Protests on Thursday commemorating the 10th anniversary of the student uprising at Tehran University in 1999 drew multitudes of demonstrators in at least nine cities across Iran, in open defiance of regime security forces.
The regime put on a tough front on the eve of the protests, declaring it would quash with violence any efforts to hold unauthorized demonstrations, even if they were nonviolent.
The head of the national police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, said on Wednesday he had received no requests for any protests on Thursday, and that any illegal gathering would be strongly confronted by police.
Police used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse anti-regime protestors who gathered near Tehran University on Thursday.
There were several unconfirmed reports of protestors being shot in Tehran by regime-controlled basij militiamen.
“The slogans being chanted today were much more radical than before,” said Roozbeh Farahanipour, a leader of the 1999 student protests who returned clandestinely to Iran earlier this week to spearhead Thursday’s nationwide protest movement.
Read more about this: “Opposition Leader Returns to Iran to Lead Protests.”
“What we were hearing were slogans such as ‘Down with the Islamic Republic,’ 'No to Mousavi, No to Ahmadi [nejad],’ ‘Death to Khamenei,’ ‘Death to the dictator,’” Farahanipour told Newsmax on Thursday from inside Iran.
Protestors also chanted slogans against Mojtaba Khamenei, the powerful son of the supreme leader, who has been identified in recent days as the guiding force behind this latest security crackdown and an heir apparent to his father’s position as the ultimate ruler of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Mousavi asked people to go to mosques today to pray for reform of the regime,” Farahanipour said. “We called for people to go to the streets.”
In Tehran, amateur videos showed protests in several parts of the capital, where demonstrators blocked streets with honking cars and defied anti-riot troops.
Protests also erupted against the regime in at least eight cities in addition to Tehran, including Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, and Mashhad, according to wire reports and Iranian bloggers on the scene.
Farahanipour said that his ability to enter Iran, and move from city to city, while using a variety of public communication devices, showed “the weakness of the regime, its intelligence services, and its border security.”
On Wednesday night, he gave a live interview to a Los Angeles-based television network from an undisclosed location inside Iran, which then transmitted his words back into Iran.
No other opposition leader before Farahanipour has dared return to Iran to lead protests.
The son of the former shah, Reza Pahlavi, spoke to reporters in Paris on Thursday, and called for international support of the pro-democracy movement. But sources close to Pahlavi told Newsmax that he had no plans to return to Iran anytime soon.
To frustrate the protests, the regime cut off cell phone coverage in Tehran, and decreed a two-day holiday, ostensibly for health reasons.
In recent months, the Revolutionary Guards have built an enormous cell phone tower at Milad, north of Tehran, where they have installed jamming devices to prevent satellite communications from reaching Iran from overseas.
Photographs of the jamming devices were released on Thursday by the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, www.iran.org.
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