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Entries in Zahra Rahnavard (7)


The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day

The Latest from Iran (31 July): And Now….?

Latest Iran Video: The "40th Day" Memorial (30 July)
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July – Part 2)

NEW Media Mischief: The Return of #CNNFail on Iran?
NEW Iran: Ayatollah Montazeri on the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi Letter (29 July)
The Latest from Iran (29 July): The Memorial and the Inauguration

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IRAN NEDA MOTHER2115 GMT: Good Night. For us at EA, a thank you to all those who have joined today and a symbolic reminder: pictured at left is Neda Agha Soltan's mother, who was not able to attend the ceremony at her daughter's grave but who lit a candle in a nearby park as her memorial.

2110 GMT: Coming to the close of an eventful day, let's drop in on Press TV's coverage: "Iran's opposition supporters, gathered at a cemetery in Tehran for a memorial service for the victims of the recent post-election unrest, have been met by Iranian police."

The image of a casual "meeting", perhaps for cake and a cup of tea, is dispelled in the next sentence, however, "Police forces on Thursday used tear gas to break up supporters of defeated presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi." And the overall report is neutral, even (whisper it) somewhat favourable towards the Green Movement.

That is, except for an obligatory last sentence: "Iranian authorities say foreign agents have fueled the post-vote violence which led to the deaths."

2015 GMT: has posted a range of photographs from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

2010 GMT: Tehran Bureau has an excellent selection of eyewitness accounts, all of which point towards the significance not of a single demonstration (although, if true, 40,000 in Behest-e-Zahra cemetery is impressive) but of numerous demonstrations across the capital. As one demonstrator caught the excitement, "It’s NUTS! I’ve never seen it like this before! It’s still going on, 9 pm now — raging! As I said, it's more like a riot, totally out of control."

1940 GMT: Radio Farda's website reports that hundreds of people demonstrated in Isfahan today.

1755 GMT: Islamic Republic News Agency, going "behind the scenes of the street riots", claims that the leadership of these riots are "political powers" and "retired elements of some security forces", implying that the recent protests are similar to those against the regime in the early 1980s.

1715 GMT: Reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi, Mahnaz Mohammadi, and Rokhsare Ghaem Maghami released after being arrested earlier at Behest-e-Zahra cemetery.

1645 GMT: State-funded Press TV in Iran apparently covered the protests at Neda's grave site, with a reporter calling in a live update.

1615 GMT: Etemade Melli has an account of Mehdi Karroubi's appearance at the memorial, including the resistance of mourners when security forces accosted him, and of his speech. The English translation, courtesy of Mani:

Karroubi walked towards Neda Agha Soltan's resting place, surrounded by a large group of people. The special forces attacked him and tried to disperse and separate the people from "the reform sheikh" [Karroubi] by beating them with clubs and pepper spray. The police encountered stiff resistance from the people, and Karroubi held his ground and stated strongly that he is staying in this place.
Karroubi sat beside Neda Agha Soltan's  grave and accompanied the people by reading the Fateheh [the prayer for the dead]  for Neda. The Prayer was read with protest intonations. Afterwards Hojjatoleslam Hadi Ghaffari joined Karroubi and spoke to the people for a few minutes. During Karroubi's speech, the security forces had a conflict with the people and arrested some individuals. These forces were confronted with slogans like "let him go, let him go" and flowers by the people [police presumably released those arrested].

Mehdi Karroubi, after spending an hour with the people, moved to the exit and his vehicle, accompanied by a large number of people chanting slogans.

1600 GMT: A reader sends in two other slogans:

"As long as the Supreme Leader isn't dead, our homeland won't be our homeland"
"We don't want crocodile's tears, we don't want the government of Mesbah" [referring to Ahmadinejad's religious mentor, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi)

1552 GMT: Ahmadinejad Flees? On 16 July, the day before Rafsanjani's Friday prayers, the President went to Mashaad. He did so again today, ostensibly to attend a gathering of scientists and faculty members.

1550 GMT: Some of the slogans from today, as reported by Mardomak's live blog:

Our Neda is not dead/the government is dead
Oh Martyred countryman! I will wrest back your vote
Fear not! fear not! we are in this together
Death to dictator
Mojtaba [Khamenei], may you die as you yearn for supreme leadership
The missiles of the basiji have no effect [Mani's Note: This echoes what was said in the 1970s, "The missiles have no effect, the Shah can only kill himself", implying what some think Ahmadinejad and maybe Khamenei must do.]

1545 GMT: Ramin Mostaghim of the Los Angeles Times (see 1345 GMT), who appears to be the best-placed "Western" correspondent in Tehran today, also says 40,000 were in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1540 GMT: Moments after writing the previous entry, this comes in from the Green Movement website Mowj-e-Sabz: there are clashes in several major streets in Tehran, including Motahari,Vali-e Asr, Beheshti, Hafez and Fatemi, with reports of police using tear gas and batons.

1535 GMT: We are receiving numerous reports of "heavy clashes" across Tehran and now in other cities like Ahwaz and Isfahan. We are refraining from giving details at this point because there is no verification of the extent of the protests and fighting.

1520 GMT: The Iranian pro-reformist website Mardomak has been live-blogging events. It reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, was able to get into the cemetery. Although there were many anti-riot police present, there were no major clashes inside Behesht-e-Zahra.

Here, however, is the striking entry. In contrast to CNN's report, taken up by other Western media, of 3000 mourners, Mardomak claims there were 40,000 in the cemetery.

1445 GMT: Picking up on some earlier news: the "reformist" Islamic Iran Participation Front has issued a strong statement asserting that the only way out of the disgrace of detentions and killings is the fall of the "coup government". Tehran Bureau offers a useful summary.

1440 GMT: A quieter phase in today's events. It appears that some mourners/demonstrators, having been hindered in their attempts at a memorial in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, are moving towards the Grand Mosala (the original location for today's gathering). Others are in streets around Tehran: it is report that "Vali Asr from Vali Asr Square to Vanak Square is jampacked and smokefilled".

So it is wait-and-see as to whether there is a Phase II or a series of scattered encounters. Meanwhile, a question: when he was turned away from the cemetery by security forces, where did Mir Hossein Mousavi go?

1405 GMT: Reuters,via Mehr News Agency, reports that Saeed Hajjarian was transferred from prison to a "state-owned" house today. Kazem Jalali, the head of Parliamentary Security Committee, said, "The Tehran prosecutor told me that Hajjarian was transferred today to a state-owned house with proper medical facilities....His relatives can visit him at the new place."

1345 GMT: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim have just filed this report for the Los Angeles Times, "Mourners overwhelm Iran security forces". If true, it is a significant account of a building protest movement. (Much of this information has circulated on Twitter but EA has not run some of the details because we could not verify. It is unclear how much of this article is based on the Twitter traffic and how much on first-hand reporting --- Mostaghim is apparently based in Tehran.)
Thousands and possibly tens of thousands of mourners, many of them black-clad young women carrying roses, overwhelmed security forces today at Tehran's largest cemetery to gather around the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose videotaped shooting at a June 20 demonstration stunned the world.

"Death to the dictator," those in the long procession of mourners converging on the burial site chanted, kicking up a storm of dust as they walked. "Neda is not dead. This government is dead."

Uniformed security forces initially clashed violently today with some of the mourners, supporters and leaders of the opposition, who were trying to publicly mourn protesters who died in the recent unrest. Unsuccessful presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi attempted to attend the graveside ceremony marking the religiously significant 40th day since the death of Agha-Soltan and others killed in the fighting.

"Oh, Hossein! Mir-Hossein," the mourners chanted in support of him.

According one witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, Mousavi stepped out of his car only to be surrounded by police, who forced him back into his vehicle and out of the cemetery.

At first mourners were confronted by the security forces, who struck them with truncheons and arrested some in an attempt to bar them from gathering at Tehran's Behesht Zahra cemetery, the country's largest. The tree-lined streets leading to the graves of Agha-Soltan and others were blocked by riot police, the witness said.

The witness said the mourners also identified and violently confronted several plainclothes Basiji militiamen.

"Police, police, support us," the mourners chanted. "God is great!"

But as the numbers mourners poured out of the nearby subway station and taxis along the highway, security forces retreated. One witness said police released detainees and began cooperating with the mourners, directing them to section 257 of the cemetery, where Agha-Soltan and others were buried. Mourners have been denied a permit to hold a ceremony in the city's Grand Mossala mosque later today, but protesters have said they will try to come together near the site of the mosque anyway, and march along nearby streets if they are prevented from entering the site....

1330 GMT: EPersian Radio is claiming that Mehdi Karroubi, 20 minutes ago in Behesht-e-Zahra, told those gathered to move towards the Grand Mosala.

1325 GMT: We've just posted the first video to come out of the memorial at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1305 GMT: BBC Persian, citing Press TV, says security forces have used tear gas to disperse mourners at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery. (hat tip to a reader)

1255 GMT: Mohammad Khatami has issued another statement on detentions and interrogations, criticising the closure of Kahrizak Prison as a token move and declaring, "Those who are responsible must be dealt with and those abused must be compensated."

1245 GMT: Revolutionary Road is live-blogging on the memorial with details such as, "Mourners chant: 'Death to Dictator!' Basijis now chanting 'God is Great' too."

1234 GMT: Claim that Mehdi Karroubi has entered Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1228 GMT: Claims of gatherings across Tehran, with largest at Ferdousi Square.

1218 GMT: BBC Persian reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mahnaz Mohammadi have been arrested during today's memorial.

1209 GMT: Deutsche Welle is also reporting (in Farsi) on clashes and arrests at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

Al Jazeera English has just cut to a correspondent in Tehran (on a rooftop far from the cemetery) who is repeating the news provided by Reuters.

1200 GMT: Not a word from "mainstream" media in their headlines but EPersian Radio is claiming to carry reports by cellphone from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1145 GMT: Witness to Reuters: "Police forced Mousavi to return to his car and leave the cemetery. Police are also warning mourners to leave the place or face the consequences."

1140 GMT: Reuters reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi has entered Behesht-e- Zahra cemetery to pay his respects to those killed in post-election violence. Marchers clung to his car, chanting "Mousavi we support you".

However, there are also UNCONFIRMED reports that he has been forced to leave by security forces.

1130 GMT: And So It Begins. It is now 4 p.m. in Tehran, and Reuters is reporting, via a witness, "Hundreds have gathered around Neda Agha-Soltan's grave to mourn her death and other victims' deaths....Police arrested some of them....Dozens of riot police also arrived and are trying to disperse the crowd."

1125 GMT: Saeed Mortazavi, the prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court and Prosecutor General of Tehran, has issued a statement announcing the first trials of detained protestors on Saturday and criticising the "enemies" who challenged the Presidential election, a "golden page [in] the book of religious democracy":
Once again we had to witness that the global imperialism lead by America and Britain did not accept one of the world s most democratic election and the will of you free people....Obviously some mercenaries and misled groups within the country were manipulated by foreigners, and by committing illegal and dishonest actions formed a base for the unrest of elements of the enemy.

Charges include "attacking military centres with weapons, firearms, and incendiary bombs", "attacking government centres and setting them on fire", "destroying public property", "creating panic among the people", and "contact with heretic and infidel groups".

1120 GMT: Peykeiran reports that "opposition" newspapers have been removed from the front of kiosks in Tehran since Sunday.

1100 GMT: A reader has pointed towards an Iranian blog on conditions in the Kahrizak prison, whose closure as a "non-standard" facility was ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei earlier this week. The author of the entry, who claimed he/she was detained for almost a month, writes of "200 people in single room, all beaten, bruised and wounded" and names six people who allegedly died in the prison.

1020 GMT: Revolution in Iran, drawing from a variety of sources, is maintain a running list of those who have died in the post-election conflict, adding names where possible. The list, updated yesterday, now has about 180 listed deaths with more than 60 persons identified.

1000 GMT: We've posted a separate entry, half in jest, half as serious comment on "media", on the approach of CNN to today's events: "Media Mischief --- The Return of #CNNFail?"

0753 GMT: Rooz Online breaks the news that Neda Agha Soltan's mother will NOT be at the memorial at her daughter's grave in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

0745 GMT: Reconfirming the Memorial. Ghalam News, Mir Hossein Mousavi's website, still features its story from last night: "Commemoration of Martyrs Movement: Behest-e-Zahra, 1600 Hours on Thursday".

0730 GMT: New Move for Political Front? Rasoul Montajebnia, a deputy of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad-e-Melli Party, has suggested that reformists form a "leadership assembly" including Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami to lead all reformist groups in Iran.

0720 GMT: How You Know the Regime is Nervous. Two notable stories from the "conservative" press:

Kayhan has claimed, "We have found documents proving that some of the rioters participating in the Tehran have been killed by some thugs hired by Mousavi and Khatami."

Fars News tops this, asserting that Neda Agha Soltan "is alive and in Greece"!

0715 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has also responded to the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi letter. Summary is in separate entry.

0700 GMT: Summarising News on Detainees. From Parleman News:

Although a lot of publicity has been given to "the release of Said Hajjarian", he has not yet been freed.
Mohammad Tavassoli, the head of the political office of the Freedom Party, was released on Monday.
Journalist Aida Mesbahi has been released on bail.
Shadi Sadr, the attorney, was released on bail.
The families of attorney Abdulfath Soltani and journalist Abdoreza Tajik have been asked to post bail.
Mohammad Atrianfar has spoken with his family and seems to be in good health.
The families of Hengameh Shahidi and Somayeh Tohidlou are concerned because they have heard nothing regarding them.
Jila Bani-yaghoub has met with her mother. Bani-Yaghoub told her mother that she does not expect to be released soon. Her husband Bahman Ahmadi has also met his family.
The families of Saeed Laylez, Ahmad Zobd Abadi and Kaveh Mozaffari have been told that these individuals are quarantined and prohibited from meeting people.

0650 GMT: Ayatollah Montazeri has published a response to the letter from Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mir Hossein Mousavi asking for intervention on the detainees issue. We've posted the English translation, as well as other statements by clerics, in a separate entry.

0530 GMT: The Iranian post-election conflict has been marked by a convergence of complicated, often hard to see, manoeuvres behind the scenes and of high-profile events. Today's planned "40th Day" memorial, set for 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, is one of those events. It is the most prominent since the 17 July gathering for Friday prayers in Tehran and, arguably, the most significant since the first organised mass demonstration on 15 June, three days after the election.

Put bluntly, if the Green Movement can mobilise thousands of people on the streets of Tehran, whether or not they make it to Behesht-e-Zahra, and if Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi make their planned appearance, this will be the symbolic moment that shows --- seven weeks after the election --- that the Government has not been able to put down opposition. Conversely, if those thousands do not appear and if opposition leaders do not show up, it will be an indication that, while symbolic protests will continue, they will not put the pressure of mass activity upon the regime.

A sign of that importance is the return of some "mainstream" foreign media to the Iran story. The BBC is highlighting, "Iran Opposition Vows to Defy Ban", both in its broadcasts and on its website. Their reports have been bolstered, and indeed prompted, by a message from Neda Agha Soltan's mother expressing gratitude to those remembering her daughter. (Neda's mother will also be at Behesht-e-Zahra today, although it is unclear whether this will be as part of the 4 p.m. ceremony.) In contrast, Time magazine casts an ominous, even negative, shadow as "Tehran Braces for Another Day of Street Battles": "Although tens of thousands are expected to march in silence July 30,...many more will be staying home." (CNN and Al Jazeera English lag behind, with neither referring to today's plans.)

Understandably, the significance of this moment emerged in some confusion and nervousness amongst activists yesterday. The apparent change of plans from the 6 p.m. gathering in the Grand Mosala to the Behest-e-Zahra memorial took time to emerge, and with the Government-imposed difficulties in communication, the opposition feared that many would not get word of today's schedule. This morning there seems to be an easing of those concerns, and attention is turning to the response of the Government to the gatherings. An unconfirmed report last night asserted that the Supreme Leader's office had put out a communiqué ordering no use of force against marchers. If true, that would appear to be an acceptance of large crowds at Behehst-e-Zahra and, indeed, in the streets surrounding the cemetery.

Latest Iran Video: Zahra Rahnavard, Vanak Square Protests

The Latest from Iran (26 July): United in Protest?
The Latest from Iran (25 July): A President Retreats

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25 July: Tehran Demonstrations at Night


25 July: Tehran "Down with the Dictator!"


25 July: Vanak Square, Tehran




24 July: Zahra Rahnavard, wife of Mir Hossein Mosavi, on Detained Brother (in Farsi)


The Latest from Iran (24 July): Waiting for the Next Move

NEW Iran: How the "New Media" Tore Down the Gates of the "Mainstream"
Iran: A Clerical Front Against the Supreme Leader?
The Latest from Iran (23 July): Preparing the Front

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2055 GMT: Associated Press now has the Rahim-Mashai story. It quotes Presidential assistant Hashemi via the Islamic Republic News Agency: ""After the announcement of the exalted supreme leader's order, Mashai doesn't consider himself first vice president."

2030 GMT: Coincidence of the Day. When the news arrived at Enduring America, via a reader, that Vice President Rahim-Mashai had resigned, I was working on another entry. The title? "Iran: How the 'New Media' Tore Down the Gates of the 'Mainstream'".

The story arrived at EA at 1931 GMT. We verified and posted at 2000 GMT. As of now, no mainstream media outside Iran have noticed the story.

2010 GMT: From the Fars story on Rahim-Mashai resignation: The senior assistant to President Ahmadinejad, Seyed Mojtaba Hashemi Tamreh, answering a question from a Fars reporter over the Supreme Leader's letter demanding the withdrawal of Rahim-Mashai's appointment, said that the First Vice President had resigned.

2000 GMT: URGENT NEWS FLASH --- Fars News Agency is reporting that First Vice President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai has resigned.

1840 GMT: Now the "Conservative" Students Turn Against Ahmadinejad. The "Student Movement for Justice and Equality" has announced that, if First Vice President Rahim-Mashai is not removed by Sunday, they will have a protest sit-in in Pasteur Square. They will do so on behalf of the 24 million people who voted for the President and in defense of the rule of the Constitution and Velayet-e-Faqih (clerical authority).

1825 GMT: Another Air Tragedy. An Arbatour flight from Tehran crashed when trying to land at Mashaad in eastern Iran, apparently because of malfunctioning landing gear. The death toll is currently estimated at between 20 and 30 out of the 160 passengers and crew. The plane, like the one that crashed recently just outside Tehran killing 168 people, was Russian-made.

1800 GMT: Another "Conservative" Critic of the Government. The Mayor of Tehran, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, has joined the chorus calling on the President to get rid of his First Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. The statement is blunt: Rahim-Mashai and his wife are both "hypocrites".

1700 GMT: Fars News has released the text of the Supreme Leader's demand that President Ahmadinejad revoke the appointment of his First Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. The two-sentence letter says that Rahim-Mashai has spoken "against the interests of the Government" and caused frustration and differences.

There are reports that IRIB state television has broadcast the text.

1500 GMT: Update on Son Killed, Father Detained. Yesterday we wrote about the case of 27-year-old Masoud Hashemzadeh, killed on 20 June by a single gunshot. Iranian authorities refused the family's request for a mourning ceremony, and security forces subsequently raided the house.

Reports have now come in that Hashemzadeh's father, detained in the raid, has been released on bail.

1430 GMT: Fighting Back. Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami used his leadership of Friday prayers in Tehran to strike at former President Rafsanjani and, possibly, the clerics challenging the legitimacy of the Government and the Supreme Leader's position.

Khatami declared, "We know of some insulting private meetings. We know about the plots against the leader but you (who hold these meetings) should know that you will not be able to stand against the people. Our people will defend the leader until the last drop of their blood."

Khatami's address should be considered in conjunction with yesterday's letter, issued by "conservative" members of the Assembly of Experts, seeking to reinforce Ayatollah Khamenei and undermine Rafsanjani. Conversely, I am now watching for the response of senior clerics, whether individually or as a bloc, who are criticising Ahmadinejad.

1000 GMT: A quick note about a new video resource. An Iranian activist has uploaded hundreds of clips on post-election events to a YouTube channel.

0715 GMT: Mowj-e-Sabz is reporting that the son of Dr Abdolhossein Ruhol Amini, one of the top consultants to Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei, has died in Evin Prison. The family were informed via phone on Tuesday of the death of Mohsen Ruhol Amini, who was arrested during the 18 Tir protests on 9 July.

0650 GMT: More on "Foreign Forces". Just after I posted the entry below on BBC Persian's footage of a Hezbollah member amongst plainsclothes Iranian security forces, a reader pointed me to the video testimony of Ali Zare, a photographer for the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri who was detained amidst protests in Enqelab Square: "Somebody came to me and said, 'Please come with us.' He was Iranian but the other two persons who arrested me, they are from Lebanon."

Zare also says that, during questioning, he was threatened with a knife and with electricity. Still, he laughs about the comment of one interrogator: "Don't move. I want to cut your finger artistically because you are an artist and you need to have a nice finger."

0640 GMT: The First Wave of the Political Front? Following Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement that he will not stop protesting until all detainees are released, his advisor has reportedly said that the committee on the situation of those arrested will start work on Saturday. It is a shrewd political as well as humanitarian move: the detention issue is one that can be used without pause against the Government, uniting the various factions in the Green Movement.

0615 GMT: One of the most provocative rumours, amidst the demonstrations after the elections, was that the Iranian Government was using "foreign fighters", especially from Lebanon's Hezbollah, against the protests.

BBC Persian follows up the story, claiming that footage of a raid of Mousavi headquarters by Government plainclothes officers includes a prominent member of Lebanese Hezbollah. The broadcaster adds, however, that this is the only known case of participation by a Hezbollah member, so it is not known whether this is an isolated incident or part of a wider pattern.

0530 GMT: Most of the news this morning is catching up with a flurry of events yesterday, including the spate of clerical fatwas challenging the Government and the divisions within the Ahmadinejad camp.

Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page prints an English translation of the fatwa of Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjan (pictured), issued in response to a follower's question: "Does the Supreme Leader’s confirmation return the legitimacy to the tenth administration and the president?" The answer is even blunter than we reported on Thursday:
If someone finds confidence that the mentioned individual has come to power by illegitimate means and by forgery, his confirmation by the Supreme Leader as the president and the completion of the inauguration ceremony will not legitimize him.

Ansar News offers a new version of the heated argument in the Presidential Cabinet over Ahmadinejad's insistence on the First Vice President, Esfandiari Rahim-Mashai. According to the report, when ministers asked the President to explain his decision, he left the room and put Rahim-Mashai in charge of the meeting. This in turn angered three ministers, who walked out in protest.

Opposition leaders were fairly quiet on Thursday. The most prominent statement came from Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who confirmed the detention of her brother soon after the 12 June election: “The government can fabricate as many lies as it wants to, but the people of Iran will never believe any of the allegations against my detained brother. My brother is only one amongst many other Iranian brothers and sisters who have been imprisoned – this is why I have not given his name to the media.”

The Latest from Iran (23 July): Preparing the Front

The Latest from Iran (24 July): Waiting for the Next Move

Iran: Ahmadinejad v. The Conservatives?
Iran Video: The Protests Continue (21-22 July)
The Latest from Iran (22 July): “The Pendulum Swings” Towards Opposition

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2200 GMT: Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, who earlier in the day denounced the appointment of First Vice President Esfandiari Rahim-Mashai, has criticised the "aggressive language" of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting: "We should urge everyone to use the language of friendship and compassion because the aggressive language used by IRIB will not help resolve any of the problems."

2105 GMT: Stupidity and Sense. In the Christian Science Monitor, an opinion piece by a Joshua Gleis decides to forego any consideration of events in favour of making stuff up: "When Middle Eastern powers feel trapped, they tend to swing blindly at outside states.". Therefore Iran has "the power to make things turn ugly fast". It could "might decide to ratchet up the tension with Britain", on the basis that it detained 15 Britain soldiers in March 2007 for crossing into Iranian waters. It "may decide to use its proxy force Hezbollah to carry out a deadly terrorist attack". It could launch "a major terrorist attack, like the one it carried out in 1994 at the Buenos Aires Jewish community center". It might kidnap the Statue of Liberty, holding it to ransom for the missing components for its Nuclear Bomb. (OK, the last one was mine, based on just as much evidence as Mr Gleis has for his "maybes".)

A bit of a relief, therefore, to hear this from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which substitutes a cold appreciation of the current situation for wild fantasies: ""The internal debates going on inside Iran have made it difficult, if not impossible, for them to pursue any diplomatic engagement, not just with us but anyone, like the P5+1 [permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany]. There is so much that is on hold."

2005 GMT: Son Killed, Mourning Dad Detained. A Los Angeles Times blog summarises a story, from Norooz Online, which has been racing around the Internet. On 20 June, Massoud Hashemzadeh was killed by a gunshot to the heart during demonstrations in Tehran. Hashemzadeh was buried in his native village in northern Iran, but the family was barred from holding any commemorative ceremonies.

On Thursday afternoon, security forces and Basiji militia, accompanied by uniformed security forces, went to Hashemzadeh's home. Maybe they showed up because well-wishers insisted on going to the home to offer their condolences. Maybe they arrived because on Tuesday, Hashemzadeh's brother and father told BBC Persian of the authorities' refusal to allow a mourning service.

In any case, after ripping down photographs of Hashemzadeh and messages of condolences, his father was detained. His two brothers, unwilling to let their father be taken away on his own, were detained as well.

2000 GMT: Hours after Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi signed a letter claiming the Assembly of Experts was seeking the removal of Hashemi Rafsanjani as its head (see 1400 GMT), a group of Qom clerics have issued a statement distancing themselves from the Ayatollah.

1700 GMT: Ahmadinejad Stands Tough. The Islamic Republic News Agency has published the President's official letter of appointment of his Vice Presidents, and Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, despite the opposition of the Supreme Leader and many "conservatives", is First amongst them. The list:

1) Mehrdad Bazrpash (head of the national youth office)
2) Parviz Davoodi (highest ranking adviser to the president)
3) Seyed Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi (highest ranking assistant to the president)
4) Ali Akbar Salehi (head of the atomic energy agency)
5) Mohammad Javad Hajaliakbari (presidential adviser in youth affairs)
6) Massoud Zaribafan (head of the martyr's foundation and veteran affairs)
7) Hamid Baghai (head of office of cultural heritage, tourism and handicrafts)
8) Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai (highest ranking vice president).

1400 GMT: Curiouser and Curiouser. The ripples from the Rahim-Mashai appointment as First Vice President spread wider and in unexpected directions. The newspaper Parto Sokhan, is headed by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who is considered as the spiritual guide of  President Ahmadinejad. Despite this, the editor of the paper, Qasem Ravanbakhsh, has written an editorial spelling out the reasons for the disapproval of Esfandiar Rahim-Moshai. He cites the famous statement by the Vice President that Iranians are friends of the Israeli people but is more upset about Rahim-Mashai's interventions into theological argument.

Given that the editorial would probably not have appeared without Mesbah Yazdi's acceptance, it appears that the President may now be defying even his spiritual mentor.

1315 GMT: Nuclear Update. While the resignation of Gholam Reza Aghazadeh as the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation received a good deal of attention, with speculation as to why he was leaving, the naming of Ali Akbar Salehi to the post has gone unnoticed.

Salehi's appointment is a sign the Iranian leadership has not closed the door to talks over the nuclear programme. Salehi was Iran’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between 1999 and 2004. It was a sensitive time when the UN watchdog began investigating Iran’s programme: Iran's nuclear plant at Natanz was revealed, but Salehi, on Iran’s behalf, signed the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, allowing the IAEA snap inspections. He also handled Iran’s 2003-2005 talks with the European Union, which led to Tehran's suspension of uranium enrichment as a “goodwill gesture”. Salehi holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is fluent in English.

1215 GMT: Social Media Success! Less than three hours after we were notified that publication had been blocked on the Facebook page of Zahra Rahnavard (0750 GMT), the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the restriction was lifted. She is now posting regularly.

1025 GMT: And Furthermore. Press TV is also being much nicer to Mir Hossein Mousavi at the moment. It covers his meeting with journalists under the headline, "Mousavi shows no sign of white flag", and the opening paragraph, "Without any indication of relenting, defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi says he will not drop his challenge to the June 12 election results."

1020 GMT: Uh Oh, Mahmoud. The President may want to watch his back or to consider a climbdown from his current position. In another sign of pressure on Ahmadinejad from both the Supreme Leader and from other conservative leaders, Press TV's website decided within the last hour to run the story of Cabinet division, highlighted in our first update (0545 GMT): "Amid a continued political controversy in Iran over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's first vice presidential pick, cabinet members engage in a verbal quarrel with the president over his insistence on the choice. The quarrel broke out at Wednesday's cabinet meeting between President Ahmadinejad and the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi."

0845 GMT: Meanwhile, Another Fight in the Assembly of Experts. Conservative members such as Ayatollahs Mohammad Yazdi, Jannati, and Mesbah Yazdi have released a statement reminding the public of their obligation to the Supreme Leader. More importantly, at least for the short-term political struggle, they restate that members are trying to replace Rafsanjani from his position as head of the Assembly.

The statement, aired by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, has been issued in the name of all 86 members of the Assembly, even though it has only been signed by only 16.

0835 GMT: A bit of mischief from Javan, the newspaper linked to the Revolutionary Guard, which claims (without sources) "that an effort is being made to confront Ahmadinejad's inauguration with an alternative Parliament...coordinated between radical reformists and anti-Rahim-Mashai [the First Vice President] conservatives"

0815  GMT: We have just posted an analysis, by the Iranian columnist Mohammad Abtahi, of the developing battle between President Ahmadinejad and "conservatives" over his choice of the First Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

As we were editing this, news came in that Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami (who delivered a "hard-line" warning to the protest movement when he led Tehran prayers on 26 June) has declared the President's removal of Rahim-Mashai would show his loyalty to the Supreme Leader.

0750 GMT: Not-So-Social Media. A reader points us to the Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard. She has written, "URGENT: (July 22) THE PUBLICATION RIGHTS FOR THIS PAGE ARE BLOCKED! FACEBOOK !! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

0745 GMT: A Correction. The fatwa of Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi (0615 GMT) criticised the selection of the First Vice President rather than the inauguration of President Ahmadinejad.

0720 GMT: Regime Concession? A report this morning that Ayatollah Khameini has decided to pardon or reduce the sentences of some individuals that have been recently arrested.

0655 GMT: Perhaps the "power overload" protests against the regime are having an effect. Or perhaps the Iranian infrastructure is just buckling under economic and political tensions. There is a report that utility services in Tehran are unstable, with some facing blackouts of more than six hours.

0645 GMT: Video has been posted of the hunger strike in front of the United Nations, including prominent Iranian activists, expatriates and supporters, which began yesterday. The action will culminate on Saturday as part of a global "United for Iran Day".

0615 GMT: Make that 3 ayatollahs (see 0545 GMT) who have come out against the Government in the last 24 hours. Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, who is considered "conservative" in religious approach and had been labelled "neutral" in his post-election position, has denounced the choice of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai as First Vice President: "Installing such an individual is not legal and should he be installed by mistake the mistake should be remedied."

0545 GMT: A quieter but still significant start to the day, as the opposition began to lay foundations for a broader-based political challenge. As Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times summarises, "Increasingly, disparate reformists appear to be acting in concert, coordinating announcements and strategy." A lot of the attention is on Mir Hossein Mousavi's declaration that a new political front would be launched by the end of the week and his comments to journalists: "Power is always inclined to become absolute, and only people's movements can put a hold on this inclination."

Still, details are sketchy on how the political front would be organised and how it would pursue its objectives. (Indeed, the Los Angeles Times headline is misleading, missing the political dimension: "Iran opposition leader plans large-scale social movement.") This is also an issue that goes beyond "disparate reformists": the relationship of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and other "non-reformist" political and clerical leaders to the front is still to be seen.

So, the tangible story this morning is of more problems for the Government. Two more Ayatollahs took public stands against President Ahmadinejad (see yesterday's updates). Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani issued a fatwa denouncing the President's inauguaration while Ayatollah Dastgheib urged fellow clerics to support protestors, ""Using firearms and crude weapons against people and incarceration of the revolutionaries will never help safeguard Islam and the establishment."

Just as serious are the divisions within conservative ranks, furthered by Ahmadinejad's defiance of the Supreme Leader over the appointment of his First Vice President. Tabnak reports that a Cabinet meeting ended in a heated argument and profanity, as a debate between the President and Minister of Culture Hossein Safar-Harandi ended with the latter leaving the room.

Undeterred, Ahmadinejad criticized the interference of prominent individuals in the process of selecting Government officials. This indirect challenge to Ayatollah Khamenei prompted Minister of Inteligence Ejeie and the Minster of Labor to leave the meeting in protest.

And, although it may be tangential to the developments over the political front and within the Government, a sign also appeared that even the Supreme Leader could be challenged if the conflict escalates. Former Interior Minister Abdullah Nouri, compared Khamenei to the late Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi: "In the 1970s, nobody imagined that limited struggles would drive the shah out of the country."

The Latest from Iran (22 July): "The Pendulum Swings" Towards Opposition

The Latest from Iran (23 July): Preparing the Front

NEW Iran: Your Easy-to-Use Ayatollah Scorecard
NEW Iran: Playing the "National Security" Card
The Latest from Iran (21 July): The Lull in the Cycle of Protest
NEW Iran Video: The Protests Continue (21 July)

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IRAN GREEN1945 GMT: During a relatively slow period in Iran news, have been following an interesting discussion at Anonymous Iran, sparked by Josh Shahryar's "Green Brief": "they are well written and structured, and even better, they report from a "grass-root" level so that I'm able to get a better "feel" and emotional picture of what really is happening. However, does the method used in gathering this information hold up to established journalistic standards?"

1900 GMT: The Significance of the Event, not the Message. Mir-Hossein Moussavi said Wednesday that protests would continue until all demonstrators are released.

That is distinctive not because of the statement, which is merely a reiteration of what Mousavi said to families of detainees on Monday, but because of the audience. Mousavi was speaking to journalists, a significant relaxation of the restrictions put on his movements and access to media by the Iranian Government in recent weeks.

1525 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani, responding to questions from a "concerned person", has issued a fatwa regarding the inauguration of President Ahmadinejad
If the individual [claiming to be president] has attained his position  illegitimately and fraudulently, the inauguration ceremonies and investment of power done by the supreme leader will  are not sufficient to confer legitimacy [upon the aforementioned president] because [the act of] performing these ceremonies is not the main foundation upon which [presidential legitimacy is built upon] . These ceremonies can only invest power if the president has reached his position through an honest election process.

1245 GMT: More arrests...and more evidence that lawyers are being targeted, possibly to deter them from taking up the cases of detainees (see 1030 GMT). Lawyers Mohammad Reza Azimi and Mostafa Sha'bani have been detained.

1120 GMT: Another Ayatollah for Rafsanjani. Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastghaib has written an open letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani. Calling the former President "the old and loyal friend of the Departed Imam", Ayatollah Khomeini, Dastghaib says, "Your speech expressed all anxieties of many people of this land. all of them who are devout Shi'a muslims, and you pointed out their grievances. We saw violence acted on defenceless people, especially upon unversity students and faculty. [Everyone also saw] the filling up of prisons and brutal interogations."

Praising Rafsanjani's "reasonable suggestions to alleviate" the crisis, Dastghaid also declared, "I proclaim...using any kind of weapon ("warm" or "cold") or imposing confinement on the followers of these gentlemen [Mousavi, Karroubi and Rezaei] is equivalent to heresy....[Applying these methods] will not protect the establishment, and [these methods] are unacceptable for protecting Islam and the revolution. this behavior alienates people from Islam and the establishment."

Dastgheib concluded, "It is imperative for us [the Marjaa, upper-ranking clergy] to listen to the reasonable demands of the friends of the Imam [Khomeini] and the revolution such as Mssrs. Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rezaei, whom a very large number of people have voted for..... [This] will prevent any separation coming between us and the people."

1110 GMT: More on the battle between the Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad camps over "corruption" (0600 GMT). The Supreme Leader's representative in the Revolutionary Guard, Mojtaba Zolnour, claimed that Rafsanjani's brother donated approximately $5 million dollars (in Iranian currency) to the Presidential campaign of Mohsen Rezaei campaign. Mohammad Hashemi-Rafsanjani categorically stated, "We have not paid a penny to any campaign" and challenged the accusor to bring the allegations to court. The Rezaei camp, represented by Ali Ahmadi,  responded by  calling the charges "pure fabrication "and said, "Our budget is a thousand times smaller than Zolnour's favorite [Ahmadinejad]....If Zolnour can not either prove or withdraw his allegations we will take this case to court".

1045 GMT: Reports now emerging of plans for a rally by Mousavi and Karroubi supporters in Baharestan Square in front of the Iranian Parliament, on the day of President Ahmadinejad's inauguration (sometime between 2 and 6 August).

1030 GMT: Lots of Internet chatter about the fate of Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a human rights lawyer and founder of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi’s human rights group, who was arrested on 9 July. Dadkhah has now been charged with possession of two pistols and opium; his defenders believed he is being singled out to intimidate lawyers from representing detainees.

Dadkhah is the lawyer for Abdolfatah Soltani, another human rights lawyer, who was arrested on 16 June.

0730 GMT: Cracks in the Security Wall? As we reported yesterday, Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, is talking tough:
The security forces will stand in front of any individual of whatever rank that tries to disregard law....[These] individuals create crisis in order to grab power and are the same individuals that claim that they follow the ways of the revolution and Imam [Khomeini] but in fact disregard the principles of supreme leadership....If someone loses an election and then tries to nullify the results, he makes the whole election process useless.

Ahmadi-Moghaddam's deputy added, "The police will punish any illegal gathering."

In contrast the new head of the political-religious office of the Iranian Armed Forces, seems to have distanced the military from the conflict: "Today one of the reasons why the Iranian Armed forces are so popular is that it has refrained from entering the political fray.....Members of the armed forces should be the most well versed in political issues while they remain above the fray."

0715 GMT: Favourite entry from the "Green Brief" by Josh Shahryar on yesterday's demonstrations:
Many eyewitness accounts reported that some security forces would stop running after protesters and start cursing their superiors. Many complained of fatigue and were seen panting and telling protesters, “To just go and leave us alone.”

0620 GMT: So, Did the "Power Overload" Protest Work? After Tuesday night's attempt to black out the Iranian electrical grid by turning on appliances, an interesting announcement from the Tehran electricity authority: "Observe the correct pattern of electricity consumption especially in peak electricity consumption hours."

0615 GMT: Picking up on a story from Monday. Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, said that her brother has been detained for more than a month. It was widely known, soon after the elections, that members of Mousavi's family had been arrested, but Rahnavard's statement is the first direct confirmation of continued detention.

0600 GMT: More on growing Rafsanjani confidence and Ahmadinejad weakness. Rafsanjani's brother Mohammad Hashemi has said he will take court action over allegations of corruption against Rafsanjani made by the Supreme Leader's representative in the Revolutionary Guard.

Meanwhile a Presidential representative has complained that Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is not giving "fair" coverage to Ahmadinejad: "[IRIB was] not willing to communicate the heartfelt and emotional scenes" of the President's Thursday appearance in Mashaad.

0545 GMT: Our correspondent Mani posts on an another sign of shifting opinion:

It is interesting that the conservative-leaning Khabar Online is becoming more and more favourable to Mousavi, as it gives space and attention to his proposal for a political front, which "will be formed within a week". The news site states that "[all] reformist parties and groups and some conservative ones have shown interest in joining Mousavi's political front", although Mousavi "seems to be selective with regards to which groups he would like to include in this front".

Khabar Online received this news directly from Alireza Beheshti, one of Mousavi's chief advisors, who said, "By Thursday Mousavi will acknowledge the individuals advising him in forming this political front and will also [provide definitions] making this political front unique". The story reports that Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the Deputy Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament), has said, "In our meeting with Mousavi we told him that if he works the framework of law, we will support him....We are not joining his party but we will support his political activity that is within the framework of law." The "we" in this statement refers to Bahonar, Habibollah Asgharoladi and Yahya Ale-es-hagh, members of a conservative fraction of parliament who met with Mousavi a few weeks before.

(It should be added that Bahonar's manoeuvre is not an open challenge to the election but support of what he sees as a positive compromise. In another newspaper interview, he criticised Ahmadinejad: "He should not equate criticism with sabotage....No one has given his performance an A+." However, he also said, "Mousavi has a huge misconception that he has won....Mousavi asked us to nullify the elections and we refused.")

Khabaronline then reports on, and criticises the response of state-run media: "[In addition to their denuciations of Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi] government supporters are clamouring that the legal formation of a political front also requires official permission from the interior ministry....This clamor is just a red herring that diverts attention from the main issue: the fact that during the election the contemptuous treatment of the law led to a great unease and anxiety and that the people converging on Mousavi are the same ones that warned society of the dangers of this contempt."

0515 GMT: Tuesday was an unusual day. My morning update mentioned the possibility of an afternoon protest, coming one month after the big demonstrations of 20 June and the death of Neda Agha Soltan and 57 years after a protest for the nationalist Government of Mohammad Mossadegh, but did not make much of it. Almost every day brings chatter about a march, and there was no sign of endorsement for the gathering from any of the opposition leaders.

By late afternoon, however, it was clear that there had been far-from-unimportant marches. The numbers are uncertain, though even cautious news agencies were ready to say "thousands" rather than "hundreds". The security forces again prevented a single mass gathering, notably in 7 Tir Square.

However, the persistence and size of the demonstrations was significant enough to pick up widespread attention. CNN ran a dramatic report linking protests and alleged footage of Basiji firing at the crowd. For the first time in many days, BBC English took notice; indeed, their correspondent Jon Leyne, almost silent after his expulsion from Iran weeks ago, was declaring that "the pendulum had swung" again and that there must be major change in the Iranian system.

The BBC report is over-dramatic, at least at this point, but Tuesday was more than a sign that the story continues, especially with confirmation that sizable demonstrations have taken place outside Tehran. The public demonstrations needs to be set alongside, and indeed intertwined with the pressure within the system against not only President Ahmadinejad but also the Supreme Leader. The short but sharp response of Hashemi Rafsanjani,indirectly but clearly addressing Ayatollah Khomeini's attempt on Monday to intimidate the opposition leaders, should not be underestimated. The former President was not only endorsing protest but encouraging it.

In that context, it remains to be seen whether the Supreme Leader's continuing strategy to confront rather than compromise --- his Monday address should be set alongside his 19 June prayer speech, which will eventually either be seen as a defiant assertion of his power or one of the greatest blunders he has ever made --- will work. Meanwhile, President Ahmadinejad is looking not only foolish but foolhardy. He seems to have received no boost from his Thursday speech in Mashaad (see separate entry on the video dispute), which was overtaken by Rafsanjani's weekend trip to the city, and his manoeuvres in the choice and defence of his first Vice President have been clumsy. Perhaps more than clumsy --- having unsettled many of his own supporters, Ahmadinejad looks foolhardy in his resistance to Khamenei's call to let Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai go.