Iran Election Live-Blogging (Thursday June 18)
This is the archive of my Iran election live-blogging from Sunday, June 14. For the latest updates, click here.
11:50 PM ET -- Kissinger backs Obama on Iran.
I think the president has handled this well. Anything that the United States says that puts us totally behind one of the contenders, behind Mousavi, would be a handicap for that person. And I think it's the proper position to take that the people of Iran have to make that decision.
Of course, we have to state our fundamental convictions of freedom of speech, free elections, and I don't see how President Obama could say less than he has, and even that is considered intolerable meddling. He has, after all, carefully stayed away from saying things that seem to support one side or the other. And I think it was the right thing to do because public support for the opposition would only be used by the -- by Ahmadinejad -- if I can ever learn his name properly -- against Mousavi.
11:40 PM ET -- Now Facebook! Just got an email from a PR person:
As people around the world share news and information around the recent Iranian election on Facebook, hundreds of Persian speaking Facebook users have helped to create a Persian language translation of the site.
The language translation is now live, and users with their Internet browsers set to Persian will automatically be directed to the Persian version of Facebook.
From a Facebook blog post that will go up later tonight:
Persian was already in translation before worldwide attention turned to the Iranian elections, but because of the sudden increase in activity we decided to launch it sooner than planned. This means that the translation isn't perfect, but we felt it was important to help more people communicate rather than wait..
If your browser is set to Persian, you should automatically see the Persian version of Facebook. If you'd like to change your language into Persian, go here, or click on the "Settings" link in the upper-right corner of any page and then go to the "Language" tab. You then can select the language you want from the drop-down menu. ...
We could not have made this happen so quickly without the more than 400 Persian speakers who submitted thousands of individual translations of the site. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. If you speak Persian or any language not yet completely translated, you can help as well by using the Translations application
11:30 PM ET -- Secret police at Thursday's rally. The news accounts of the mourning rally all noted the lack of overt military/police presence as we'd seen in prior days. But as one young Iranian man told the Associated Press: "I saw some secret police plainclothes officers among the people, watching and trying to find out what was going to happen, though they weren't doing anything to anyone. One person in the crowd was telling the plainclothes police that this won't last, that protesters will get tired, and we were all laughing at him."
More importantly, really, is what the young man said about himself and his fellow demonstrators:
I've never been politically active before if you mean in terms of an organized way, only in terms of staying informed and being interested in what's going on. I've never been in a protest before.
My reason to participate was first of all, just to be there. ... If I don't go, my space would be empty. I'm just an ordinary guy in Iran, so I felt it was my duty to make changes, step by step, to get a better future.
I used to feel alienated in Iran, like I wasn't part of things, but now I feel like everyone feels the way I do. I used to think it was just me and those around me who are fed up with this government, but now I see a lot of people are fed up with this system. So I think this is the first step toward reaching a full democracy.
11:17 PM ET -- Google's Persian/Farsi-English translation tool is now live.
10:25 PM ET -- Mocking Ahmadinejad. The poster, writing in Farsi, sarcastically says Ahmadinejad is displaying his English fluency:
8:59 PM ET -- Huge news. For the last several days, people have been pressuring Google to make their homepage logo green for a day in a show of solidarity. They've decided to do something far more significant.
Tomorrow, Google will launch a Farsi/English translation service, an ingenious way to help Iranians and English speakers exchange information and aid each other more effectively. Add this to their Iran coverage on Citizen Tube, and their decision to relax standards on graphic videos for the scenes coming out of Iran, and they deserve some serious props.
8:45 PM ET -- They beat and kick helpless women. The caption on this video, via an Iranian-American friend, says it was taken in Rasht, a city in northern Iran by the Caspian Sea. The date is unclear but it was uploaded today. In the middle of the screen, you'll see a young woman pushed, then punched and kicked, by plainclothes Basiji paramilitaries.
The fear this kind of violence creates is immediately clear, as even the person filming the video -- who's in a building several stories above -- backs away from the window and gets lower to the ground so as not to be seen.
8:13 PM ET -- Tomorrow's events. I think I have a better handle on what's going on. It seems as if a) the supposed Mousavi "request" for people not to attend prayers is a hoax, but b) Mousavi has decided to delay a planned Friday rally until Saturday.
8:10 PM ET -- Solidarity. A surprisingly large candlelight vigil, apparently in Montreal.
8:05 PM ET -- Obama's comparison of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, reconsidered. Reader Chas: "When Obama said Mousavi and Ahmadinejad were mostly the same, I think he was gaming everybody. What better way to distance yourself than that."
A reader of Andrew's feels the same way. "From Mousavi's perspective, being mildly put down by Obama shows that he's not a secret puppet of the US government. It lets him show his nationalist credentials. This defuses Supreme Leader Khamenei's main attack on the Islamist reformers."
7:53 PM ET -- Dems to join Republicans in pushing Iran resolution tomorrow. A friend sends over the congressional resolution that was introduced in the House today. No surprise, it is co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Pence, who has been repeatedly attacking President Obama's approach to the crisis. But now we learn that Rep. Howard Berman, a relatively hawkish Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is also on board, ensuring its passage.
Here's an email Berman's office sent out tonight:
Chairman Berman wants all Democratic Members of the Committee to be aware that a resolution he introduced this afternoon with Rep. Pence expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law will be considered on the House floor tomorrow. The text of the resolution is attached. Please let me know if your Member is interested in speaking on the resolution.
Here's the resolution:
Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;
(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and
(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.
Put aside what you feel about President Obama speaking out more forcefully on this matter. The White House is a focused entity. The Congress is anything but, and includes people who like to sing "bomb, bomb Iran." No one who I've heard from thinks it will help things for Congress to try and throw itself into this issue right now, good intentions or not.
6:44 PM ET -- Video surfaces of apparent attack on students. We've heard for several days now of the wave of violence that swept over Tehran University earlier in the week. There has been some video posted of the results of the attacks -- dorm rooms and computers destroyed, students sporting large bruises and cuts.
But now, some footage of the actual moment of an attack -- pure thuggery:
6:20 PM ET -- Mousavi spokesman on Obama. Via reader Heather, Foreign Policy speaks with Mousavi's external spokesman in Paris Mohsen Makhmalbaf:
FP: There has been growing criticism here in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama hasn't said or done enough to support those demonstrating in the streets of Iran. Do you think Obama is being too careful? Or even that he is helping Ahmadinejad by being cautious?
MM: Obama has said that there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Does he like it himself [when someone is] saying that there is no difference between Obama and [George W.] Bush? Ahmadinejad is the Bush of Iran. And Mousavi is the Obama of Iran.
FP: Would Mousavi pursue a different foreign policy than Ahmadinejad?
MM: As you may know, former President Mohammad Khatami, who is supporting Mousavi at the moment, was in favor of dialogue between the civilizations, but Ahmadinejad talks about the war of the civilizations. Is there not any difference between the two?
We [Iranians] are a bit unfortunate. When we had our Obama [meaning President Khatami], that was the time of President Bush in the United States. Now that [the United States] has Obama, we have our Bush here [in Iran]. In order to resolve the problems between the two countries, we should have two Obamas on the two sides. It doesn't mean that everything depends on these two people, but this is one of the main factors.
6:10 PM ET -- Solidarity. Mario Solis Marich, a Colorado-based radio host with a great Hispanic following, writes in, "We are asking our Denver listeners to wear green tomorrow, so far we have a strong response."
And David Abromowitz of the Center for American Progress makes an important point about the relevance of international actions. "Last year when the Pakistani judiciary was under attack, bar associations around the country in short order organized rallies in support among lawyers in dozens of cities. It was noticed in Pakistan by the lawyers protesting in their country." What you do from the United States and elsewhere can make a difference to Iranians on the other side of the world.
5:58 PM ET -- Fishy. This was just posted on Mousavi's official Twitter account. "Mousavi & Karoubi ask supporters NOT to attend Friday prayers (which is being delivered by supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei)." This seems quite unlikely to me, trying to get to the bottom of it.
Update: Patrick Disney from the NIAC says this message was also posted on Mousavi's Facebook page and then removed a little later. Seems like someone outside is trying to cause trouble.
4:50 PM ET -- Shirin Ebadi blogs for HuffPost. It's a real honor. Her post: Iranian Authorities Must Void Elections to Restore Peace on Streets.
3:40 PM ET -- Allah o Akbar! It's just past 11PM in Iran right now, so one can imagine the chorus of chanting that's being sent through the night air. Take a listen, and then read the email I received last night from reader Nicholas.
I cannot in any way claim to know what people are thinking or meaning on the ground, but for centuries, 'Allahu Akbar' has been in the Muslim world a battlefield of meaning and ultimately of political legitimacy. They are five syllables pregnant in meaning, mutability and richness, not simply a ritualistic or fundamentalist dogmatic trope. Nor is 'Allahu Akbar' simply a prayer. In fact, despite all its negative, violent connotations in the West, 'Allahu Akbar' has been uttered by Muslims throughout history as a cry against oppression, against kings and monarchs, against tyrannical and despotic rule, reminding people that in the end, the disposer of affairs and ultimate holder of legitimacy is not any man, not any king or queen, not even any supreme leader, but ultimately a divine force out and above directing, caring and fighting for a more peaceful, rule-based, just and free world for people to live in. God is the one who is greatest, above each and every mortal human being whose station it is to pass away.
The fact that 'Allahu Akbar' is echoing through the Iranian night is not only an indication of the longing of people there to find a peaceful and just solution to this crisis. It also points to how deep the erosion of legitimacy is in whosoever acts against the will of the people, in whosoever claims to act on God's behalf to oppress his fellow human, including in this case some of the 'supreme' Islamic jurists themselves. This all goes to show that Islam, far from being merely an abode of repression and retrogression, has the capacity of being a fundamentally restorative and democratic force in human affairs. In the end, so it seems, at least in the Iranian context, 'Allahu Akbar', God is greatest, is a most profoundly democratic of political slogans. So deep is this call, that what is determined out of this liminal moment may very well set the terms for (or against) a lived, democratic Islamic reality for decades to come.
3:25 PM ET -- Solidarity. In Austin, Texas, from reader Anlo.
3:17 PM ET -- What is going on with Iran's state media? Reader Daryl observes:
I've been following the (semi-official) PressTV website , and it's absolutely fascinating. In the past 24 hours, they have posted several articles that are surprisingly candid, and, one could argue, supportive of Mousavi, such as:
"US values 'free and fair' election in Iran" -- in which it is acknowledged that "Mousavi, who according to the ministry has lost to Ahmadinejad even in the East-Azerbaijan province where he hails from, cried foul and described the election as a 'charade' - an allegation denied by the president and his interior minister, who was in charge of holding the election."
"President slammed for denigrating rivals" -- "A vocal supporter of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has hit out at him for referring those questioning Friday's election results as "flotsam and jetsam."
"In Israel, Mossad head talks about Iran election" In which an amazing statement is made: "Head of Mossad Meir Dagan says that a Mousavi win in Iran's presidential election would have spelled bigger problems for Israel. "
"Iran clerics schedule pro-Mousavi rally"
3:02 PM ET -- Can Obama separate Iran policy from the human rights question? Spencer Ackerman: "I've just conducted a phone interview with Akbar Ganji, one of the leading Iranian dissidents and most prominent voices in the international community for a more liberal Iran. He knows its brutality in a deeply personal way: the regime imprisoned Ganji for five years after he wrote a series of articles exposing its human rights abuses."
It's a very interesting interview, worth reading in full. Most interesting to me is that Ganji's thoughts on President Obama come down right in the middle of a debate that's been waging among Iranians/Iranian-Americans since this all started:
"From my perspective, Obama has so far said he won't meddle in Iran's internal situation, and that's a good, good approach," Ganji said, but he added, "He cannot stay silent on human rights issues." Clearly, Ganji thinks the Obama administration isn't striking the right balance between non-intervention and humanitarian concerns.
Since Sunday, I've been writing about the split between those who want Obama to be prudent and cautious in his statements, and those who want him to use his unique moral authority to speak out on human rights. Ganji's position indicates that perhaps those two views are not in conflict.
2:57 PM ET -- ABC's Jim Sciutto's Twitter Account 'Hijacked.' By "pro Iranian messengers."
2:50 PM ET -- A flood...of email. You folks are pretty incredible. Within 20 minutes of asking for Farsi speakers to contact me with their IM info, I've received almost 100 offers. Amazing. Thank you.
2:44 PM ET -- Not just in Tehran. BBC:
The day of mourning was also observed outside Tehran.
One protester, Ali, took part in a silent sit-in at a shrine in Shiraz, south-western Iran, to remember those killed.
He told the BBC: "There are about two or three thousand people here, all sitting in silence in the big courtyard inside the shrine. Police won't do anything because we are in a holy site."
2:33 PM ET -- Battle in Parliament over dorm attacks by the Basij. Reader YS shared this news story (in Farsi) with us. According to a member of Iran's parliament quoted in the piece, a verbal scuffle -- and then a physical altercation -- broke out yesterday when several MPs questioned why more wasn't being done to stop the attacks by the plainclothes paramilitary Basiji.
YS gives the play-by-play:
Yesterday a couple of the members of the Iranian parliament started asking question regarding the plainclothes security forces who have been beating the protesters in Iran.
Apparently, Abutorabi (Parliament secretary) questioned the connections of the plainclothes security forces who had earlier storm Tehran University's dorms and killed and injured students. Abutorabi claims that those individuals have been identified and says: "Why do plainclothes individuals without permission from the government get to storm the dorms?"
Then Ansari, a member of the parliament took the floor and talked about the "fact finding" committee and the fact that everyone in that comity is an Ahmadinejad supporter and therefore questioned the legitimacy of the committee.
After Ansari, Abutorabi took the floor again and continued questioning the plainclothes security forces once again. At this point Hosseinian, Koochakzadeh, and resaee, the three biggest supporters of Ahmadinejad in the parliament, started a verbal argument which ended with a number of physical fights. As a result a number of pro and anti Ahmadinejad members of the parliament join the fight and start slapping and pushing each other.
In the end, the anti Ahmadinejad block claims that they will expose the identities of those behind the plainclothes security forces.
Keep in mind that the pro and anti Ahmadinejad blocks belong to the same political party! I think the government is starting to crack up from the inside.
2:17 PM ET -- Where the wild things are. From today's rally... "The real face of a lying dictator." (Thanks to Afshin, Sam, and Andy.)
2:14 PM ET -- Digg. If you'd like to support the live blog on Digg, click here.
2:05 PM ET -- Where's Ahmadinejad? Perhaps wishful thinking, but it is getting curious.
Speculation is intensifying about the whereabouts of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who claimed victory in the Iranian presidential election but has not been seen in public since Monday, when he was in Russia for a conference.
Iranian media have reported only that the president was greeted by a number of senior government officials when he arrived home late on Tuesday. [...]
Analysts and diplomats say that the fact that Ahmadinejad has not been seen for three days as street protests and political turmoil rage suggests his position may have been weakened. Rallies backing him have been far less well attended than those organised by the Mousavi camp.
"If he was feeling confident he would be more visible," said Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, of London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. "It would make sense for him to present himself as the president of all Iranians. But he appears to be a bit detached from reality. The way he reacted has seriously damaged his position."
2:00 PM ET -- The moment. "Here is some grainy but fantastic footage of the march to Imam Khomeini square in Tehran, from 5 pm Iranian time."
1:47 PM ET -- Life imitates art. Today's mourning rally passed through Ferdowsi Square in Tehran. Ferdowsi is, as an Iranian-American friend put it, "like the Persian Homer," having written the epic Book of Kings.
Here's a shot from the Square today sent in by an Iranian, of Ferdowski being inducted into the Uprising:
As it turns out, English professor Rich Newman is in the process of translating the Book of Kings, and wrote a moving post about how it ties into the current unrest:
The connection between literature and politics is always a difficult one. Treating politics as if it were literature, politicizing literary texts, are strategies that people use to advance agendas that are fundamentally political, and often not progressive/egalitarian, in nature. Especially in connection with what is going on in Iran right now, when people are really dying and when the Iranian government is doing everything it can to isolate the entire nation of Iran so that it (the government) can restore what it believes should be the (clearly repressive) order of things, to talk about life imitating art, to read what is going on in Iran through the lens of Iran's own literature, has felt to me like a self-indulgent and gratuitous intellectual exercise.
Yet literature, and in this case specifically poetry, also helps people give meaning to their lives; it can inspire, and it can connect us to something larger than ourselves in ways that political feelings, not matter how strongly felt and/or acted upon, often cannot. And so, precisely because people are really dying in Iran--because I really do believe, along with William Carlos Williams, that people die every day for lack of what is found in poetry--and precisely because there is so much at stake over there, and because Iran is a culture that loves and reveres its poets, I have decided to write.
Perhaps connecting the unrest in Iran not only to the specific history of the Islamic Republic and the revolution out of which that republic was born--which most analysts, reasonably, are focusing on--but also to the Iranian culture that is larger and older than both the Republic and Islam, will make a difference. What that difference might be, and to whom, I have no way of knowing, but I just don't think it is mere coincidence that the current unrest finds echoes in a story Iran has been telling itself about itself for centuries: the tale of Kaveh and Zahhak from the poem commonly referred to as Iran's national epic, Shahnameh (Book, or Epic, of the Kings), part of which I am in the process of translating.
1:22 PM ET -- Dubbing videos in Farsi. Reader Adam helpfully points out: "Here's a link to a site (created by some friends of mine) where anybody can subtitle videos. It would be great if you could mention it so people could help subtitle clips for the benefit of people who don't know farsi."
1:18 PM ET -- Still cracking down. "Two children of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a political opponent of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been barred from leaving Iran, the semi-official Fars News Agency said on Thursday. Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh addressed supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi on Tuesday when they gathered near the state television building in Tehran in defiance of a ban on opposition protests."
1:13 PM ET -- "Democracy." From today, via Chas (with translation help from a friend).
1:09 PM ET -- Turning your social networking avatar green. This site does it for you.
12:49 PM ET -- From an Iranian-American. An incredibly thoughtful piece by reader Donny, who takes us through his thought process from election day until now:
Voting in the 2009 Iranian elections was the second election I took part in. In both elections I voted for reformist candidates, believing that they would take the country in a direction I would most like to see. My family as a whole tends to vote for liberal candidates in American politics, but in terms of Iran ideologies we are a diverse group. A devout Muslim, my father voted for Ahmadinejad in both elections believing him to be the candidate most capable of maintaining an Islamic state. My grandmother votes based on her pocketbook, my mother chooses not to vote because she does not live in Iran and therefore feels that her opinions should not influence a country whose policies she is not subject to. [...]
As returns began to trickle in, the reality of what was happening began to dawn on all of us. We had a unique perspective on the unfolding events of last week: with a satellite available to anyone who can spare $150, we watched as IRIB announced the results of the election. I was reading blogs that would soon become my bread and butter, and we were contacting family in Iran who were dumbfounded by such an apparent landslide. We made allegations that Ahmadinejad cheated, but such utterances were only half-hearted--frustrated by the outcome of the vote, those of us who voted for Mousavi sought to console ourselves by ridiculing Ahmadinejad and venturing guesses that he just might have been crazy enough to rig the national election. As hours turned into days, such jokes quickly became a troubling reality. What I feel now, almost a week out, is excitement mixed with a real sense of fear. My cousin, a student at a University in Tehran, has yet to be reached. My father can't get through via telephone and he hasn't responded to my messages via the internet. The same holds true for my Grandmother. Family we have been able to reach say they are not afraid, they avoid going into crowded public spaces and everyone just tries to keep close to home. [...]
And so I support the uprising of frustrated men and women in Iran. I also understand why some are reluctant to act out. The choice is a difficult one; a choice that I count myself fortunate (though somewhat guilt-ridden) for not having to make. All I can do from afar is be an actively engaged citizen and do my best to provide accurate, factual information to others. The confrontation between fear and frustration is what lies within the heart of each and every Iranian at this moment. Fear usually wins; the protests of 1999 and 2003 prove this. When the furor and intensity in the hearts of frustrated men and women run out the fear slowly creeps in and forces these brave individuals back into hiding. As Americans, all we can do to prevent this is to provide the necessary outlets to those who continue the fight in Iran. Like a fire that dies without oxygen, the most damning action to those fighting for freedom in Iran is to deny them our focus and attention. We must retweet, forward, and ask our media outlets to keep Iran in the discussion. They must choose their own fate, all we can do is give them the tools to sound off.
12:41 AM ET -- "The Basij scared and cover their faces." The tide turns:
The Basij have now begun to cover their faces, whereas previously they hadn't. This indicates they are becoming more scared of retaliation from the general public. Also, we have heard that cell phone service is cut off at night. There have been efforts to identify members of the Basij who have used violence against demonstrators, through facebook and other social networking websites.
It's interesting to see some in the feared militias themselves becoming afraid of retaliation.
Via reader Chas, a BBC piece profiling the Basij: "The force was originally set up by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 as a resistance force during the Iran-Iraq war. They received limited training and were used for 'human wave' attacks, for example being asked to clear Iraqi minefields by walking across them."
12:34 PM ET -- Be there. This site purports to have a cell-phone stream (occasionally taken live) of today's rally.
12:28 AM ET -- The opposition ads. Earlier today I posted an opposition video from the Karroubi campaign that Andrew had put up yesterday (I inadvertently attributed it to Mousavi's campaign). Reader Dominik just posted a version with helpful English subtitles added, take a look:
12:19 PM ET -- Outside of Tehran. It's been difficult to get first-hand information out of the smaller cities and towns in Iran, for obvious reasons. But some is trickling through. Reader Nick writes:
One of my friends from college, and Iranian-American whose family is from this town, sent these two links around on his blog and Facebook page.
As he notes, in the video of the June 13th protests, the protestors are chanting 'Azerbaican yatmiyib, Musavini atmiyib,' which translates to 'Azerbaijan is not asleep, it has not abandoned Musavi'... Presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Musavi is himself and ethnic Azerbaijani Turk."
These are allegedly from the Iranian city of Urmia. The first shows a crowd chanting, the second shows riot police beating a man.
12:16 PM ET -- Photos. Many thanks to the Iranian, and his Iranian-American friend, who passed along photos from today's events, which are now posted in our slideshow. Please do send more if you have them.
12:12 PM ET -- "Moderately strong support for fraud." Andrew: "One of the most respected statisticians and political scientists around, Walter Mebane, has updated his assessment of the declared 'election' results in Iran. The closer you look, the worse it gets." Juan Cole posts on this also.
12:00 PM ET -- Khamenei to deliver speech at Tehran University? CNN: "Iran's supreme leader will deliver a sermon Friday at Tehran University, just days after a bloody crackdown at the school, according to a statement from the pro-government Basij militia." Via reader Chas, who adds, "He's cracking."
It may well be a response to the increasing pressure from elite quarters to stop the violence against demonstrators. The Post noted that, again today, Mousavi and former president Mohammad Khatami "sent a letter to the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, urging his help for the protesters."
"Men and women are beaten up and injured, buildings are wrecked and things happen that are not in any way compatible with the Islamic Republic and will have no effect but to create cynicism in society against the system," they wrote, according to a posting on the Tabnak Web site, which is affiliated with Moshen Rezai, one of the other presidential candidates. "We urge you to stand by your legal and religious duty and your sense of responsibility toward the civil rights of people and to spare no efforts to end the current worrying and provocative situation, stop violent action against people and release the arrested [activists]."
11:56 AM ET -- The Mousavi video. I mentioned earlier that the Mousavi camp was hoping to have a video dubbed into English. But it's powerful enough even if you can't understand the audio. (Note -- a Farsi speaker is working on a translation now. If you have the technical ability to overlay the translation on the video, let me know, and I'll connect the two of you.)
Here it is:
11:50 AM ET -- Ansar-e Hezbollah planned motorcycle rally. From the Washington Post: "In addition, members of a the group Ansar-e Hezbollah, known for its attacks on people who criticize Iran's supreme leader, announced plans for a motorcycle parade Thursday on Tehran's main thoroughfare, Vali-e Asr Street, to promote calm in Iranian society, the semi-official state Fars news agency reported. It was not immediately clear if the motorcycle demonstration would come in contact with the opposition march, but there were concerns about possible violence with the marches."
Has anyone seen accounts of this counter-rally?
11:48 AM ET -- The meaning of mourning. Juan Cole provides some context:
Mourning the martyr is as central to Iranian Shiite religious culture as it was to strains of medieval Catholicism in Europe, and Mousavi's camp is tapping into a powerful set of images and myths here. The archetypal Shiite martyr is Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who championed oppressed Muslims in Iraq and was cut down by the then Umayyad Muslim Empire. Recognition that a Muslim state might commit the ultimate in sacrilege by beheading a person who had been dangled on the Prophet's knee has imbued modern political Shiism with a distrust of the state. When Husayn's head was brought to the Umayyad caliph Yazid and deposited before his throne, older companions of the Prophet are said to have wept and remarked, "I saw the Prophet's lips on those cheeks." Shiites ritually march, flagellate, and chant in honor of the martyred Imam or divinely-appointed leader.
... The repertoires of protest the reformists are using echo those of the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution-- they are chanting "God is Great," mourning pious fallen martyrs, etc.-- another sign that this movement is not just alienated secularized elites.
11:42 AM ET -- New photos. We just got a great batch from an Iranian, including one of Mousavi at the rally. We're uploading them as I type to the gallery on the front page.
11:34 AM ET -- Playing the terror card. Via reader Chas:
Iran's Intelligence Ministry said on Thursday it had uncovered a foreign-linked terrorist plot to plant bombs in mosques and other crowded places in Tehran during the country's June 12 presidential election.
State broadcaster IRIB quoted a ministry statement as saying several terrorist groups had been discovered, adding they were linked to Iran's foreign enemies, including Israel.
"Members of one of the uncovered networks were planning to plant bombs on election day at various crowded Tehran spots, including Ershad and Al-Nabi mosques," the statement said, referring to two prominent mosques in the capital.
11:28 AM ET -- Candlelight vigil tonight. Mousavi calls for one, reports NBC's Ali Arouzi (via The Lede):
11:20 AM ET -- "Then the Iranian Internet stopped." Via reader Chas, on the Arbor Network Security blog, Craig Labovitz writes:
In normal times, DCI carries roughly 5 Gbps of traffic (with a reported capacity of 12 Gbps) through 6 upstream regional and global Internet providers. For the region, this represents an average level of Internet infrastructure (for purposes of perspective, a mid size ISP in Michigan carries roughly the same level of traffic).
Then the Iranian Internet stopped.
One the day after the elections on June 13th at 1:30pm GMT (9:30am EDT and 6:00pm Tehran / IRDT), Iran dropped off the Internet. All six regional and global providers connecting Iran to the rest of the world saw a near complete loss of traffic.
He includes the image, and echoes a point about the risk of a backlash that I wrote about earlier: "Unlike Burma, Iran has significant commercial and technological relationships with the rest of the world. In other words, the government cannot turn off the Internet without impacting business and perhaps generating further social unrest. In all, this represents a delicate balance for the Iranian government and a test case for the Internet to impact democratic change."
11:05 AM ET -- Mousavi speaks at the mourning rally. A reliable Iranian on Twitter types up some of the highlights on the fly, via reader Ian:
Â· I have come due to concerns of current political and social conditions - to defend the rights of the nation
Â· I have come to improve Irans International relations
Â· I have come to tell the world and return to Iran our pride, our dignity, our future
Â· I have come to bring to Iran a FUTURE of FREEDOM, of HOPE, of fulfilment
Â· I have come to represent the poor the helpless the hungry
Â· I have come to be ACCOUNTABLE to you my people and to this world
Â· Iran must participate in FAIR elections, it is a matter of national importance
Â· I have come to you because of the corruption in Iran
Â· 25% inflation means IGNORANCE - THIEVING - CORRUPTION - where is the wealth of my nation?
Â· What have you done with $300 BILLION in last 4 years - where is the wealth of the nation?
Â· The next Gov of Iran will be chosen by the people
Â· Why do all our young want to leave this country?
Â· I know of no creation who places HIMSELF ahead of 20 million of the nation
Â· We are Muslims - what is happening in Iran Government is a sin
Â· This Gov is not what Imam Khomeini wanted for Iran - #Irane lection I will change all this - This is the SEA of GREEN
Reader Alex translates a tweet from Farsi: "no plainclothes men surrounding protesters today."
10:51 AM ET -- Mourning the dead. People are holding up this photo of one of the young men killed in previous protests:
And here's a gallery of images from yesterday's events, lots of compelling shots of individual demonstrators:
10:44 AM ET -- Silenced. "The news website IranMania has decided to stop publishing political news, over concerns for the safety of its staff. In a letter to readers it says: 'For the past few days, it has become virtually impossible to provide independent news from official sources, we have therefore taken the decision to stop the reporting all political news stories. We are sure that you appreciate that our primary concern is the safety of our staff.'"
10:35 AM ET -- A word of caution. This DailyKos diary, now featured in the "recommended" section, reports that a man in Ohio who has been helping Iranians on Twitter had his personal information leaked, and then was harassed by three men shouting anti-Mousavi slogans as he walked to his university.
We heard the same rumors yesterday, and my colleague Sam Stein tried to figure out what happened. The Ohio college that the man told us he attended said they had no record of him as a student. And after saying he had called 911 to report the incident, the man gave a reason for why he thought that the police wouldn't end up having a record of the 911 call.
It's certainly possible that this attack occurred, which would obviously be unfortunate and disturbing. But more confirmation is definitely needed.
10:32 AM ET -- A million?
The numbers at today's rally are hard to gauge, but our correspondent Saeed Kamali Dehghan, reckons there could be as many as one million people there. ...
He said the demonstration is bigger than Monday's rally. Many are wearing black and carrying photos of those who died. Some are carry placards calling for a new election not a recount. The shops on the route are closed in support of the rally, he added.
There's audio of the correspondent's report by phone at the link.
10:28 AM ET -- Cracks in the foundation. "Iran clerics schedule pro-Mousavi rally." Published in the state-run Press TV no less.
10:24 AM ET -- National Iranian American Council. It has been an invaluable source of news and analysis through this crisis, and it held an event yesterday in Washington DC. My colleague Stuart Whatley attended and wrote it up.
10:21 AM ET -- Just what Ahmadinejad wanted. Via Adam Blickstein.
Thursday, June 18th, 2009
House Radio/TV Gallery, H-321, The Capitol
[L]ike many founding figures of the revolution, he has come to believe that the incendiary radicalism of the revolution's early days must be tempered in an era of peace and state-building, those who know him say. Some have seen a symbolic meaning in his decision to make Monday's vast demonstration in Tehran a march from Enghelab (revolution) Square to Azadi (freedom) Square.
"He is a hybrid child of the revolution," said Shahram Kholdi, a lecturer at the University of Manchester who has written about Mr. Moussavi's political evolution. "He is committed to Islamic principles but has liberal aspirations." [...]
Although he is deeply religious, Mr. Moussavi (the name is also often rendered in English as Mir Hossein Mousavi) appears to hold relatively liberal social views. His wife is a well-known professor of political science who has campaigned alongside him, often giving speeches and news conferences independently. When they were younger, he was sometimes introduced as "the husband of Zahra Rahnavard." His wife promised that if he was elected, he would advance women's rights and appoint "at least two or three women" to the cabinet.
His oldest daughter is a nuclear physicist. The youngest prefers not to wear the Islamic chador, and her parents do not mind, the relative said. "There has never been any compulsion in the family," the relative added.
In recent years, Mr. Moussavi was deeply dismayed by the excesses of the morality police and by the government's decisions to shut down newspapers, his relative said.
9:56 AM ET -- Defiance. A post-script from yesterday's brave action by Iranian soccer members, who sported green armbands in solidarity before being asked to remove them for the second half. That is, except for the team captain, Mehdi Mahdavikia, who "kept his band on even during the second half." Brave man.
9:46 AM ET -- Fresh video. Via reader Alex, several more here. Just look at the diversity in the crowd. (Note: I originally thought these were from Thursday, but they are indeed from Wednesday.)
9:40 AM ET -- Mousavi camp makes a translation request. Mousavi's spokesperson on Facebook has made a personal appeal asking for a version of this video to be produced with English subtitles. If you come across one (or produce it yourself), let me know.
9:37 AM ET -- Another rally Saturday. They aren't letting up. "The Etemad Melli (National Confidence) party of defeated reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi has applied for permission to hold a a new protest rally on Saturday."
On day prior, as we've know for a few days, Khamenei is due to lead the main weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran in a rare scene. AFP adds today that the prayers will be "in the presence of the Basij."
9:14 AM ET -- Guardian Council to hear election complaints. The Guardian reports:
Iran's rulers today offered a fresh concession to opposition protesters angry at the official results of presidential elections by inviting candidates to present their allegations of vote-rigging at a formal session.
The powerful guardian council has convened an extraordinary session for Saturday and invited the three candidates who were, according to official results, defeated by the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The New York Times calls it "the first public indication that the authorities were prepared for some form of dialogue to defuse the outrage over the election results, Iran's worst political crisis since the 1979 revolution."
The Council's spokesman said "they received a total of 646 complaints from the three candidates who ran against Ahmadinejad in the June 12 vote." Any apparent recount decisions will be made by Sunday, according to AFP.
Also on Thursday, "Mousavi's Web site said that both Mousavi and former reformist President Mohammad Khatami sent a joint letter to Iran's head of judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, asking him to take measures to stop violence against protesters by police and help to release detained demonstrators."
9:04 AM ET -- The mourning rallies begin.
Thousands of supporters of Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi held a new protest rally in Tehran on Thursday, keeping up the pressure on the Islamic regime over the disputed vote, witnesses told AFP.
Chanting "Peace be upon (Prophet) Mohammed and his family", the protesters marched in southern Tehran and were expected to be joined by Mousavi, the witnesses said.
The rally was also to mourn demonstrators slain in clashes during six days of protests -- banned by the authorities. Foreign journalists are also barred from attending the rallies or other events without express authority.
1:56 AM ET -- Gruesome details from the Tehran University attacks emerge. The Wall Street Journal continues its stellar coverage:
At the same time, Iran's Interior Ministry ordered a probe into an attack late Sunday night on Tehran University students in a dormitory reported to have left several students dead and many more injured or arrested. Students say it was carried out by Islamic militia and police. Iran's English-language Press TV said the ministry urged Tehran's governor's office to identify those involved. Iran's influential speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, condemned the attack.
Students' Web sites reported mass resignations by Tehran University professors outraged over the incident. One medical student said he and his roommate blocked their door with furniture and hid in the closet when they heard the militia's motorcycles approaching. He heard the militia breaking down doors, and then screams of anguish as students were dragged from their beds and beaten violently.
When he came out after the militia had left, friends and classmates lay unconscious in dorm rooms and hallways, many with chest wounds from being stabbed or bloody faces from blows to their heads, he said. The staff of the hospital where the wounded students were taken, Hazrat Rasoul Hospital, was so shocked that they went on strike for two hours, standing silently outside the gate in their white medical uniforms.
1:28 AM ET -- The mourning rally. Thursday is gearing up to be a hugely significant day for the Green Uprising. Reza Aslan appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show tonight, and laid out the importance of what is going to happen:
What's really fascinating about what's happening right now in 2009 is that it looks a lot like what was happening in 1979. And there's a very simple reason for that. The same people are in charge -- I mean, Mousavi, Rafsanjani, Khatami, Medhi Karroubi, the other reformist candidate -- these were all the original revolutionaries who brought down the Shah to begin with, so they know how to do this right.
And so what you're going to see tomorrow is something that was pulled exactly out of the playbook of 1979, which is that you have these massive mourning rallies, where you mourn the deaths of those who were martyred in the cause of freedom. And these things tend to get a little bit out of control, they often result in even more violence by the security forces and even more deaths, which then requires another mourning rally which is even larger, which then requires more violence from the government, and this just becomes an ongoing snowball that can't be stopped.
That's how the Shah was removed from power, was these mourning ceremonies. And so Mousavi very smartly calling for an official -- not a rally -- but an official day of mourning tomorrow. I think we're going to see crowds that we haven't even begun to see yet, and then follow that, on Friday, which is sort of the Muslim sabbath, the day of prayer, which is a traditionally a day of gathering anyway. This is just beginning, Rachel, this is just the beginning.
12:52 AM ET -- The government's vandals. From reader Keivan.
12:49 AM ET -- Life (and exams) roll on. A very prolific Iranian on Twitter finishes his night of dispatches with a message at 4AM or so Tehran time: "less than 3 hours until exam, Shayan said we should give it a try. I'm going to sleep a little."
12:45 AM ET -- Cracks in the foundation. "Perhaps more perilous for authorities is the possibility that some soldiers, security officials and Revolutionary Guardsmen might refuse orders to fire on protesters, creating a dangerous rift within the security apparatuses. 'I would never do it,' said Hossein, a 23-year-old member of the security forces who said he and many of his friends at the military base where he serves supported the marchers. 'Maybe someone would, but I would never fire on any of these people myself.'"
12:42 AM ET -- The comedy of propaganda. The LA Times makes a great catch:
On Wednesday, a newscaster on state-controlled television slyly updated Ahmadinejad's comparison of Mousavi supporters to sore losers leaving a soccer game with a reference to a widely watched international match Wednesday between Iran and South Korea.
The game itself helped illustrate how widespread Mousavi's support has become. A number of players wore green ribbons around their wrists.
However, the newscaster cited a different lesson from the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw. "During the game today between Iran and South Korea it doesn't matter which player scores a goal, so long as Iran wins," he said.
12:10 AM ET -- YouTube gets it.
YouTube said it had relaxed its usual restrictions on violent videos to allow the images from Iran to reach the rest of the world.
"In general, we do not allow graphic or gratuitous violence on YouTube," the company said in a statement. "However, we make exceptions for videos that have educational, documentary, or scientific value. The limitations being placed on mainstream media reporting from within Iran make it even more important that citizens in Iran be able to use YouTube to capture their experiences for the world to see."
YouTube is one of the last broadcasters standing in Iran. The Iranian government knows it (the censors have been able to cut YouTube traffic in Iran by 90 percent) -- and so do the folks at YouTube. Just check out their