The political divisions driven by Iran’s disputed June presidential elections acquired high visibility again as supporters and detractors of the establishment took to the streets in Tehran on Wednesday.
A day which marked the thirtieth anniversary of the takeover of the American embassy by students saw thousands of government supporters carrying placards and shouting anti-U.S. and anti-Israel slogans converging for a rally near the former U.S. embassy. At the official rally, law-maker Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel said: “The Americans are scared of religious democracy in our country more than anything else. This is because Iran’s religious democracy could turn into a role model for other countries.”
Mr. Haddad-Adel blamed Washington for sowing doubts about the presidential elections and accused it of inciting protests. “Over the past 10 months, Mr. [Barack] Obama, who has taken over with his slogan of change, has tried to change his tone,” he said. “We believe that true change would take place on a day when the Americans, Mr. Obama and the White House change their approach and behaviour towards nations, democracy and justice in other countries.”
However, elsewhere, anti-government protesters clashed vigorously with police. At Haft-e-Tir, a prominent Tehran square, police reportedly used tear gas to disperse a large crowd.
At Vali Asr Square, the crowds which were subjected to tear gas chanted “Russia is den of spies”, inverting the official slogan which said the former U.S. embassy compound was a “den of espionage”.
Russia is a major Iranian ally. Reformist news websites claimed that college students in the capital defied security forces posted at the gates and joined the protests.