Police disperse Iranian protesters with tear gas

Clashes between Iranian police and tens of thousands of protesters wracked central Tehran today with security forces beating and firing tear gas at opposition supporters looking to evoke Egypt's recent popular uprising.





The opposition called for a demonstration today in solidarity with Egypt's popular revolt that a few days earlier forced the president there to resign after nearly 30 years in office. The rally is the first major show of strength for Iran's cowed opposition in more than a year.



Police used tear gas against the protesters in central Tehran's Enghelab square and in Imam Hossein square, as well as in other nearby main streets. Demonstrators responded by setting rubbish bins on fire to protect themselves from the stinging white clouds.



"We support you Mousavi," some of the demonstrators chanted, referring to a prominent opposition leader. "An Iranian dies but doesn't accept humiliation" and "Death to the dictator," they said, referring to hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.



Security forces on motorcycles could also be seen chasing protesters through the streets, according to eyewitnesses.



Foreign media are banned from covering street protests in Iran.



Following the announcements by the opposition that they would attempt to hold a new rally in soldarity with the Egypt uprising, Iran's security forces cut phone lines and blockaded the home of an opposition leader in attempts to stop him attending the planned rally.



Police and militiamen poured onto the streets of Tehran to challenge the marches, which officials worry could turn into demonstrations against Iran's ruling system.



The security clampdown is reminiscent of the backlash that crushed a wave of massive protests after Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June 2009. But opposition supporters revived a tactic from the unrest, shouting "Allahu Akbar," or God is Great, from rooftops and balconies into the early hours Monday in a sign of defiance toward Iran's leadership.



The reformist website kaleme.com said police stationed several cars in front of the home of Mir Hossein Mousavi ahead of the demonstration called for today in central Tehran.



Mousavi and fellow opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi have been under house arrest since last week after they asked the government for permission to hold a rally on February 14 in support of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.



On Sunday, the opposition renewed its call to supporters to rally, and accused the government of hypocrisy by voicing support for the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings while refusing to allow Iranian political activists to stage a peaceful demonstration.



"These elements are fully aware of the illegality of their demand and know that they won't get permission for revolt," Interior Ministry official Mahdi Alikhani was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying late Sunday.



Esmaeil Gerami Moghaddam, spokesman for Karroubi's National Confidence Party, countered on the party's website that under Iran's constitution there is no need for government permission to hold a peaceful rally.



Across central Tehran, riot police, many on motorbikes, fanned out to prevent any demonstration, witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears of reprisals from authorities.



The uprising in Egypt opened a rare chance for the political gambit by Iran's opposition.



Ahmadinejad claimed the Egyptians who toppled President Hosni Mubarak took inspiration from Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought down a Western-backed monarchy. Iran's opposition movement used the comments to push the government into a corner and request permission to march in support of Egypt's protesters.



Iranian officials quickly backpedaled and said no pro-Egypt rallies were allowed — bringing sharp criticism from the White House and others.



On Thursday, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor said: "For all of its empty talk about Egypt, the government of Iran should allow the Iranian people the same universal right to peacefully assemble and demonstrate in Tehran that the people are exercising in Cairo."



Karroubi and Mousavi have compared the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia with their own postelection protest movement. Mousavi said Iran's demonstrations were the starting point but that all the uprisings aimed at ending the "oppression of the rulers."



Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who is on a visit to Iran, urged governments in the Middle East to listen to the demands of their people.



"When leaders and heads of countries do not pay attention to the demands of their nations, the people themselves take action to achieve their demands," IRNA quoted Gul as saying Monday.



Hundreds of thousands of Iranians peacefully took to the streets in support of Mousavi after the June 2009 vote, claiming Ahmadinejad was re-elected through massive vote fraud.



A heavy government crackdown suppressed the protests. The opposition has not been able to hold a major protest since December 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power