The establishment in Iran came out in support of the recent Egyptian and Tunisian protests, describing them as an ‘Islamic awakening’ inspired by the Islamic Revolution. However, similar protests and opposition rallies in its own backyard are being described as ‘political moves’ and are being dealt with quite severely according to many reports.
One person was reportedly shot dead in the violent clashes between protesters and security forces in central Tehran on Monday and dozens of protesters were detained. Opposition leaders were placed under house arrest.
This is the first major show of dissent since December 2009, when eight people were killed, and thousands of opposition supporters gathered at Tehran’s Azadi Square on Monday in solidarity with the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
However, it was apparently not long before riot police fired tear gas and men on motorbikes charged the crowd with batons.
Earlier on Monday, police placed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi under house arrest and blocked access to his home in an effort to prevent him from attending the rally.
The former speaker of parliament and a senior cleric, Mehdi Karroubi, was also reportedly placed under house arrest.
Both Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi disputed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 and this triggered huge protests and prompted the authorities to launch a brutal crackdown.
The opposition groups claim that more than 80 of its supporters were killed in the six months following the protests, several have subsequently been sentenced to death and countless others have been jailed. The government, on the other hand, disputes these figures.
The demonstrations on this occasion were relatively small and fairly easily ‘dealt with’ by the security forces, but the seeds of discontent are evident, just as they were in Egypt and Tunisia.