Fierce unrests in Iran: Tear gas and batons in Esfahan

2009/12/23

Published in German daily “Tageszeitung” (TAZ) on December 23 2009
Source (German): http://www.taz.de/1/politik/asien/artikel/1/traenengas-und-knueppel-in-isfahan/
Several people were injured and arrested in violent clashes of opposition supporters with security forces. BY BAHMAN NIRUMAND

Khaju bridge in Esfahan. Photo: Hamed Saber – Licence: CC-BY

BERLIN taz | In the central Iranian city of Esfahan, severe clashes of opposition supporters and security forces took place on Wednesday on occasion of a ban imposed on a mourning ceremony for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who had died on Sunday. The ceremony had been announced by Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, who, like Montazeri, is one of the prominent clerical critics of the rulers in Iran.

Law enforcement forces and basij-militias had sealed the entrances of the mosque and blocked the surrounding streets in the early morning hours. When thousands of believers attempted to break through the barriers, violent clashes with the security forces started. “Down with dictatorship”, “Montazeri is alive” were slogans chanted by supporters of the opposition “Green movement of hope”. The police used tear gas and batons, several people were injured and arrested.

Several opposition websites reported that the residence of Ayatollah Youssef Sane’i, who is also a critic of the regime and is regarded as Montazeri’s successor, had been attacked by militias on Tuesday. The cleric was insulted and affronted, his employees were beaten. Windows were broken, and the house was devastated. As reported by Montazeri’s eldest son Ahmad, his father’s residence was also attacked.

The way the regime confronts Grand Ayatollahs, the ban of mourning ceremonies, and the closure of the Mosque in Esfahan cast even more doubts on the leadership’s legitimacy claim. In addition, the regime is obviously no longer capable of controling the countywide unrest.

As reported from pro-government circles, security forces have gone on alert. Soldiers of the Revolutionary Guards and militias of the basij organization are under curfew. Apparently, the regime is preparing for serious clashes on 26. and 27. December. Ashura und Tassoa are primary days of mourning in the Shiite Islam.

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