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Iran: Anti-Regime Protests

Opposition supporters demonstrated in Iran on Friday. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad continues to generate headlines.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/6/2010, 5:18 AM / Last Update: 9/6/2010, 5:13 AM

Clashes broke out on Friday between Iranian security forces and anti-government protestors in Tehran, during Iran's annual Qods (Jerusalem) Day.

According to reports, opposition supporters chanted "death to the dictator" and "Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon; I give my life for Iran". They were attacked by paramilitary forces who roamed the streets of the Iranian capital as part of attempts to intimidate the protestors as government organized marches were held.

In Second Square in Teharn’s Sadeqiya district, some 200 protesters chanted “down with the principle of the velayat-e faqih” (absolute clerical rule). They too were attacked by police and paramilitary forces. The crowd continued to chant “death to the dictator” as clashes ensued.

Protests also took place in the north-eastern city of Mashhad on Friday, as dozens of people in the chanted “death to the dictator” and “Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon; I give my life for Iran”.  The crowd dispersed quickly when security forces arrived on the scene.

Reports also said that internet speed in Iran slowed down as early as Thursday evening. No access to email or attachments were available, and sites such as Facebook would not open.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to make headlines. During a visit to Qatar on Sunday, Ahmadinejad said that Israel is “incapable” of attacking Iran, and warned that it indeed attacked his country, it would be destroyed. “Any act against Iran will lead to the eradication of the Zionist entity,” said Ahmadinejad during a joint news conference with Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and added: “The Zionist entity is decaying. It is in a critically difficult state, and hopes to revive itself through an unfruitful dialogue.”

Also on Sunday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressed his concerns about what he called “new dangers” in the Persian Gulf, an allusion to Iran’s nuclear program.

Speaking during a dinner in Cairo to celebrate Ramadan, Mubarak said: “Our celebration comes as our Arab and Muslim world faces difficult times.” He added that the “new dangers that are emerging in the Gulf region and threaten its stability.”

Egypt had cancelled a visit to Cairo by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, which was scheduled for Monday, after he accused Arab leaders who attended last week’s launching of direct talks in Washington of betrayal. Mubarak had been among those in attendance, along with Jordanian King Abdullah.

On Saturday, Palestinian Authority leaders slammed Ahmadinejad following his claims that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not authorized to negotiate with Israel. Ahmadinejad also said: “Who gave them the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian land to the enemy.”

In response, PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said: “He who does not represent the Iranian people, who forged elections and who suppresses the Iranian people and stole authority, is not entitled to talk about Palestine, or the president of Palestine.”