives have impeccable revolutionary credentials. Both were close to Ayatollah Khomeini, the charismatic leader and the founder of the Islamic Republic. Their wives, Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi, have played and play noteworthy roles in Iranian politics, sometimes independent of their husbands. More significantly, both men have acknowledged their wives' achievements. Their marriages appear to be genuine partnerships rather than traditional arrangements, in which the wife is subject to the husband. However their political background is not the only cause of the official silence regarding their condition. Caution demands it as well.

It seems officials are genuinely interested in avoiding provoking the public, while they are determined to restrict the public access to the two couples. The officials are mindful of the fact that both Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karroubi have a significant following among the veterans of war and revolution. Their reaction to the arrest of the two leaders and their wives at best would be unpredictable, and at worst could be violent. Having Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karroubi confided in a military establishment in the center of Tehran alongside their influential wives appears to be midway solution, at least in the short run.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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