Iran headed for Ashura revolution?

In a fourth consecutive day of protests during the Ashura holy period in Iran, police fired teargas Dec. 28 to disperse supporters of reformist leader Mirhossein Mousavi who gathered in Tehran to express their condolences over his nephew’s death in an anti-government rally. Iranian authorities say the death toll in the past 48 hours stands at eight, with some 60 injured. (Reuters, Dec. 28)

Iranian opposition groups say authorities have arrested at least five prominent leaders of the protest movement. Opposition Web sites say three advisers to Mousavi were detained Dec. 28, including his top aide, Alireza Beheshti. They say authorities also arrested human rights campaigner Emad Baghi and opposition activist Ebrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister in Iran’s first post-Revolution government. (VOA, Dec. 28)

On the night of Dec. 26, members of the Basij militia armed with chains, batons and pepper spray broke into Tehran’s Jamaran mosque, where reformist former President Mohammad Khatami was speaking, forcing him to break off before concluding his remarks.

Among the slogans chanted in the new protests is “This is the month of blood, Yazid will fall”—equating Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei with Yazid, the tyrant whose forces killed Imam Hussein, successor to the Prophet Mohammed, in the 680 CE Battle of Karbala that Ashura commemorates. (NYT, Dec. 27)

In an interview with Der SpieGgel, dissident Ayatollah Mohsen Kadivar, currently a visiting research professor at Duke University, said “I am convinced that the regime will collapse’ (ABC News, Dec. 28)

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  1. Pro-government rallies across Iran
    Tens of thousands of government supporters rallied in Iranian cities Dec. 29, with calls for the punishment of opposition leaders for fomenting unrest. At least 20 opposition figures have been arrested since the weekend’s street clashes, including three senior advisers to Mirhossein Mousavi, his brother-in-law and a sister of Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. (Arab Times, Dec. 29)