This is the archive of my Iran election live-blogging from Friday, June 19. For the latest updates, click here.
4:48 PM ET -- "All those close to Mousavi have been arrested." Via Jeremy, Mousavi's international spokesman Mohsen Makhmalbaf writes for the UK Guardian:
I have been given the responsibility of telling the world what is happening in Iran. The office of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who the Iranian people truly want as their leader, has asked me to do so. They have asked me to tell how Mousavi's headquarters was wrecked by plainclothes police officers. To tell how the commanders of the revolutionary guard ordered him to stay silent. To urge people to take to the streets because Mousavi could not do so directly.
All those close to Mousavi have been arrested, and his contact with the outside world has been restricted. People rely on word of mouth, because their mobile phones and the internet have been closed down. That they continue to gather shows they want something more than an election. They want freedom, and if they are not granted it we will be faced with another revolution.
Thirty years ago we supported each other. When police used tear gas, fires would be lit to neutralise its effects. People would set their own cars on fire to save others. Since then, the government has tried to separate people from one other. What we lost was our togetherness, and in the past month we have found that again. All the armed forces in Iran are only enough to repress one city, not the whole country. The people are like drops of water coming together in a sea.
4:26 PM ET -- Rep. Howard Berman calls. My cell phone rang this afternoon and, unexpectedly, it was the office of the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Howard Berman, who cosponsored the Iran resolution that passed today.
Berman made three points that I thought were important to note:
1) He said he was completely supportive of the way President Obama has handled the Iran crisis, and that his resolution was in no way meant to undermine the White House or pressure it to act any differently. "I think the president is setting exactly the right tone on several different levels," he said.
2) I asked if he had talked to anyone in Iran or who knew the thinking of Mousavi's camp about whether they actually wanted this resolution. He said, "I reached out to a number of people, progressives, in the Iranian-American community and among academics, and people who, like me, support the administration's policy toward Iran." In the context of what this resolution said -- i.e., no mention of terrorism or the nuclear issue or fraud or Mousavi -- "they thought it was a good idea," he said.
3) I asked if he foresaw any additional congressional actions on Iran. He said no. "We have said what we've said. And my view now is the principle of 'do no harm.' Stay out of this."
4:22 PM ET -- U.S. Senate joins the House in passing Iran resolution. I haven't seen the vote count yet but it may have been a unanimous voice vote.
Update: Yes, it was a voice vote.
"I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I'm listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It's worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I'm two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow's children..."
4:10 PM ET -- A letter from Tehran. An Iranian-American friend translates a letter from a 30-year-old female architect in Iran, written yesterday.
The events of the last couple of days have been so moving that I haven't be able to digest it all yet. Life was already fast and hectic enough in Tehran where we wouldn't have time to get to everything, now after 3 PM everything comes to a halt and based on a collective agreement, we all leave our houses or daily routines and head towards downtown without any transportation! Believe me that every day we leave the house, we are not sure if we will make it back. Some of us like me and my family and our close friends who are among the crowd every day worry even more and each night after the rally we keep calling each other to make sure everyone is back home safe and sound. During the rallies we see such variety of bitter and sweet incidents that it gives us material to think about for months to come. We come across small kids, men and women over 75 years old, people from all walks of life.
Today I saw a blind young man accompanied by his father, many people with broken limbs, blued eyes, and many who carry the pictures of those killed in the events which breaks your heart.
Many people distribute drinks and refreshments to protestors, some wave hands from the windows of their houses showing their green ribbons, and all of this, in an unbelievable moving silence.
Remember when in middle school as a composition homework, we had to write about "Imagine you could see the seed of people's hearts." Today these green ribbons have become those seeds. When you see them you get energized, and feel that you are all one. Cheating these people is worse than any crime and it is such a loss to waste all this hope and energy. I hope we make something good out of it.
I have to add that what you and other Iranians outside of Iran are doing to support us is really warming our hearts. We are sure what you are doing is very effective. When they ask all foreign reporters to leave the country and when all of the communication channels are disconnected, it is your voice that takes our voice to the outside world.
Many criticize us and wonder what does Mr. Mousavi have that is so special? They argue that after all he is one of the many in that corrupt system of the Islamic Republic and will never act against it. My argument is that this is not about Mousavi, but about people realizing that they are not followers like a herd of sheep that goes anywhere it is summoned to go. They will know that the individual will does matter and that their actions can be effective and can speak louder than any specific person; this to me is the most important aspect of these events. Now either Mousavi or anyone else who will end up in power, they will have the understanding of what people want and what they are capable of, and how they can voice their requests. This is the significant and important step and now that Mousavi has chosen to go ahead, we will support him.
I had so much to tell! It is so good talk to each other.
3:12 PM ET -- Obama: "The world Is watching." President Obama comments on Khamenei's speech in a new interview with CBS News' Harry Smith:
"And I'm very concerned based on some of the tenor -- and tone of the statements that have been made -- that the government of Iran recognize that the world is watching. And how they approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is and -- and is not."
2:58 PM ET -- Who's afraid of Khamenei? Not Karoubi, apparently.
Defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi called on Friday for Iran's election result to be cancelled, hours after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed the victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In an open letter which will be delivered to the country's highest legislative body, the Guardian Council, on Saturday, Karoubi said: "Accept the Iranian nation's will by cancelling the vote and guarantee the establishment's survival."
The letter was published on Karoubi's website.
2:53 PM ET -- "Basiji Hunting." Steve Clemons posts an email describing a new trend:
By the way, two nights ago I went out to see a few things ... as the general crowds spread into their homes militia style Mousavi supporters were out on the streets 'Basiji hunting'.
Their resolve is no less than these thugs -- they after hunting them down. They use their phones, their childhood friends, their intimate knowledge of their districts and neighbours to plan their attacks -- they're organised and they're supported by their community so they have little fear. They create the havoc they're after, ambush the thugs, use their Cocktail Molotovs, disperse and re-assemble elsewhere and then start again - and the door of every house is open to them as safe harbour -- they're community-connected.
The Basiji's are not.
These are not the students in the dorms, they're the street young -- they know the ways better than most thugs - and these young, a surprising number of them girls, are becoming more agile in their ways as each night passes on.
2:43 PM ET -- BBC enlisting new satellites to broadcast in Iran. Those crafty Brits!
The BBC is using two extra satellites to broadcast its Farsi-language service after days of jamming it blamed on Iran.
The British state-run news organization said the move was meant to help it reach its Iranian audience as the crisis over their country's disputed election deepens. It is also a challenge to Iran's religious government, which has accused foreign broadcasters of stirring unrest, singling out the BBC in particular.
"This is an important time for Iran," BBC World Service Director Peter Horrocks said in a statement. "We hope that by adding more ways to access BBC Persian television, Farsi-speaking audiences can get the high quality news, analysis and debate they clearly desire."
2:41 PM ET -- White House responds to Khamenei's speech.
2:24 PM ET -- Vandalizing for the state. The first 50 seconds or so show security officials apparently vandalizing an office. From the sounds of the accents, an Iranian-American writes, this appears to be in northern Iran.
2:18 PM ET -- Britain's Channel 4 News. They've had some of the best television coverage since this began. Here's their latest, on Khamenei's speech:
2:02 PM ET -- Intensity building for tomorrow. Lots of reports on Twitter, backed by contacts in Iran, say the "Allahu Akbar!" chants are already booming in Tehran tonight.
Meanwhile, an Iranian American friend notes that the National Front Party -- the party that was formed under overthrown Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq -- releases a statement calling tomorrow's rally a 'destiny-maker for the people of Iran.'
1:50 PM ET -- Mousavi's art. Via Sahil Kapur, "A believer that art plays a secondary role to political engagement, Mousavi once wrote that 'the paint brush will never take the place of the communal struggle for freedom. It must be said that the expressive work of any painter or artist will not minimize the need to perform his social responsibilities. Yet it is within the scope of these responsibilities that his art can provide a vision for a way of living in an alternative future.'"
Some of his paintings below -- more here:
1:25 PM ET -- Another must read from Roger Cohen. It will be a sad day when his visa expires. His writing has been some of the best from the ground.
Iran has sought independence and some form of democracy for over a century. It now has the former but this election has clarified, for an overwhelmingly young population, the Islamic Republic's utter denial of the latter.
The feeling in the crowd seems to be: today or never, all together and heave!
A man holds his mobile phone up to me: footage of a man with his head blown off last Monday. A man, 28, whispers: "The government will use more violence, but some of us have to make the sacrifice."
Another whisper: "Where are you from?" When I say the United States, he says: "Please give our regards to freedom."
Incidentally, Cohen also writes, "The president has been right to tread carefully, given poisonous American-Iranian history, but has erred on the side of caution. He sounds like a man rehearsing prepared lines rather than the leader of the free world. A stronger condemnation of the violence and repression is needed, despite Khamenei's warnings. Obama should also rectify his erroneous equating, from the U.S. national security perspective, of Ahmadinejad and Moussavi."
1:02 PM ET -- House resolution passes overwhelmingly.
In the strongest message yet from the U.S. government, the House voted 405-1 Friday to condemn Tehran's crackdown on demonstrators and the government's interference with Internet and cell phone communications.
The resolution was initiated by Republicans as a veiled criticism of President Barack Obama, who has been reluctant to criticize Tehran's handling of disputed elections that left hard-liner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power.
Rep. Mike Pence, who co-sponsored the resolution, said he disagrees with the administration that it must not meddle in Iran's affairs.
"When Ronald Reagan went before the Brandenburg Gate, he did not say Mr. (Mikhail) Gorbachev, that wall is none of our business," said Pence, R-Ind., of President Reagan's famous exhortation to the Soviet leader to "tear down that wall."
Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas libertarian who often speaks out against what he regards as government meddling, cast the sole opposing vote.
12:41 PM ET -- "There will be blood." Parvez Sharma, director of "A Jihad for Love," interviews a female photojournalist in Iran. The sense of foreboding weighs so heavily.
Like many others, she is enraged by the "khutba" (Friday sermon) of the Ayatollah Khamenei which will now open the doors for a Tiananmen in Tehran. Saturday will likely be the bloodiest day so far, if the brave crowds decide to come out. Another friend from Tehran cried on the phone, after he had been to Tehran University to pray and hear the Ayatollah's sermon. His last words to me before the mobile phone connection was cut off were: "Tomorrow there will be blood."
Politico reported that the White House worked to tone down the language: 'We made it clear that we didn't want to make the U.S. a foil in a debate that has nothing to do with us,' a senior administration told me this morning. 'This is a debate among Iranians.'"
Via reader David, here is the vote breakdown.
12:31 PM ET -- Bussed in for Khamenei's speech. As noted last night, there was an effort to transport people from Qom and other cities to the prayers in Tehran, with attendance levels being used as a proxy for support for the government. Here's a photo of Iran from a Farsi site -- the image metadata states it is from today.
12:24 PM ET -- Peggy Noonan bashes Republicans' Iran rhetoric. A pretty surprising column:
America so often gets Iran wrong. We didn't know when the shah was going to fall, didn't foresee the massive wave that would topple him, didn't know the 1979 revolution would move violently against American citizens, didn't know how to handle the hostage-taking. Last week we didn't know a mass rebellion was coming, and this week we don't know who will emerge the full or partial victor. So modesty and humility seem appropriate stances from which to observe and comment. ...
John McCain and others went quite crazy insisting President Obama declare whose side America was on, as if the world doesn't know whose side America is on. "In the cause of freedom, America cannot be neutral," said Rep. Mike Pence. Who says it's neutral? This was Aggressive Political Solipsism at work: Always exploit events to show you love freedom more than the other guy, always make someone else's delicate drama your excuse for a thumping curtain speech.
12:19 PM ET -- Congressional debate on Iran resolution. Adam Blickstein has details on what was said.
11:56 AM ET -- Are U.S. officials being too quiet? I wanted to reexamine this question in light of some new comments today. First, from Spencer Ackerman:
Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said he has a hard time taking a strong stance one way or the other about the Berman-Pence Iran resolution currently being debated on the House floor. But it's wading awfully close into a "political act" for his taste "The text is not objectionable," Ghaemi told me. "But it will be seen as a political act" by the Iranian regime.
Second, via Andrew, comments by Amir Fakhravar, who has been "jailed and tortured in Iran for advocating democracy and speaking out against the Iranian government" and remains in touch with reformers:
"Right now, (Obama) could say, 'America stands for freedom and democracy, and as a United States president, I want to stand behind all of the freedom fighters in the world that are fighting peacefully to have democracy and freedom,'" Fakhravar said. "That's the American Dream. I don't know why he didn't say that. He said, 'this is none of our business.'"
The contrary argument, of course, is that if Obama or Congress speak out more aggressively, it will endanger the reformists in Iran and give ammunition to Khamenei and his allies.
Khamenei's speech today pushed me to reexamine this line of thinking. He didn't need an incendiary line from Obama to stir up anti-U.S. sentiments -- he just made one up. "It was said on behalf of the U.S. President that he was waiting for a day that people came out to streets," he claimed.
It seems my basic question is: Can Obama afford to be slightly more vocal on human rights concerns given that Khamenei's government is willing to fabricate statements to advance his agenda?
11:48 AM ET -- Khamenei referenced Waco. Near the end of his speech: "Even inside America, during the time of the Democrats, time of Clinton, 80 people were burned alive in Waco. Now you are talking about human rights? Well, I believe that the officials of America and EU should feel some embarrassment, shouldn't say anything like that."
10:54 AM ET -- An Iranian, unafraid (and suddenly religious!) From a reader in Iran:
despite the "leaders" words today I and I'm sure many others will be going out tomorrow...I never took much heed in what he had to say in the past and still don't. there are many in my family who fear for my safety when I go out as I'm only here for 9 more days. my answer for them is that it is my responsibility to march against an unjust regime...hell as a staunch atheist I find myself shouting Allah Akbar in the streets.
10:33 AM ET -- Report: Iranian soccer players suspended. NIAC translates a tweet from an Iranian source they trust: "The soccer players who were wearing green wristbands in the Iran-South Korea game have been suspended."
And fresh signs of resistance:
Iran's Seda o Sima (State TV) internet site was hacked today. The title was changed to state: "When will killing brothers end?" Below it states: "Mr. Ahmadinejad, how long do we have to stand these images? The kids of the people are getting killed day by day. How long do you plan on carrying out this carnage? For the sake of power, you have stepped on the dignity of the nation. What will be next after you have killed and scarred the kids of this land?"
The website is currently down.
10:20 AM ET -- "Suppression is imminent." "'The situation in Iran is now critical - the nation is heartbroken - suppression is imminent,' tweets one widely followed Iranian Twitter user and Mousavi supporter."
10:15 AM ET -- Tehran's Tiananmen -- what if? Reader Tze Ming, a New Zealand Chinese writer and political analyst, argues that Iran's reaction to a crackdown tomorrow may be far different than what happened after Tiananmen in China.
The 20th anniversary of the June 4th massacre took place, just a few weeks ago. It was with this weighing deeply on me, (and as a regime transition geek of the highest order) that I started tracking #iranelection on Twitter early on Friday (London time).
For a week now, I have been praying for 'no Tiananmen' in Tehran, but as you know, Khamenei's 'Li Peng' speech just now has basically forced the Green movement into a showdown with armed forces tomorrow. Nick Kristof is publicly fearing for a Tehran Tiananmen on Twitter, and the comparisons will snowball.
But what did Tiananmen really mean?
It was a massacre, rare in the level of its brutality. But its most important effect was to completely destroy the democracy movement in China. The game was over. The student leaders fled. The end.
Iran is different. As Reza Aslan has pointed out in various interviews in the last few days, the Iranian precedent is that a movement feeds off martyrdom. The round of killings, mourning demonstrations, more killings, more mourning demonstrations, is what eventually deposed the Shah.
The tanks killed the movement in China, and the country has suffered for it. Those students did not know how to put together a mass movement for national change; they had no playbook, no civil society, no vote, no institutions. And they were 20 years old. Iran has Rafsanjani, Khatami, Mousavi and Karoubi, who brought down the Shah with lengthy, building broadbased mourning demonstrations that fed off the continued martyring of their demonstrators. I am shaken by the thought of an impending massacre on the streets of Tehran, but I know that this will not be the end of the movement.
10:04 AM ET -- International anger at Khamenei. It seems Khamenei's speech is going to lead to a far greater outcry from official quarters internationally. The UK government has summoned Iran's ambassador in London to "explain" the speech. And Amnesty International released this statement:
This morning's speech by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, indicates the authorities' readiness to launch violent crackdowns if people continue to protest which may cause a widespread loss of life, Amnesty International said today.
"We are extremely disturbed at statements made by Ayatollah Khamenei which seem to give the green light to security forces to violently handle protesters exercising their right to demonstrate and express their views," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program.
9:36 AM ET -- Permit denied for Saturday's rally. A trusted Iranian on Twitter: "confirmed - the Gov has refused to issue a permit for Sea of Green march at 4pm on Saturday in Tehran." In other words, police have free range to crack down.
Yet it still appears that these courageous people will march, from Enghelab Sq. at the University of Tehran toward Azadi (Freedom) Square.
That said, the emails I'm receiving give a sense of deep trepidation -- and fear -- over Khamenei's threats.
I am in Sweden and have so many iranian students around me. Today everybody was desperate after hearing Khamenei's speach. They didn't expect the leader to come to their side, but to search for a little more time and give a more ambiguous speach to the country. Now nobody knows what will happen, but they know that it will be bloody: either people will stop the uprising, in which case there there will be so much violence and arrests towards the people, or they will try to overthrow all the system, in which case there will be a bloody revolution, successful or unsuccessful. It is not so clear what people want to do now. My girlfriends' parents in Tehran say they think people will give up. Nobody wants to die, with families still remembering the 1979 revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. But it all depends also on Moussavi-Kathami-Karroubi-Rafsanjani and what they will say. Are they ready to wage war to the country? The hope of everybody is in an internal split in the leadership, the deposition of Khamenei, or at least some big sectors of army joining the people, but everybody agrees
this will be very difficult to realize.
9:28 AM ET -- "Hard to tell a kidnapping from an arrest." This week, Iranian police arrested 78-year-old Ebrahim Yazdi while he was sitting in the hospital, receiving care for severe dehydration. Yazdi was a former foreign minister and top aide to Khamenei who days before had called the election a fraud.
Yesterday NPR interviewed Yazdi's son Youseph, who explained the scene at the hospital:
They came on Monday night Tehran time to arrest several members of the Freedom Movement of Iran. They picked up up Mr. Tavassoli, an official of the FMI at his office. They came to our Tehran home to arrest my father and my mother told them he was not home. They caught up with him on Tuesday in the hospital and took him in. They don't feel obligated to provide any information, or even wear uniforms. It would be hard to tell a kidnapping from an arrest.
This is not 'Miranda rights' territory -- more like one big Gitmo.
In past arrests, it's been the Revolutionary Court who has arrested him, under the orders of the Tehran prosecutor Mortazavi. But the situation has changed this week, and I'm not sure where he was held or who held him. I'm trying to reach him at the hospital now.
Youseph's take on the current situation: "To borrow from Dickens, it's the best of times and the worst of times."
9:13 AM ET -- Khamenei publicly raps Ahmadinejad, and woos Rafsanjani. A Guardian reporter, writing on Khamenei's speech today, describes it as "'the battle of wills' between the supreme leader and Rafsanjani who was name-checked in speech."
But the name check, it turns out, wasn't negative as might be expected. Khamenei is apparently trying to kill Rafsanjani with kindness. In the speech today, he defended Rafsanjani against charges of corruption made by Ahmadinejad while he was campaigning. He also talked up Rafsanjani's influential role in the current system, perhaps a reminder to him that he risks losing much if the system is upturned.
I have never have mentioned names during prayers on Friday before but I have to now. Rafsanjani and Nateq Noori's names have been mentioned. These gentlemen have not been accused of financial misdoings, but their relatives. If you have anything against them, prove them legally through the courts. Unless it is proven, no one can be accused.
I have known Rafsanjani for a long time. He is one of the most prominent members of this revolution. He was one of the major fighters before the revolution. After the victory, he was one the most influential members of the Islamic state. Still is. He walked with the Imam, still walking with him. He was almost martyred several times. He spent all his money on the revolution, the young people should know about this fact. He has had many responsibilities now -- president, leader of parliament --he has not made money out of the revolution for himself.
9:00 AM ET -- Video of Monday's shooting. For the sake of documentation, the most clear video yet of Monday's killing of a demonstrator after the rally.
8:54 AM ET -- Some international pressure. Via reader Jim.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday expressed concern over a spike in arrests after Iran's contested presidential election and the use of "excessive force" to quell protests.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights warned in a statement that illegal acts by militia and security forces "could provoke a serious deterioration in the security situation."
Pillay is "concerned about reports of an increasing number of arrests, which may not be in conformity with the law, and the possible illegal use of excessive force and acts of violence by some militia members," her office said.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also "commended the largely peaceful and dignified conduct of the huge demonstrations" in Tehran, underlining that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly were fundamental rights.
8:44 AM ET -- Postponing the inevitable. This seems to be the most widely held read on Khamenei's speech. "'Most analysts believe the outreach is just to kill time and extend this while they search for a solution, although there doesn't seem to be any,' said a political analyst in Tehran, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. 'This will only be a postponement of the inevitable, which is indeed a brutal crackdown.'"
8:30 AM ET -- The mood. It's a bit hard to gauge right now what effect Khamenei's threats will have on the public mood. To those of you in Iran, or with family there, please let me know what your sense is. We do know one thing: as of now, Mousavi is holding firm on his call for a march tomorrow.
8:05 AM ET -- Marching to Rafsanjani's house. After Friday prayers, Ansar Hezbollah, a public face of the plainclothes paramilitary Basij, called for a march to the home of former president Rafsanjani (who is thought to be organizing clerics against Khamenei). This comes a day after Rafsanjani's children were blocked from leaving the country.
7:18 AM ET -- Khamenei takes a hard line. A very harsh message. "Iran's supreme leader said Friday that the country's disputed presidential vote had not been rigged, sternly warning protesters of a crackdown if they continue massive demonstrations demanding a new election." Here's AP:
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sided with hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and offered no concessions to the opposition. He effectively closed any chance for a new vote by calling the June 12 election an "absolute victory."
The speech created a stark choice for candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters: Drop their demands for a new vote or take to the streets again in blatant defiance of the man endowed with virtually limitless powers under Iran's constitution.
Khamenei accused foreign media and Western countries of trying to create a political rift and stir up chaos in Iran.
"Some of our enemies in different parts of the world intended to depict this absolute victory, this definitive victory, as a doubtful victory," he said, according to an official translation on state TV's English-language channel. "It is your victory. They cannot manipulate it." [...]
Khamenei's address was his first since hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters flooded the streets in Tehran and elsewhere in the country in rallies evoking the revolution that ended Iran's U.S.-backed monarchy. On Thursday, supporters dressed in black and green flooded downtown Tehran in a somber, candlelit show of mourning for those who have been killed in clashes since Friday's vote.
Khamenei said the street protests would not have any impact.
"Some may imagine that street action will create political leverage against the system and force the authorities to give in to threats. No, this is wrong," he said.
2:25 AM ET -- Friday. The Friday prayers are about to begin. I haven't seen any reports indicating what Khamenei will say, though he is expected to make a policy announcement about the election.
The size of the crowds at the prayers has become, in the current environment, a proxy for gauging support for the current government. That explains why Mousavi and Karroubi have chosen to urge their supporters not to attend (Rezai, the third presidential candidate to run against Ahmadinejad, is more conservative and has not joined in the boycott).
Meanwhile, posters like this in the city of Qom are being hung, offering bus transportation into Tehran to join the prayers.
1:46 AM ET -- The congressional Iran resolution. Curiously, it is not on the schedule for tomorrow that is sent out daily by Majority Leader Hoyer.
1:35 AM ET -- How to help now that Google Translate is available in Persian/Farsi. A great guide is here. And please do pass along anything notable you find.
Also: Reader Dan notes that you add a translation bookmark to your browser to translate sites without having to return to Google. (Bookmark the English tab, not the Persian tab, if you want to traslate Farsi sites into English.)
1:07 AM ET -- They want blood. Frightening report out from the New York Times, via Chas.
Iranians shudder at the violence unleashed in their cities at night, with the shadowy vigilantes known as Basijis beating, looting and sometimes gunning down protesters they tracked during the day.
The vigilantes plan to take their fight into the daylight on Friday, with the public relations department of Ansar Hezbollah, the most public face of the Basij, announcing that they planned a public demonstration to expose the "seditious conspiracy" being carried out by "agitating hooligans."
"We invite the vigilant people who are always in the arena to make their loud objections heard in response to the babbling of this tribe," said the announcement, carried on the Web site Parsine.
The announcement could be the first indication that the government was taking its gloves off, Iranian analysts noted, because up to this point the Basijis, usually deployed as the shock troops to end any public protests, have been working in stealth.
In related news, NIAC highlights a report that a Basij was killed: "According to Iranian state media, (words in quotes are the language they used) 1 Basij has been 'martyred.' He was killed by 'thugs' (referring to the protesters who ran him over in Sa'adat Abad a northern well-off part of Tehran). According to state media, they have reported 8 deaths, one of them being a Basij and the others, according to them 'thugs.'"
1:01 AM ET -- Mousavi. The first video of Mousavi at Thursday's rally popped up 26 minutes ago.
12:55 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad's latest. "The government initially tried to dismiss Mousavi's election allegations and supporter anger, but after four days of sustained protest, Ahmadinejad appeared to backtrack on his criticism and take the growing opposition more seriously. 'I was only addressing those who rioted, set fires and attack people. I said they are nothing,' Ahmadinejad said in a previously taped video shown Thursday on state TV. 'Every single Iranian is valuable. Government is a service to all.'"
12:21 AM ET -- Ey Iran. An Iranian-American flags this video from Thursday's rally. The crowd is singing Ey Iran, a secular nationalist song that is, notably, not endorsed by the Islamic Republic.
Another Iranian-American writes in, "Wow. That's amazing. The song you posted people singing at the rally was the national anthem during the shah. That's one of those things that amazing/shocking to be heard in public. It is very secular but obviously identified very closely with the shah."
Update: Regarding the email above, several have written something to this effect (this one by reader Amir): "Your reader was incorrect about 'Ey Iran' being associated with the Shah at all. In fact it is a secular (popular) song which was never the official national anthem. The official national anthem of the shah was the "Imperial Salute of Iran." In fact, Ey Iran was used as a defacto national anthem in the beginning of the revolution.
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