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In Iran, New Burst of Demonstrations Escalate Political Tensions

Hundreds of Iranian opposition supporters gathered Thursday to mourn slain demonstrator Neda Agha Soltan. Police reportedly used tear gas to break up the crowd. A Los Angeles Times reporter discusses the latest developments.

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    Borzou Daragahi, welcome. Thank you for being with us.

    The authorities in Iran refused to grant permission for this mass mourning event today, and yet thousands of people showed up. How unusual is that?

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI, Los Angeles Times:

    Well, it's not only that they didn't get permission and showed up anyway, it's also that they've been coming out fairly regularly for protests, being beaten, being hurt, being tear-gassed, being in some cases followed home and arrested, and yet they continue to keep going.

    And they say that they're going to keep going even if they get hurt or jailed, and that that's the unusual part, and this is kind of unprecedented in that way.

    The Islamic republic has a playbook by which it usually deals with this kind of unrest, as it dealt with it in 1999 and 2003, and even in the early years of the revolution, when there was still a lot of opposition to the type of clerical rule that was established.

    All of their methods — the jailings, the beatings, the threats, the threats of airing forced confessions on television — are not working this time. And so you've got a sort of panic in the establishment as they try to figure out what to do to contain this movement.