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Friday, July 17, 2009
Eyewitness accounts from Tehran

According to an Iranian man in his 30s:


I was at the main entrance to Tehran University (the landmark gateway on Enqelab) at 10 a.m. It was already packed as people had come even earlier than us. I didn’t want to go inside because that entails a full body search and check-in of bags and cellphones.

The loudspeakers aired nohe-khani (a form of religious mourning song) for half an hour as today was the death anniversary of Mousa bin Jafar (the 7th Shiite Imam). During that time, the crowd was in constant flux, circulating to keep the security forces from moving to disperse us. Green wristbands and Vs were ubiquitous as usual. Slogans were bold and we chanted with impunity.

About ten minutes before Rafsanjani’s sermon was due to start, teargas was shot into our midst. We dispersed but gathered again as soon as the fumes cleared up. To our surprise, they didn’t shoot tear gas a second time. Generally, it seemed the police wanted to avoid clashing with us, perhaps because of our highly-visible location — or because of our numbers and our vehemence!

I left by 3:30 after the prayers. I saw no violence, but my friend heard gunshots on Valiasr Avenue on his way home at that hour.



A professor in his 60s tells what he saw:


I was outside the east gate of Tehran University on Qods St. (former Anatole France St.) at 11:30 am.

The crowd, amassed in all directions as far as the eye could see, was so thick and compact that security forces could do nothing but stand by passively on the sidelines. They were so docile that the crowd thanked them by chanting: “Police Forces, thank you!”

Unhindered, the crowd chanted an entire repertoire of slogans, including:

“Down with this people-fooling government!” (Marg bar in dolat-e mardom-farib)
“Coup d’etat government, step down!” (Dolat-e kudeta, estefa, estefa!)
“As long as it’s Ahmadinejad, every day shall be thus!” (Ta Ahmadinejad-e, har rooz hamin basat-e!)
“Die Mojtaba, before you see the Leadership!” (Mojtaba bemiri, rahbari o nabini!) [in reference to Mojtaba Khamenei, the supreme leader's son]
“We are not chaff — we are the nation!” (Ma khashak nistim, mellat hastim!) [in ref. to Ahmadinejad labeling protesters 'chaff']
“Political prisoners must be freed!” (Zendani siasi, azad bayad gardad!)

Before Rafsanjani began his sermon, a chant addressed to him warned:

“If you maintain silence, you commit treason!” (Agar sokut koni, khaeni!)

During the overture speech to Rafsanjani’s sermon made by Friday Prayer organiser Reza Taghavi, whenever Taghavi spoke praisingly of Khamenei (e.g., “The Supreme Leader upholds the law”), the crowd outside erupted in boos and chanted:

“Death to Liars!” (Marg bar dorugh-goo!)

A dozen or so people seated near the gate tried a few times to counter with pro-Khamenei slogans: “Until there’s blood in our veins, Khamenei’s our Leader!” (Ta rag dar khun-e mast, Khamenei rahbar-e mast!) but they were drowned out by a several-thousand-strong roar of “Get lost!” boos.

They carried placards depicting Mousavi as well as photographs of Sohrab and Neda. Hand-written signs of “Death to Russia!” were also seen (a new slogan slamming Russian support for Ahmadinejad). Another first was that there was a number of shahrestanis (people from provincial towns) among the crowd. One told me, “If it weren’t for you Tehranis, the game would be lost!”




More information at Tehran Bureau.

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posted at 12:37 PM

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