Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Assembly of Experts (5)


The Latest from Iran (24 June): Afternoon Violence

NEW Latest Video: Resistance and Violence (24 June)
NEW Iran: New Technology, New Protest, New System?
NEW Iran and Britain: Diplomatic Breakdown?
The Latest from Iran (23 June): Preparing for Thursday

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IRAN FLAG2030 GMT: Tehran Bureau, which has been doing sterling work through this crisis, comes through again. It has just posted an invaluable guide to the Assembly of Experts, the one Iranian body that has the power to name (and to remove) the Supreme Leaders. Notable in the article is the dissection of the politics of a key member, the pro-Ahmadinejad Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.

2025 GMT: A curious and, if true, troubling incident. It is alleged that 70 faculty members, having met with Mir Hossein Mousavi, were later arrested.

2015 GMT: An Interesting Development. The head of Iran's National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, is reported to have met former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohsen Rezaei. No word on the specific topics of discussion.

1805 GMT: Report that Ardeshir Amir Arjman, who is in charge of Mousavi campain's legal matters, has been arrested.

1755 GMT: More on the "Neda" Story. The Iranian state line, put out through the Islamic Republic News Agency, is that "The marksmen had mistaken [Neda Agha Soltan] for the sister of one of the Monafeghin who had been executed in the province of Mazandaran some time ago." The "Monafeghin" are also known as the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, which has carried out a campaign of bombings and assassinations against the Iranian Government since 1979.

Notwithstanding the curiosity that a relative of a dead terrorist is apparently under a death sentence in Iran, the story is one of many trying to absolve Iranian authorities of blame. Another version is that an "unknown gunman" targeted Neda to cause disruption and blacken the name of th Iranian establishment.

1750 GMT: Reuters is now reporting on the statement on Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi's website: "I do not accept the result and therefore consider as illegitimate the new government. Because of the irregularities, the vote should be annulled."

1745 GMT: The Guardian is reporting that authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.

1728 GMT: Press TV not reporting any violence. Instead, they are highlighting yesterday's IRIB inteview with Tehran's mayor, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf. Qalibaf  had urged relevant Iranian officials to authorize peaceful opposition rallies, saying the public should have an outlet to express its opinions. Legalizing street rallies, he reasoned, would prevent 'saboteurs who draw weapons and kill people'.

1713 GMT: BBC website very slow/cautious to react- only now breaking the news of today's violence (and still nothing on main page)

1625 GMT: The Guardian's Washington bureau chief Ewen Macaskill reports that President Barack Obama appears to have sent a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month, ahead of its disputed election, calling for an improvement in relations.

1610 GMT: Twiitter update of the day from "Breaking News" - "JUST IN -- Iranian state television: Security forces broke up two protests, one of 200 and one of 50 people, but no violence reported

1606 GMT: From CNN “They were waiting for us,” the source said. “They all have guns and riot uniforms. It was like a mouse trap.”

1601 GMT: Via Twitter "Lalezar Sq same as Baharestan, unbelevable, ppls murdered everywhere... everybody under arrest & cant move"

1548 GMT: Via Twitter "In Baharestan we saw militia with axe choping ppl like meat - blood everywhere - like butcher - Allah Akbar"

1547 GMT: Iran witness to CNN: "Many people with broken arms, legs, heads -- blood everywhere -- pepper gas like war"

1545 GMT: Stream of reports via Twitter and to CNN that protesters are beaten beaten outside Iran Parliament building. Unconfirmed reports of gunfire.

1500 GMT: Al Arabiya is reporting the death of a female protester at Bahraestan Square.

Press TV is ignoring the demonstration, focusing on the Supreme Leader's call today for "law and order" and the claims of the Ministry of Interior that it found documents proving "certain foreign ministries" were behind the opposition to the election result. However, its third item is that "post-election unrest has killed 20 people, including eight Basij members", all of whom --- according to "inside sources" --- were killed by gunfire.

1445 GMT: Andrew Sullivan's running blog has posted a set of Twitter comments on today's gathering in Baharestan Square in front of the Iranian Parliament building: "I see many ppl with broken arms/legs/heads - blood everywhere - pepper gas like war...Ppl run into alleys and militia standing there waiting - from 2 sides they attack ppl in middle of alleys...saw 7/8 militia beating one woman with baton on ground - she had no defense nothing -... So many ppl arrested - young & old - they take ppl away....Just in from Baharestan Sq - situation today is terrible - they beat the ppls like animals....Ppl gathered in Baharestan but police & plain cloths don’t let the core of the rally to form."

1205 GMT: Start time of demonstrations was revised to 4:30 p.m. local time (1200 GMT), according to Mehdi Karroubi's Facebook page.

1150 GMT: No word yet about today's demonstrations. The Ministry of the Interior continues to hammer away at the line that Britain, the US, and Israel are behind the protests, with the US Central Intelligence Agency providing funding. Some of those detained are "confirmed" as agents of foreign governments.

1145 GMT: There is an intriguing report that President Ahmadinejad met last night with "some well-known" members of Parliament, who offers their congratulations on his victory. The intriguing part is that among those who did not attend was the Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani.

1030 GMT: The BBC reports the latest statement from the Supreme Leader: "I had insisted and will insist on implementing the law on the election issue....Neither the establishment nor the nation will yield to pressure at any cost."

1025 GMT: Indications, just over an hour before they are scheduled to begin, that this afternoon's protests in Tehran will take place not only in front of Parliament but in five other locations: the Vali-e Asr, Enghelab, Vanak, Tajrish, Sadehgieh streets and squares.

0935 GMT: In a sharp, effective analysis, Tehran Bureau considers "how Mr. Mousavi and the reformists should go forward". Noting the issues that we're pondering, such as the tension within the Government and "conservative" ranks, and warning against "large-scale violence", the article concludes:
The best strategy for developing the coalition is, therefore, a campaign focused on a narrow goal that is achievable, but also one that opens the door for making deeper and more meaningful changes to the current system. At present this goal is the annulment of the election and holding a new one monitored by objective and neutral observers. If that goal is achieved, that itself will be a great setback for the hard-liners and supporters of Mr. Ahmadinejad.

0855 GMT: Human Rights Watch has released a statement pointing to the appointment of "a notoriously abusive Iranian prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi" to oversee the investigation of detainees as a sign "that the authorities are preparing to bring trumped-up charges against its opponents".

0820 GMT: Claims that some detainees have been released from Evin Prison, but authorities are concentrating on holding students.

0815 GMT: BBC Persian Service is reporting that four members of the Iranian national football team have been "retired" after wearing green wristbands in their recent World Cup qualifying match with South Korea.

0800 GMT: Engagement Suspended. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has offered the first substantial sign of the effect of the political crisis on US-Iran relations. He will not be going to Italy for discussions on the situation in Afghanistan, a vital arena for co-operation between Washington and Tehran.

0635 GMT: The Rezaei shift continues: his website is claiming that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has not gone to Qom to lobby for the support of clerics against the Khamenei-Guardian Council position.

0630 GMT: Press TV English has now broken its Iran silence, venturing to mention the Guardian Council's five-day extension and the Rezaei withdrawal of his complaint because of "the political and security interests of the nation".

Morning Update 0530 GMT: After a Tuesday when there was less open protest but a lot of movement behind the scenes in Iran, as well as the high-profile statement from President Obama, a slower start to today.

CNN features Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi's open letter criticising Iranian media and charging, ""You know well that those who support Mr. Ahmadinejad's government today are promoters of fanatic and Taliban-like Islam." It also notes the Guardian Council's five-day extension of the recount but gives far less attention to former President Khatami's "action plan".

Unsurprisingly, state-run Press TV's website plays up the good news that, after the Guardian Council's extension, Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei has withdrawn his complaint about vote fraud. It also has a notable story that a "headquarters" for the planning of unrest has been discovered by Iranian security forces. Activity in the building on 7 Tir Square, ostensibly used for the Mir Hossein Mousavi campaign, proves the intervention of "foreign elements". (There continues to be a shutdown on Press TV English's broadcasts on any news concerning Iran.)

(The story should be matched up with reports that there was a major raid Tuesday on the pro-Mousavi newspaper Kamaleh with approximately 25 staff arrested.)

On the streets, there are no reports yet of any "surging" of the Bazaar, as the Khatami actino plan advocates. As with previous days, it is late afternoon (4 p.m. local time) when key public events may start, in this case, a rally in front of the Iranian Parliament building. Information is still getting through from Iran via Twitter and e-mail, but there has been a sharp drop in video (although we've just picked up apparent footage of yesterday's protests) and still images. E-mail correspondents are also often guarded in their comments, given the possibility of Government surveillance.

Behind the scenes, where there was much to consider on Tuesday (see yesterday's set of stories), manoeuvres continues both between the opposition and Government camps and within the Government's ranks (for a guide, see in particular the 23 June story, "Khamenei v. Rafsanjani?", and the subsequent comments). We've received new information overnight and will be evaluating it later today.

The Latest from Iran (21 June): Does the Fight Continue?

The Latest from Iran (22 June): Waiting for the Next Move

NEW Iran: Can Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani Prompt a Solution?
NEW Text: Mohammad Khatami Statement (21 June)
LATEST Video: The “Neda” Protests (20-21 June)
ARCHIVE Video: The Protests in and Beyond Tehran (12-18 June)
The Latest from Iran (20 June): From Rally to Street Fighting

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IRAN DEMOS 92040 GMT: One of the latest postings on Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook site: "You have the legal right to protest lies and frauds." A full statement is promised on Mousavi's website.

2005 GMT: Reports that Fazaeh Hashemi, daughter of former President Rafsanjani, has been released from police custody.

1900 GMT: Protests and Arrests. Reports that cries of "God is Great" and "Death to the Dictator" from Tehran rooftops are even louder this evening. Lara Setrakian 0f ABC News (US) writes that all "first- and second-level Mousavi advisors and workers" have been arrested and Mousavi is not allowed to speak to journalists.

1800 GMT: We've just published an analysis on Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani's political manoeuvres and whether they might foster a political solution.

1705 GMT: Four members of former President Rafsanjani's family have been released from police custory, but his daughter Faezeh (see 1325 GMT) is still detained.

1700 GMT: Today's pattern, on the lines that we set out this morning (0715 GMT), appears to be of the Iranian authorities getting a "breathing space" by putting a heavy security presence on the streets and in the squares and of the opposition movement considering its next move.

Correspondents inside Iran write of security personnel and paramilitary Basiji in large numbers in Tehran and other cities. Arrests of "reformist" activists and journalists continue, with latest news of detentions of members of the Islamic Participation Front.

There is, however, news of a "sit-in" of up to 10,000 people on Gisha Street in north Tehran.

1445 GMT: A disturbing claim from an activist via Twiter: "Ghalamsnews asks for those injured in recent violence to leave their names and contact number."

This should be considered in conjunction with the claim of the Mousavi campaign, publicised on their Facebook page (see 1335 GMT), that Ghalam News, which had been their website, had been hacked and might now be controlled by others. The possibility is that the message now up on the site is a trap to lure and detain protesters.

1345 GMT: Reports of demonstrators gathering in Vali-e Asr Street, Engelab Square, and Baharaestan.

1335 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page is buzzing with information, such as "GHALAMNEWS, the main Newsagency of Mir Hossein Mousavi seems to be hacked". Reports also indicate that Mousavi is asking for volunteers with professional management experience to join his effort.

While I can't be certain, my memory of the numbers indicate Mousavi's pages has added 12,000 supporters in the last few days, taking the current total beyond 80,000.

1325 GMT: More on the move against the family of former President Rafsanjani (0935 GMT). Five members have been detained; it is unclear how many, although Iranian activists have listed Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh and his granddaughter. The Fars News Agency claim they have been held to protect her against assassination attempts.

Faezeh Rafsanjani is a former member of the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament. She spoke at a Tehran rally last Tuesday.

1315 GMT: Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, possibly the strongest supporter of the Supreme Leader and President Ahmadinejad in the clerical establishment, has declared that the establishment has no duty to convince Mousavi of the election's results (text in Farsi).

Ayatollah Yazdi is a member of the Guardian Council. He also, as a reader posted out in an important comment this morning (#2 below), is the leader of the Assembly of Experts: we reported yesterday that the Assembly had supported the Supreme Leader's Friday address, 24 hours before it was delivered, but Yazdi's was the only signature.

1240 GMT: Ayatollah Montazeri, the former successor to Ayatollah Khomeini but now under house arrest, has calle for three days' mourning for slain protestors.

1225 GMT: Summaries of former President Khatami's statement have appeared. Warning of the "dangerous" consequences of banning public demonstrations, he has argued that the Law and Constitution must be respected: "The people are the Government."

Latest reports of arrests: activist Shahab Talebani, newspaper editor Mohammad Ghoochani, National Front Party memberKourosh Za'eem.

BBC correspondent Jon Leyne has reportedly been ordered to leave the country.

1050 GMT: Ahmadinejad appears! Iran State News Agency is carrying the President's statement, "tell[ing] U.S and Britain to stop interfering in Iran's internal affairs".

Former President Khatami has also issued a statement about yesterday's events --- we are looking for an English translation.

1045 GMT: The Autobus Workers Union of Iran (Sendikaye Sherkat Vahed) has issued a declaration, asking that 26 June be a day "to ask all our fellow workers to struggle for the trampled rights of the majority of the people of Iran".

1040 GMT: CNN correspondent claims that final examinations at Azad University indefinitely postponed after 200 students refused to take them.

1010 GMT: An interesting move, either by Speaker of the Parliament Larijani or by State authorities representing his position. Balancing his internal criticism of the Government (see 0745 GMT), Larijani "has called for ties with Britain, France and Germany to be reconsidered in view of their 'shameful' statements". According to State media, Larijani mades the comments in a speech to the Iranian Parliament, the Majlis.

Shrewd readers of Iranian politics will note that, while Larijani also called US remarks "shameful", he did not call for a reconsideration of Iran's relations with Washington.

1000 GMT: State media is now taking the line of 10 deaths in yesterday's violence, all of them caused by "hooligans".

0935 GMT: CNN correspondent reports, "Faezeh Rafsanjani, daughter of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was arrested Sat[urday] in Tehran, her brother said."

0925 GMT: Iran State media has now withdrawn the claim of "several" killed in the mosque fire yesterday.

0900 GMT: A bit of house-keeping: our video page was becoming overloading. It's now been split into Latest Video (the "Neda" videos of 20 June) and Archive Video.

0835 GMT: Definitely a State counter-attack in the media through allegations of extremism/terrorism. Latest claimed assaults are upon two petrol/gas stations and a military post.

(Press TV's website is lagging behind the campaign, however. Its main headline still is, "Calm Returns to Tehran Streets".)

0820 GMT: Sky News passes on the latest line from Iran's state media: "several people" killed by demonstrators in an attack on a Tehran mosque yesterday (see yesterday's update for initial references to the incident).

0757 GMT: Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has been brought out to give a lengthy, standard defence of the Presidential vote: it was well-organised, there is no chance of systematic fraud/vote-rigging, Western powers should not interfere/criticise, etc.

The statement is not nearly as significant as this question: where is President Ahmadinejad?
0755 GMT: We're just posting a new video of a claimed Saturday night attack on a Basiji headquarters.

0745 GMT: A political development, which depending on events may have lasting significance, that I missed yesterday. Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani told Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), "“Although the Guardian Council is made up of religious individuals, I wish certain members would not side with a certain presidential candidate."

Larijani's comment not only struck at the unnamed President Ahmadinejad but also challenged Iran's legislature-court of last resort as it supposedly recounted part of the Presidential vote. He has enough status, not only as head of the Parliament but as a former head of the National Security Council, to mobilise opposition "within" the system as demonstrations continue outside it. It also would be useful to know if he has been in contact with another potential challenger, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.H

Unlike other criticisms that were suppressed Saturday, Larijani's comments were reported on Press TV and the website Khabaronline. (It should also be noted that, during the week, Larijani pressed for and got a nominal Ministry of Interior investigation of the raids by security forces on Tehran University that allegedly killed up to five people.)

0735 GMT: Today "Neda" may become the symbolic label and image for a movement that is verging on revolution, rather than reform.

"Neda" (the name means voice or message of the divine) was far more than a symbol; apparently she was the woman shot and killed in cold blood by a paramilitary Basiji yesterday as, with her father, she watched the demonstrations. The graphic 40-second video of her death (which is posted, albeit on the "More" page) soon represented the violence and tragedy of yesterday's clashes. Within hours, Iranian activists on Twitter, who had begin using the tag #GR88 (Green 88), also adopted #Neda as the powerful shorthand for their cause.

Morning Update 0715 GMT: Apologies for the later start today --- we're still recovering from the intensity of events yesterday and a very late night.

This has the feeling of a "regrouping" morning, as both the Government and the opposition campaigns assess the marches, the violence, and the political situation. Our immediate reaction is that yesterday was a "score draw". The Supreme Leader and security forces struck first by ensuring there could be no single, large, organised gathering at Enqelab (Revolution) Square, while the Guardian Council fending off the pressure for a meaningful reconsideration of the vote. The opposition challenge rallied, however, both because of the persistence of demonstrators, now scattered throughout the city, and because of a single event: the appearance of Mir Hossein Mousavi at a large rally in Jeyhoon Street.

None of this assessment, however, should overshadow the tragedy of yesterday. The "confirmed" casualty count, based on hospital sources, is 19 dead, but the actual total may be far higher. There were hours of beatings, tear gassings, and panic, as security forces and paramilitary Basiji tried not only to disrupt a major rally but to crush resistance (supported by the effective blackout on media). This may have been supported by a deliberate effort to show the "terrorism" of the opposition through a staged or exaggerated proclamation of an attack at Ayatollah Khamenei's mausoleum.

The Latest from Iran (20 June): From Rally to Street Fighting

NEW Video and Transcipt: The Moment of Truth?  Mousavi's Speech at Saturday’s Protests
NEW Iran: EA’s Chris Emery in The Guardian on Khamenei and Mousavi
Iran: An Iranian Live-Blogs the Supreme Leader’s Speech
Twittering Iran: What the “New Media” Means for Politics, Protest, and Democracy
The Latest from Iran (19 June): Speeches and Rallies

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IRAN DEMOS 82350 GMT: An Iranian activist claims, based on this posting in Farsi, that the Assembly of Experts' letter backing the Supreme Leader was issued a day before his Friday address. That would be more evidence of a systematic effort to rally the clerics behind Ayatollah Khamenei, rebuffing Hashemi Rafsanjani.

2152 GMT: CNN, based on Iranian hospital sources, is reporting at least 19 people died in today's violence. The unconfirmed death toll is as high as 150.

2150 GMT: More from the activist who was at today's marches (see 2110 GMT): "All routes to Azady square were blocked & if anyone stopped walking or walking slow [security forces] hit him/her brutally. There was no safe path, people were walking in cycles between all variety of security forces. I think they made fun of people, don't go here, go this way, not that way & for no apparent reason suddenly attacking random people. We tried our best using all known shortcuts for reaching Azady SQ where Mousavi was, but ended up in face to face with IRG [Republican Guard]. They weren't just the ordinary police or motorcycle riot guard, they were soldiers holding MP5 supported by reinforced military cars. We didn't realize for a moment they started shooting at people, the gun's sound was like a toy gun, not loud & the soliders were smiling. I was going to tell Masood they are using fake guns for scaring people! until people started screaming in agony. We ran as fast as we could in the opposite direction, at the same time Basiji bastards started to hit fleeing people. I think I saw 2 or 3 people lying on the ground in blood & IRG started to move them, probably hide them."

2140 GMT: We've posted the English translation of this afternoon's speech by Mir Hossein Mousavi.

2110 GMT: One of the most prominent activists on Twitter has returned from today's marches with this report, "It was a nightmare, I can barely breath & my face is burning, Masood got shot in the arm & Shayan's brother is missing. I don't know where to start with, first they attack our peaecful memorial gathering in front of the university with water gun.The university's doors were closed, we couldn't run everywhere! & then they start shooting tear gas at us. they were so many! riot police, normal police, intel, IRG [Republican Guard], Basij! I managed to scape, but they captured so many people."

2105 GMT: An Iranian activist asks on Twitter, "Why are Rafsanjani and Khatami so silent?" Indeed, apart from Ayatollah Montazeri with his general letter this morning, has any "establishment" figure come out alongside Mousavi with the demonstrators today?

2055 GMT: Twitter sources say that this Mehr News page (in Farsi) summarises the support of the Assembly of Experts for the Supreme Leader's Friday statement. This in turn indicates that the initial attempt of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to mobilise the Assembly against the election outcome has fizzled out.

2050 GMT: Latest reported arrest is of Mohsen Mirdamadi, the head of the pro-reform Islamic Iran Participation Front.

2005 GMT: Reported arrests throughout the day in Iran, including editors, Mousavi campaign workers, and journalists. The latest reported detainee is Jila Bani Yaghoub, journalist and women's rights activist.

1915 GMT: A few hours ago, we posted a video of a woman "badly injured" by a gunshot in today's demonstrations. The footage is so graphic that we have moved to the "jump page" after the More... tag.

I have just read more information on The New York Times blog about the incident. The woman was a bystander watching events; according to a doctor who witnessed the event, a paramilitary Basiji deliberately fired at her chest. She died within moments of the shooting.

1905 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports, "Hospital close to the scene in Tehran: 30-40 dead thus far as of 11pm and 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured."

1900 GMT: Press TV continuing to lead with "police usedbatons, water cannons, and tear gas on protesters", over images of a burning bus in the centre of a Tehran boulevard. It adds, "Reports say clashes are continuing" and "several people have been injured".

Press TV continues to declare " a terrorist attack" at Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum although casualty figures have been revised downward to the dead assailant and three injured. No supporting footage is provided.

1835 GMT: President Obama has just released this statement on Iran:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

1810 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports, "WHOLE city is shaking with very loud screams from rooftops. Their loud voices calling only for God is filled with fear, hatred, and hope." Lara Satrakian of ABC News: ""People are very angry…they are screaming like a banshee…this ain't aloha [sic] akbar anymore."

"Explosive" shouting also reported in Mashaad.

1755 GMT: Reports of loud shouts of "God is Great" from Tehran rooftops.

Reports of clashes with paramilitary Basiji at Haft Hooz Square. Further claims that demonstrators set fire to a mosque in Tehran and also set alight a bus and several motorcycles.

1745 GMT: The UK's Sky News is currently showing footage of protesters in Tehran seemingly being kicked and beaten. They are streaming a small amount of footage on their frontpage. You may also be able to see the footage by clicking 'Video News Headlines' or 'Watch Sky News Live' in the right-hand bar of their main story.

1725 GMT: The English translation of a  letter purportedly from Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, the designated successor Ayatollah Khomeini before falling out of favour in 1998, has been posted: "A legitimate state must respect all points of view. It may not oppress critical views. I fear that this will lead to the loss of people’s faith in Islam."

1720 GMT: Reports that IRIB 1 [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] now broadcasting "confessions" from detained protesters.

Also reports that people are blocking streets in east Tehran and setting fires.

1650 GMT: Claims now of fighting in Tehran, Shiraz, Rasht, Tabriz, Ahwaz, and Isfahan.

1645 GMT: We've posted a video which purports to be of Mir Hossein Mousavi addressing a rally in Jeyhoon Street in Tehran this afternoon. If verified, this could be footage of a key point in the development of this crisis.

1600 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page has been updated three times in Farsi in the last hour. We're seeking a translation.

1543 GMT: Claims that, in his speech, Mousavi declared the Presidential election "null and void". Claims also that he cast shame upon the Government and declared that he is ready for martyrdom.

1540 GMT: Eyewitness reports, via The New York Times blog, confirm fighting in Shiraz.

1530 GMT: Reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi is now addressing a crowd in Jeyhoon Street, beginning his speech, "We all go back to God."

1525 GMT: Reports of heavy fighting in Khosh St. and claims of shot protester as security forces dispersed people in Khargar Street. Claims that many people are trapped in Azadi Square.

Also reports of fighting in a 2nd city, Shiraz.

1520 GMT: CNN, whose reporters in Tehran are not allow to broadcast without permission of Iranian officials, are going to great lengths to cast scepticism on Press TV's report of the bombing at Ayatollah Khomeini's mosque. At the same time, to offer some coverage, they are playing portions of Press TV English's broadcast.

1505 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports clashes across Tehran, including Vali-e Asr Street, and gunfire and sirens around Tohid Square. It also reports protesters gathering at Vanak Square in north Tehran. There are unverified reports of one demonstrator killed at the crossing of Vali-e Asr Street and Enqelhab Square, and 20 injured protesters transferred to Loghman Hospital in 30 minutes.

There are reports that Mousavi supporters set fire to an Ahmadinejad headquarters.

Tehran Bureau: "The city is boiling over. It's a mess."

1500 GMT: Press TV's hourly lead: "Police have used batons and water cannons to disperse protestors in central Tehran who gathered to hold an illegal rally. Reports say sporadic clashes are continuing....Two helicopters have been seen hovering over the area....Police say a week of protests in the capital have injured 400 forces and done a great deal of damage to public property."

In what is likely to be a significant line, Press TV also emphasized that the Assembly of Combatant Clerics (associated with former President Khatami) had called off the rally after the Ministry of Interior refused a permit. And the station is repeating the morning statement of police commanders that Mir Hossein Mousavi will be responsible for any violence.

Press TV says three people, including the bomber, and eight were injured in the "terrorist" attack on Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum in southern Tehran.

1450 GMT: We've posted latest video of the clashes in Azadi Square and off Engelab Square, including BBC footage of shooting, fires, and clashes.

1430 GMT: We're back with the following. The bombing at Ayatollah Khomeini's shrine was reportedly caused by a suicide bomber.

Eyewitnesses reported about 20,000 riot police surround Enqelab Square, armed with rifles, water cannon, and tear gas. Dozens of people were reportedly beaten to force them to leave the square, with security forces reportedly beating passing motorcyclists and even those just passing by. Some demonstrators took refuge in Tehran University.

1325 GMT: We're off to check out some reports. Back just after 1400 GMT.

1317 GMT: Press TV reporting two blasts at Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum, with two hurt (Fars News says one dead). Reports that police have closed off Tehran University.

1310 GMT: Twitter report: "In Khosh Street police is attacking people with batons & pepper spray trying to disperse people, shots can be heard around Azadi [Square]."

1300 GMT: Reports of security forces trying to prevent people assembling, chasing them into alleys and allegedly using batons. Demonstrators reportedly trapped between Behboodi and Enqelab Squares.

Reports of gunshots being fired into the air, possibly as warnings. Also reports of tear gas and water cannon being used.

1240 GMT: First pictures coming through from today's march: riot police around square (left).

1230 GMT: Associated Press reports entrance to Revolution (Enqelab) Square blocked by fire engines, with riot police surrounding Tehran University.

1213 GMT: Classic state-run double-speak on Press TV's website. It is still not mentioning today's march. Instead, its story is of the National Security Council warning Mir Hossein Mousavi "against 'the consequences' of backing street rallies". The picture? A very large rally.

1203 GMT: Unconfirmed report "from usually reliable source" to The Guardian of London that Mousavi walking with 10,000 supporters from his party office.

1200 GMT: Witness reports (albeit from before 1130 GMT) that riot police cutting off access to gathering point for march.

1150 GMT: First reports of clashes, with beating of demonstrators near Azadi Square.

1133 GMT: First reports of the march: large numbers gathering, no action by police. Cellphones in area reportedly disconnected.

1107 GMT: Al Jazeera English and Twitter sources report heavy presence of riot police on both sides of Enqelab Square.

1103 GMT: It's On! This message was posted 20 minutes ago on the Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi: "The CRUCIAL Demonstration on Saturday 16:00 in Tehran and all around the world, please spread this message around."

1100 GMT: From one of the most useful Iranian sources on Twitter: "To Western Media: Stop sharing false information given to you by Iranian state television. The demonstration will GO ON. It is NOT canceled."

1045 GMT: As we wait for developments, some interesting thoughts from Gary Sick, one of the foremost US experts on Iran, on the Supreme Leader's address, Mousavi's position, and President Obama's strategy on his blog.

1030 GMT: One hour to the scheduled start of the march. Still awaiting statement by Mir Hossein Moussavi. Reuters reports the statement of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad-e Melli party, "Because permission was not obtained, the rally today has been cancelled."

1000 GMT: Press TV English interviews Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi of Tehran University (and a past contributor to Enduring America) about "reports here and there of protests today in Tehran": "Wouldn't this be some kind of defiance of the Supreme Leader's call for calm and peace?"

Marandi replies about "one of the things important things the Leader said yesterday and what most people believe": "It's very hard to imagine vote-rigging where 11 million votes have been manipulated....It's virtually impossible to do that." He criticises Mousavi and Karroubi for their absence from this morning's Guardian Council meeting. "All sides should calm down a bit....Shopowners and ordinary people on the streets want calm. Demonstrations on the part of any candidate...[are] irresponsible."

0930 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that Guardian Council, after its meeting with campaigns this morning, says it will conduct a random recount of "up to 10 percent" of ballot boxes from last Friday.

0907 GMT: Events moving fast. Questions now as pro-Mousavi website (text in Farsi) has announces the withdrawal of support from the Assocation of Combatant Clerics for the rally.

(It should be noted that withdrawals of support also happened on Monday, but in end Mousavi --- who had supposedly backed away from the protest --- appeared at gathering of hundreds of thousands.)

0903 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports from Iran state media that main reformist cleric body, the Association of Combatant Clerics, which includes former President Khatami, say they do not sanction this afternoon's rally.

News agencies are reporting an "important" statement from Mir Hossein Mousavi soon. Al Jazeera also passes on reports that Parliamentary committees are meeting with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to ask him to take a "greater role" in resolving the crisis.

0900 GMT: A clue to the day? Press TV English reports that Mohsen Rezaie attended this morning's meeting with the Guardian Council but Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi did not appear.

0850 GMT: Juan Cole has posted his analysis of the Supreme Leader's Friday address: "The real question is whether this is 1963, when the shah managed to put down a rebellion led by Ruhollah Khomeini, or whether it is 1978-79, when he failed to do so. The answer lies in the depth of support for the protests among the population, and in the stance of the various armed forces toward the latter."

0830 GMT: Reuters, via Iran's Fars News Agency, quotes an Iranian police commander that his forces will deal firmly with "illegal" rallies "beginning today".

0800 GMT: An aide to Mehdi Karroubi has told Agence France Presse that the rally will go ahead.

0705 GMT: There is an intriguing story on Press TV's English website, indicating both that the "inaccuracies" in last Friday's vote may be far greater than the outside figure of "1 million" in "mistakes" cited by the Supreme Leader yesterday and that challenges to the system are coming from candidates across the board, not just Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Presidential challenger Mohsen Rezaei is claiming that he received 3.5 to 7 million votes in last Friday's elections (official returns gave him less than 700,000). A spokesman of the Guardian Council "cautioned" Rezaei against "agitating public opinion".

0700 GMT: Press TV English is making no reference to today's march. Instead, it is still focusing on the Supreme Leader's address from almost 24 hours ago and saying that the National Security Council is "holding Mousavi responsible" for any violence from "unauthorised protest rallies".

The NSC also said that "a network" of agitators responsible to "foreign powers" has been carrying out violence.

0655 GMT: Meanwhile, we are waiting to hear the outcome of a meeting that could have a significant influence on developments. The Guardian Council is seeing representatives of all four Presidential campaigns about the 646 official complaints over the election. On Tuesday, when the Council agreed to hold at least a partial recount, it said the process would take 7 to 10 days.

Morning Update 0630 GMT (1100 Tehran): Five hours before the scheduled start of today's major rally, in Enqelab Square in Tehran, and there are still conflicting stories as to whether it will go ahead. Reuters is still quoting "an ally" of Mousavi who spoke to them yesterday, "Mousavi has no plans to hold a rally tomorrow (Saturday) or the day after tomorrow."

However, Twitter sources inside Iran who have proven reliable continue to publicise the march, quoting former President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami's Facebook page continues to carry the announcement, posted last night, that the demonstration will take place, with Khatami and Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in attendance.

My guess, following the excellent analysis of Chris Emery yesterday, is that the march proceeds.

The Latest from Iran (19 June): Speeches and Rallies

Iran: The 7 Lessons of the Supreme Leader’s Address
Iran: Live Blog of Supreme Leader's Address (19 June)
NEW Transcript: Ayatollah Khamenei’s Speech at Prayers (19 June)
NEW Video: Obama Statement on Iran (19 June)
Latest Video: The Protests in and Beyond Tehran
Iran Eyewitness: The Wednesday and Thursday Demonstrations in Tehran
Iran Eyewitness: More Audio from “Alive in Tehran”
Text: Mousavi Speech to Tehran Rally (18 June)

The Latest from Iran (18 June): From Green to "A Sea of Black"

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KHAMENEI2003 GMT: From former President Mohammad Khatami's Facebook page: "Please join Mousavi, Khatami and Karoubi tomorrow at 4pm from Enghelab Sq. to Azadi Sq. in Tehran for a crucial green protest."

2000 GMT: We've posted the video of President Obama's latest statement on Iran.

1955 GMT: The US Senate has followed the House of Representatives in a resolution supporting Iranian citizens espousing "the values of freedom".

1940 GMT: Reports that residents in Tehran again took to their rooftops tonight to shout, "God is Great" and "Death to the Dictator", despite the warning in Ayatollah Khamenei's address at Friday prayers.

1845 GMT: The US House Representatives has passed, by a 405-1 vote, the following 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.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas cast the lone No vote.

1725 GMT: We've just posted a rough English-translation transcript of the Supreme Leader's speech.

1525 GMT: We've just posted Chris Emery's snap analysis of the Supreme Leader's speech, "7 Lessons".

1330 GMT: The Ministry of the Interior has turned down the application for a permit for Saturday's 4 p.m. march at Enqelab Square.

1300 GMT: Press TV English is focusing on the Supreme Leader's criticism of "Western countries" and "Western media" in his speech today calling for an end to "illegal rallies".This includes Khameini's misrepresentation of President Obama's statement this week: "The US President [said] Washington had been waiting for people to take to the streets."

Press TV English is also reproting on a "massive rally" by worshipers denouncing the West and expressing "their readiness to defend the achievements of the Islamic revolution".

1240 GMT: The Clerical Challenge? Today's Washington Times offers further details on Hashemi Rafsanjani's attempt to rally clerics against the electoral outcome: "Three grand ayatollahs have responded, but they are the same three who have gone on the record in the past denouncing government policies to little effect." They are Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who at one time was the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini but is now under effective house arrest, Ayatollah Yusef al-Sa'nei, and Ayatollah Mousavi Ardabili. According to the paper, "The dozen or so other senior clerics in Qom are doing little."

The report relies on Mehdi Khalaji, who is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and has been a strident critic of the Iranian Government, but it does correspond with other information we have received.

1200 GMT: The opposition campaign has made an immediate response to Ayatollah Khamenei's challenge. According to reliable Twitter sources, there will be a rally at 4 p.m. local time in Enqelab Square. Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and former President Mohammad Khatami will attend.

1005 GMT: And not too difficult to read the next critical step. Do the opposition campaigns and their supporters, given the Supreme Leader's threats against any new marches, stand down their plans to demonstrate tomorrow?

That decision will be made not only in response to today's speech but in response to the Guardian Council's meeting with representatives of Presidential campaigns tomorrow.

0953 GMT: Not too difficult to give an immediate reading of the Supreme Leader's address: he laid down the line to those challenging last Friday's election results. He declared that the outcome was final, indicating that any adjustment of "mistakes" would be far less than the 11-million vote lead of President Ahmadinejad. While not blaming the leader of opposition campaigns for violence, he said they would be "responsible" for "terrorist plots" carried out under cover of the demonstrations.

Khamenei's attacks on "Western interference" had a dual purpose. He was warning off other countries, especially the US (note the direct reference to President Obama's relatively mild statements about the demonstrations), from any intervention. At the same, he was using that pretext of "intervention" to mobilise support for the re-election of President Ahmadinejad.

And there was also a challenge to former President Rafsanjani to cease and desist in his own attempts to challenge Ahmadinejad and, by implication, the Supreme Leader. I may have immediately mis-heard/mis-interpreted Khamenei's references to Rafsanjani and "corruption" --- analysts are saying that the Supreme Leader was not targeting Rafsanjani's allegations of corruption against Ahmadinejad; instead, Khamenei was offering a conciliatory hand by chiding the President's allegations against Rafsanjani --- the final statement was definitive: "I am closer to the President's views."

0945 GMT: We've moved the live blog of Supreme Leader's address to a separate entry.

0815 GMT: In Britain, Al Jazeera is giving a English translation of the Supreme Leader's address. CNN is carrying out a commentary, while Sky News is taking the Press TV English feed.

0810 GMT: The Supreme Leader has now appeared in the square, which is opposite Tehran University.

0805 GMT: Press TV English is providing live coverage of Friday prayers, with a large crowd awaiting the Supreme Leader. Their current commentary is defending the recent silence of President Ahmadinejad and his advisors, as the "powerful bodies" of the Assembly of Experts, Expediency Council, and Ministry of the Interior are making the necessary statements. Their analyst, Nader Mokhtari, is praising "a tribute to the strength of Iranian democracy that allows people to go out and voice their opinions and voice their grievances on the streets. It shows a great degree of tolerance in the face of destruction that has been wrought on Tehran by certain elements."

0710 GMT: Tehran Bureau has posted an interesting overview of the political battle between former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "Rafsanjani's Next Move".

0700 GMT: It is 1130 GMT and almost everyone, including news reports, are awaiting the Supreme Leader's appearance. An Iranian witness has told "Alive in Tehran" (see separate post) that, rather than marching to prayers, the opposition protestors will demonstrate on Saturday.

We have also posted eyewitness testimony from Thursday's demonstration and the text of Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech to the rally.

Morning Update (0530 GMT): The Known: the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, will address those attending Friday prayers in Tehran. It will be his first public appearance since the election, and his first statement since his call for "calm" and "unity" earlier this week after meeting with representatives of the Presidential campaigns. The event will be shown live by State media, including Press TV English.

The Unknown: it is unclear whether opposition campaigns, notably that of Mir Hossein Mousavi, will organise a march to today's prayers or whether they will hold a demonstration on Saturday, when the Guardian Council will be meeting with representatives of all four Presidential candidates.

It is even more uncertain what is happening in political and religious gatherings behind the scenes. In particular, there is speculation about the latest initiatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been trying to organise clerical protest and even a formal position of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council against the electoral outcome. We have gathered some interesting analysis about Rafsanjani's position and will be posting later today.

Press TV continues to give prominence to the "official" Government line, featuring not only the Supreme Leader's Friday speech and the Guardian Council's Saturday meeting with the campaigns but also an extended report on protests in London against the BBC's coverage of the crisis. However, the broadcaster is also referring (briefly) to Thursday's demonstration in Tehran and noting Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei's appeal for details of the vote recount (he was turned down sharply). CNN's correspondent in Tehran says he is now restricted to one report per day --- today, it will be the Supreme Leader at Friday prayers, the images of which can be broadcast --- and CNN crew's requests for extensions of visas are being turned down.

The Latest from Iran (18 June): From Green to "A Sea of Black"

The Latest from Iran (19 June): The Known and the Unknown

Iran: EA’s Chris Emery in The Guardian – “Khamenei’s Supreme Dilemma”
Iran: What’s Happening? Sifting Information from Rumours on Twitter
LATEST Video: The Protests in and Beyond Tehran
Iran after the Elections: Confession, Accusation and Warning from Israel
The Latest from Iran (17 June): Uncovering the News on Attacks, Protests, and the Supreme Leader

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IRAN DEMOS 41805 GMT: I'm off to see Billy Bragg in concert, hoping he will do a version of "Waiting for the Great (Green) Leap Forward". Mike Dunn and Ali Yenidunya are keeping an eye out for any big developments.

1715 GMT: The rally, estimated by BBC as "100,000" people, has taken place peacefully in Tehran, with Mir Hossein Mousavi addressing the crowd.

I have just finished an interview with BBC World. It was clear, from preparation as well as the actual discussion, that BBC --- with their correspondent in Tehran effectively under "lockdown" --- is increasingly relying on "talking heads" with connections to Iran to provide information on detentions and political manoeuvres. (Sub-text: EA readers, please keep sending any information/feedback you might have.)

1520 GMT: Revelation or political stunt? Iranian state-run media reporting that authorities "thwarted a terrorist plot to plant bombs in mosques and other crowded areas in Tehran on election day".

1425 GMT: The health of Ibrahim Yazdi, who was detained yesterday in a hospital in Tehran and taken to Evin Prison, is reported as critical. Apparently, Yazdi has been returned to hospital and his family called to immediately go there.

1335 GMT: Intriguing coverage of the opposition rallies on Press TV's English-language website. The lead is a statement by a Mousavi advisor that those causing violence are "not supporters of, or linked to Mousavi or his camp." The report puts a question mark over the official results ("According to the Interior Ministry [Mousavi] has lost to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even in the East-Azerbaijan province where he hails from") and notes "mass rallies by hundreds of thousands of Mousavi's supporters".

No news on the site yet of today's protest.

1330 GMT: Further to Chris Emery's excellent analysis of the political battle at the highest levels of the Iranian Government, this quote from an article in the Los Angeles Times: "'It's very civilized, like a game of chess,' said one figure in Rafsanjani's inner circle. 'But our game is with Khamenei. Ahmadinejad is just a pawn.'"

1150 GMT: Spinning the Arrests: Press TV is quoting the Intelligence Ministry that it has arrested a number of "main agents" behind post-election violence.

Reports that Sharif, Tehran, Polytechnic, Shiraz, and Tabriz Universities are closed with Sharif University examinations delayed to September.

1145 GMT: Cyber-Politics: the Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi has become a hot location for dissemination of information and a rallying of political views and comment.

1130 GMT: Spokesman for Guardian Council says that they will meet three Presidential candidates --- Mousavi, Rezaei, and Karroubi --- on Saturday: "This will enable them to raise issues and points they wish to discuss with the members of the council, and also provide a direct contact with the candidates."

1100 GMT: The main opposition rally will take place at 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) in Imam Khomeini Square in Tehran. Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi will be present.

Ibrahim Yazdi, leader of the Freedom for Iran movement, has been arrested in hospital. (Yazdi was to have been arrested on Tuesday, but security forces found that he was not at home.)

Reports from inside Iran indicate the scale of the crackdown on dissent, both with criticism of the opposition candidates and their supports and with a focus on Western interference via media and the Internet.

There is a claim on Twitter that the Mayor of Tehran, in a secret report to Parliament, estimated the size of Monday's rally at close to 3 million.

0800 GMT: Juan Cole has posted two US Government Open Source translations of the Iranian media: a state-run Isfahan TV report on the violence of "a group of adventurists" and the comments of the police chief of Fars Province: ""From today police will give no leeway to opportunist elements trying to provoke disorders during these demonstrations."

0630 GMT: A poster at "Anonymous Iran" is offering a summary of stories from Twitter: "There is NOTHING included here that is not from a reliable tweet." While caution is needed with this purported information, many of the points have been verified in part or in full by other sources, including the threat to protestors from "plainsclothesmen" and the location of demonstrations across Iran. We'll post the full summary in a separate post in the next hour.

Morning Update (0600 GMT): The dominant colour of the Iranian crisis changes from Green to Black this afternoon, as tens of thousands of opposition marchers are expected in Tehran. Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has called for demonstrators to produce "a sea of black", wearing dark clothing in mourning for those killed in Monday's rally and other incidents across Iran.

Elsewhere, the political colour is a very murky grey. International media continue to be cut off from events. Perhaps more significantly, state-run Press TV has now pulled back not only from any references to opposition marches but also to criticism of the Government, such as the Parliament-led call for an enquiry into the security forces' raids on university dormitories. Instead, Iran's media are concentrating on attacks on Western "interference".

So what might be happening? There is no news from the Guardian Council's supposed recount of the vote. Instead, Government authorities are focusing on the role of the Supreme Leader in uniting the country. Ayatollah Khameini's leading of Friday prayers is now a key event in this effort, with offers to transport people from around the country to Tehran. In contrast, nothing has been heard from President Ahmadinejad.

On the other side, Mousavi's call for a re-run of the election is likely to be joined by Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei (the other candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, is already appearing in opposition rallies). However, the most significant manoeuvres may still be those of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and his effort to set key bodies like the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council alongside the challenge to Ahmadinejad and, at least implicitly, to the Supreme Leader. The New York Times, which has benefited from the news blackout as it offers analysis rather than spot coverage, has a useful article this morning on the important role of clerics in developments.