Despite Ali Khamenei’s attempt to silence dissent by appointing his son as head of the Basij, Iranians have defied the Supreme Leader and marched into the streets to denounce Khamenei. Shouting “Marg bar diktator!” (“Death to the dictator!”), protesters faced off against the regime’s security forces, dispersing and reorganizing each time:
Hundreds of young men and women chanted “death to the dictator,” confronting police wielding batons and firing tear gas in the capital Thursday as opposition activists sought to revive street protests despite authorities’ vows to “smash” any new marches.
For days, supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have been calling for new protests in Tehran and other cities on Thursday, their first significant attempt to get back on the streets since security forces crushed massive demonstrations nearly two weeks ago in Iran’s postelection turmoil.
Tehran governor Morteza Tamaddon warned that any new march Thursday would meet the same fate.
“If some individuals plan to carry out any anti-security actions by listening to calls by counterrevolutionary networks, they will be smashed under the feet of our aware people,” he said, according to the state news agency IRNA in a report late Wednesday.
The Iranians reacted as they did earlier, by cutting off cell phone service throughout the country. Tehran seems to have learned that Twitter and texting has become too easy to use to get information to protest organizers, as well as out from the protests. They had already disabled text messaging prior to today, anticipating its ability to allow for clandestine organization of the protests.
Mirhossein Mousavi has claimed that he will continue the protests, but within the law rather than using non-cooperation as a protest technique. It’s unclear whether Mousavi organized this effort, the first in almost two weeks, or whether the movement has moved beyond Mousavi. What was made clear today was that the regime has not yet succeeded in intimidating its populace, even after all but declaring Iran a police state this month.