Opposition web sites are reporting that big protests broke out Sunday afternoon in several major cities in Iran. The rallies were confronted by police, basij paramilitary, and plains clothes security forces, first with tear gas and then with live ammunition. It is being alleged that at least 4 protesters have been shot dead, and that one is the nephew of opposition leader and former presidential candidate Mir Husain Mousavi.
Sayyid Ali Husain Mousavi, 34, was said to have been taken to Ibn Sina Hospital after being shot in the heart during a demonstration in downtown Tehran.
After initially denying that anyone had been killed, Iranian official media are now acknowledging several deaths, but declining to identify them as protestors shot by security men.
After mourning sessions Sunday morning at spiritual centers called Husayniyehs or takyehs, crowds issued into alleys and streets, mixing religious slogans with pro-opposition ones. (They chanted, “O Husayn (grandson of the Prophet), Mir Husain (i.e. presidential contender Mir Husain Mousavi).”)
Reports came in of the capital’s streets being full of smoke and fires. Reports of large numbers of arrrests are circulating.
In Shiraz in the southwest, there was a policee crackdown on demonstrators and pro-regime elements are said to have surrounded the house of prominent cleric Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastghaib, a member of the Assembly of Experts who appears to be critical of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Authorities deployed pepper spray and tear gas against crowds in Isfahan, who continued to mourn the passing of regime critic Ayatollah Husain Ali Montazeri along with their Ashura mourning.
Similar reports came in from Tabriz, Mashhad and other cities.
Some important points:
For the regime to create a member of the Mousavi family as a martyr on Ashura was most unwise. Shiite Islam even more than traditional Catholicism thrives on the blood of martyrs.
Junior or middle-ranking Ayatollahs favorable to the ideas of Montazeri show up in a number of these reports about protests in provincial cities, suggesting a generational split in the clerical corps and trouble for Khamenei ahead.
Iran’s political crisis is far from over, even though the opposition has little hope of coming to power as long as the security forces remain firmly behind Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
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