Intifada At Isfahan

Iran protests intensify, prompting state of emergency in Isfahan

Iran security forces and opposition protesters stepped up clashes on Wednesday in the city of Isfahan, the birthplace of Iran’s top dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Montazeri’s death this past weekend, and the rituals marking his passing, coincide with a new push by regime opponents during a 10-day religious commemoration.

The government has responded by harassing two reformist clerics who could replace Montazeri, as well as stripping the opposition’s top political figure – Mir Hossein Mousavi – of his sole official post.

In Isfahan, pro-regime basiji militiamen used batons, chains, and stones to beat mourners who gathered at the city’s main mosque to remember Montazeri, the spiritual mentor of the Iranian opposition, whose websites reported the clashes.

“While people were reciting the Quran [in the mosque], plainclothed forces attacked them and threw tear gas into the mosque yard and sprayed those inside with pepper spray after they closed the doors,” reported the reformist Parlemannews. “They severely beat the people inside,” then doused the clerical speaker with pepper spray and arrested him.

“Tens of thousands gathered outside for the memorial but were savagely attacked by security forces and the basijis,” witness Farid Salavati told the Associated Press. He said that dozens were injured as riot police and vigilantes clubbed and kicked men and women alike – some in the face – and arrested 50 people who had gathered to mourn the grand ayatollah.

Montazeri – the chosen successor of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, until a falling out in 1989 – had been unrelenting in his criticism of the officially declared reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June, as well as of Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is invalid,” protesters shouted on Wednesday, referring to violence since June, in which severe force has been used against Iranians who marched to reverse the official result. They wanted to see the “Green Movement” presidential candidate, Mr. Mousavi, elected. Scores died in June and thousands were arrested; protests have flared repeatedly around the nation since then.

In Isfahan, the clashes on Wednesday portend more violence, as protesters and pro-government forces alike prepare for the religious peak of the Shiite calendar, Ashura, which falls on Sunday. By the end of the day on Wednesday, it was reported that the governor had announced a state of emergency and reportedly called in the military for help.

“The regime has no alternative but to try to block the commemorations of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, because it has been state policy to demote him,” says Mehrdad Khonsari of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London. “But given the events of the last six months, this only aggravates the situation [and] becomes a catalyst for more protests and is counter-productive.

“Every demonstration is a dress rehearsal for the next demonstration. Once Ashura is over next week, there will be more demonstrations,” says Mr. Khonsari. “The fact is there is no likelihood that these protests are going to come to an end anytime soon.”

See also:
Police, protesters clash in southern Iran
Iran forces clash with cleric’s mourners: websites
Iran: unrest reported in Isfahan
Iran warns that it will deal ‘fiercely’ with protesters
Iran security forces clash with protesters in Isfahan
Iranian security forces suppress new wave of opposition protests in Isfahan
Isfahan beset by violence
Iran behaves increasingly like a ‘police state’: US
Iran Beats Mourners, Signaling Harder Line
Esfahan / Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center N32°40′ E51°40′
Esfahan (Isfahan) Nuclear Technology Center
Could This Be A Tipping Point?

It looks like this coming weekend might be shaping up as the largest nationwide Iranian opposition protest yet and, judging by recent events, it could also be the bloodiest. I can only hope, especially after reading this, that all the Green Movement pain won’t be in vain and these protests eventually reach the point of no return, critical mass, the overthow of the Iranian mullahs, regime change.

/Go Green!

Could This Be A Tipping Point?

Clashes Erupt at Reformist Cleric’s Funeral

Hundreds of thousands of Iranian mourners, including opposition leaders and influential senior clerics, attended the funeral of the country’s top dissident cleric in the holy city of Qom on Monday, turning the event into one of the largest antiregime protests the city has seen in three decades.

The funeral procession of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, one of the regime’s harshest critics, began peacefully. But opposition protesters used the charged event to chant against Iran’s leaders, and security forces and riot police responded by attacking mourners with shoes, stones and tear gas, according to news reports and videos circulating on the Internet.

On Sunday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a condolence message for the deceased cleric, a founding architect of the Islamic Republic, who fell out with the regime in the late 1980s. Mr. Khamenei offered his regrets but pointed out that Mr. Montazeri had strayed from the ideals of the 1979 revolution.

When the message was read to mourners in Qom on Monday, many jumped up and down, booing and screaming “Khamenei is a murderer. His leadership is finished,” according to videos posted to opposition Web sites and to YouTube.

By nightfall, Mr. Montazeri’s house was under siege by security services, his son Ahmad told the BBC’s Farsi-language service. Mr. Montazeri’s family canceled a memorial service planned that evening at a mosque in Qom, according to a statement issued by his son and posted on opposition Web sites.

“We received word that Basij and Revolutionary Guards have entered the mosque and are waiting for us with batons,” Ahmad Montazeri wrote.

Authorities have banned press coverage of the event. Iranian Web sites that posted accounts have reported reliably on protests in the past, and videos posted on YouTube match their accounts.

The BBC’s Persian service, a source of news for many Iranians, was jammed Sunday, knocking it off air inside Iran, the British Broadcasting Corp. said.

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, as well as Mr. Khamenei’s brother, Hadi, who is also a critic of the regime, attended the funeral.

Mr. Mousavi’s Web site, Kalameh, reported that his car came under attack on his return trip to Tehran, and a bodyguard was injured, but Mr. Mousavi was unharmed.

The opposition called for the grand ayatollahs of Qom, Iran’s highest clerical officials, to call for a national day of mourning Tuesday to protest what the opposition called the insulting way the government security forces treated mourners in Qom.

Qom serves as the spiritual capital of Iran’s ruling clerics. A dusty city in the desert plains south of Tehran, it is dotted with turquoise minarets and golden domes, and has been instrumental in shaping Iran’s politics for the past century.

Analysts said Monday’s massive protests in Qom and the presence of high-profile grand ayatollahs in the funeral ceremonies elevated the opposition’s profile, further denting the credibility of Mr. Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Mr. Khamenei’s legitimacy was questioned in Qom today, and that is a significant blow to the regime. It will be extremely hard to recover from this,” said Mohamad Javad Akbarein, a former cleric from Qom and a Shiite scholar now living in Beirut.

Mr. Montazeri was once in line to succeed the founder of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as supreme leader. But he fell out with the regime and became one of its highest-profile critics. In recent months, a protest movement ignited by contested June 12 elections adopted the frail cleric as its spiritual leader.

Opposition leaders, including Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi and their supporters, accused Mr. Ahmadinejad of stealing the June vote, which the government denies. Over months of protests since, demonstrations have veered from protesting the elections and its results to denouncing the regime itself.

See also:
Iranian Mourners Swarm Qom for Montazeri’s Funeral
Report: Large turnout for Iran cleric’s funeral
Protests mark funeral of Hossein Ali Montazeri
Iran’s Ayatollah Montazeri buried in Qom amid protests
Iran: ‘clashes’ at Montazeri funeral
Iran funeral ends with anti-govt slogans -website
Popular dissident Hossein Ali Montazeri mourned in Iran
Iran’s Mousavi In Qom For Cleric’s Funeral – Website
Mousavi Motorcade Attacked Amid Iran Clashes
Some Iranians Arrested on Way to Funeral – Website
YouTube Offers Glimpse of Funeral Scene in Qom
IRAN: Video of dissident cleric’s funeral ceremony
Filling Montazeri’s shoes in Iran
The Conservative Dissident: Hosein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, R.I.P.
Death of a cleric, but not of a movement
Iran: What the death of dissident cleric Montazeri means for opposition
Iran opposition energized by Montazeri funeral in Qom, say eyewitnesses
The Difference One Ayatollah Might Make
The Peoples’ Revolt in Iran

/let’s hope someone in the Obama administration is paying attention, we should be actively supporting the Iranian opposition, it’s a much better option than a military strike