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Tags: Iran | West | defiance | demonstration

Iran Hails Show of Western Defiance

Friday, 12 February 2010 11:15 AM

TEHRAN — The Iranian people put on a show of solidarity for the Islamic revolution anniversary despite foreign-backed efforts to wreck the event with opposition protests, the Friday prayer leader in Tehran said.

"The bombardment of propaganda by enemies through their websites and networks ... had no impact but created more solidarity," as hundreds of thousands took part in state-sponsored celebrations, said Kazem Sedighi.

"Those inside the country who had ... contaminated the atmosphere ... thought the revolution had been defeated and it was the funeral of the revolution," he said at Tehran University, in a sermon aired on state radio.

"Some of them moved out and some stayed thinking 'Let us make a deal with the United States and Britain,'" said Sedighi.

"Even under the harshest circumstances, we will never give up on our leader, country, independence and security which we have achieved at the cost of martyrs," he said in the Islamic republic's main weekly sermon.

On Thursday, the anniversary of the 1979 revolution which toppled the Western-backed shah, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and police clamped down on opposition protests. Related article: Key dates since the 1979 revolution

As vast crowds massed in central Tehran, the security forces attacked opposition leaders Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi while clashing with their supporters, an opposition website said.

The State Department said US monitoring showed Iran had attempted "a near total information blockade" to deal with the protesters, which a spokesman labelled as an "unprecedented, overwhelming step."

Opposition website Rahesabz and witnesses said clashes took place at Sadeghieh Square, about a kilometre (half a mile) from a massive regime-organised rally at Azadi (freedom) Square.

The website said the cars of the two leaders came under attack by police and plainclothes security men but that neither man was hurt. It added that police fired tear gas at crowds of opposition supporters at several sites.

Zahra Rahnavard, wife of main opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, was also "beaten" while Mousavi himself was prevented by security forces from joining the rally, according to another opposition website, Kaleme.org.

The reports could not be independently confirmed.

The foreign media have been barred from covering opposition street protests which broke out after the disputed re-election of hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June.

Celebrations to mark the anniversary have traditionally been festive and an opportunity for Iranian leaders to showcase public support. This year's event was marred by protests despite a massive security operation.

The scale of the crackdown was evident on the streets of suburban Tehran late on Thursday, when witnesses saw queues of up to 150 people outside police stations hoping to check on arrested relatives.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, 12 February 2010 11:15 AM
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