Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Dec. 27 – Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied in Tehran and other major cities on Sunday against the ruling theocracy, leading to deadly clashes with state security forces and at least 9 deaths.
Tehran, Iran, Dec. 27 – Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied in Tehran and other major cities on Sunday against the ruling theocracy, leading to deadly clashes with state security forces and at least 9 deaths.
Protests began in the early hours of the day and continued through the night on Sunday, which marked the Shiite Islamic commemorative day of Ashura in the holy month of Muharram.
Hundreds of protestors were arrested and at least five killed by authorities in the capital alone, including three who were gunned down at the site of one protest near Tehran's College Intersection. A fourth man was killed in Vali-Asr Street. State television put the number of detainees at 300 but opposition groups said that the true figure was considerably higher. Many were arrested for attempting to film the skirmishes on their mobile phones.
Numerous police motorbikes, government buildings and large waste bins were torched in Tehran.
In the early afternoon, a large group of protestors in Tehran chanted: "Muharam is the month of bloodshed – Khamenei will be overthrown".
There were heavy clashes in the capital's Vali-Asr Square, and security forces opened fire on protestors. Tear gas and pepper spray were also used to disperse the protestors.
A large crowd chanted "down with the dictator" in Imam Hossein Square in Tehran, and skirmishes subsequently broke out between the protestors and security forces.
Security forces attacked protestors in the Pol-e Choubi district of Tehran. Protesters hurled stones to fight back police.
Anti-government chants could be heard in Vesal-Shirazi and Nawab streets and Hor Square.
Another protest erupted in Keshavarz Boulevard, where protestors chanted “down with the dictator”.
Other protests took place in numerous other key cities including Isfahan, Ahwaz, Shiraz, and Shar-e-Kurd.
In central Tehran there were chants of “Khamenei is a murderer – his rule is illegitimate” and “Down with the principle of Velayat-e Faqih”. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has increasingly come under attack by protesters across the country who say he is responsible for running a theocratic dictatorship.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, who heads the opposition coalition NCRI, said Sunday's protests were a "clear signal of the inevitable and imminent downfall of the despicable clerical regime".
Iranian state television meanwhile blamed the opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq for fomenting unrest in the protests in Tehran.