Iranian Twitter users, inside and outside of Iran: (Via I Like Patterns)
Chanting Allahu akbar” — God is greatest — and “Ahmadi, we love you” the army of hardliners poured into central Tehran in a massive show of strength for President Ahmadinejad.
After a weekend of violence by supporters of his relatively moderate challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, this was an exercise designed to reclaim the capital’s streets in the name of the establishment.
“The protesters are lying. There was no cheating,” declared Farang Kamalwand, 39, a woman in a chador who had travelled 450 miles by bus from Lorestan.
“We came to prove to people outside this country that we love and support our President,” said Karamollah Rahimi, a builder who had spent nine hours travelling from Lordegan
The exuberance of last week, when Mr Mousavi appeared to be heading for a spectacular victory, turned to terror in the space of a few hours on Friday night as the regime unleashed its forces on the opposition.
All weekend, late into the night, squads of 30 or 40 riot police tore round the capital on motorbikes, roaring along pavements when the roads were blocked, and waded into crowds of chanting Mousavi supporters with their batons. Others charged up streets on foot, or rode around in black Toyota Land Cruisers. They used teargas, rubber bullets and stun grenades, and by Saturday night they had been joined by marauding bands of basiji — volunteer paramilitaries — waving the national flag and chanting Ahmadinejad slogans.
Nobody was spared. The Times witnessed an old woman in a long black chador being beaten in a doorway after she hurled insults at the police, a teacher clubbed to the ground by a basij as he tried to protect his demonstrating students and countless protesters carried away with blood streaming from their wounds.
One human rights activist called it a “Tehran Tiananmen”, referring to China’s brutal suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989.
Mousavi aides accused the regime of mounting a “coup détat”. His supporters retaliated by throwing stones, smashing windows, setting fire to buses and rubbish skips, and making barricades of burning tyres. “Mousavi is our President,” they chanted, and “What happened to our vote?” It was the worst unrest in the capital since the student riots of 1999.
There were reports of demonstrations in Tabriz, Siraz and other Iranian cities, but they were impossible to confirm because the regime all but shut down the telephone system. It blocked text messages, Facebook and several opposition websites to prevent Mousavi supporters from mobilising en masse.
The BBC and other news websites were jammed. Foreign journalists were denied extensions to their visas, ensuring that most would have to leave today or tomorrow.
Opposition newspapers were ordered to carry positive headlines dwelling on Friday’s massive turnout, but some refused. One that supports Mousavi ran a story about Mother’s Day on its front page by way of protest. Another, which supported Mehdi Karoubi, another of the four candidates, mocked the election with a headline proclaiming: “Karoubi comes fifth”. IRIB, the monopoly state broadcaster, has scarcely mentioned the riots.
Mousavi supporters are torn between fury, fear and despair. The green ribbons, headbands, shirts and bandanas with which so many were festooned last week have vanished — to wear them now would invite a beating.
Such nice people those Iranian Government thugs, no?
Update #4: ABC News International Reports:
A spokesman for Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi says his camp will keep pushing to change the results of Friday’s election that gave incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad a landslide win.
“We are going to stay in the streets and ask the mullahs to give fatwas that Ahmedinejad is not our president. We are going to ask the Leader, through the will of the people, to change his mind,” said Mostafa Makhmalbaf, who is speaking to the foreign press on Mousavi’s behalf from his home in Paris.
“I don’t think we can do a total Revolution in Iran but we can make some change,” he told ABC News, describing what would be an unprecedented reversal for the Islamic Republic.
Mousavi’s campaign claims the announced outcome, which gave Ahmedinejad 63 percent of the vote, was fraudulent.
Ahmedinejad and state election officials, some of them his appointees, have said the election was fair and accurate, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed Ahmedinejad’s landslide win on Saturday morning. “The most magnificent contemporary election took place on Friday in Iran … to us this [complaint] lacks any legal base, and to our nation as well it is without any legal value,” Ahmedinejad said today at a victory press conference. International observers have pointed to irregularities; the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, noted a handful of concerns including a lack of data made available to support the overall count.
Makhmalbaf said the campaign urged governments around the world not to accept Ahmedinejad’s election as president.
“He is a coup d’etat man,” said Makhmalbaf, referring to the election results as “a state of fascism.”
Mousavi has called for the results to be dismissed and a new vote taken. His camp has planned a rally for Monday, marching from Tehran’s Engelab to Azadi Squares. Mousavi himself and former President Mohamed Khatami, his political backer, plan to attend the event.
Over the weekend, protests were met with a harsh response from riot police, who attacked demonstrators with batons and tear gas.
“People are like fire nowadays. Whatever Ahmedinejad does it will be worse. Saturday morning the city was in shock. Now in the coming days you’ll see a change,” Makhmalbaf said.
Makhmalbaf clarified rumors that Mousavi was under house arrest, saying there was no official detention but that police were keeping watch on his home, exerting enough pressure to keep him indoors.
Read the rest of that one, it is quite interesting.
Closing this Live Blog and will post more, as it comes in.
Update #5: Part III of this Blog is here