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« Latest Iran Video: Qods Day Protests (18 September) | Main | Iran's Qods Day: The Participants Speak »

The Latest from Iran (18 September): Qods Day

NEW Qods Day Video Special: The Black-and-White Soccer Game
NEW Iran's Qods Day: The Participants Speak
Qods Day: The Discussion Continues
Iran Qods Day: Snap Analysis and Summary Translation of Ahmadinejad Speech
NEW Iran Video: Qods Day Protests (18 September)
UPDATED Iran: The Full NBC TV Interview with President Ahmadinejad
NEW Iran: What’s at Stake on Qods Day for Green Movement and Regime?
Iran: So, What Are the Green Movement’s Goals Tomorrow?

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IRAN QODS DAY 42135 GMT: The Best Rumour of the Day (1745 GMT) is now Fun Fact of the Day. Iranian state television did show tonight's football match in black-and-white, and we've got the video.

2040 GMT: An Important Note to Close (For Now). I was going to hold this until morning, but as a reader has noted on the discussion thread, it is far too important a development to be treated lightly.

Advar reports what we have been observing since yesterday: there are worrying signs that the Internet is being strangled inside Iran, with slowing speeds. An EA correspondent adds reports from Iran that other services, such as Yahoo Messenger and Gmail, are unreachable and anti-filter mechanism are also almost completely down. He asks, "Could this be the start of the Government's [next] crackdown?"

2006 GMT: I'm Going to Tell You One More Time, New York Times (1155 GMT). Your headline writer has his priorities wrong: "Amid Large Protests, Iran Leader Calls Holocaust a Lie".

Here's your rewrite: "Despite President's Israel Diversion, Large Protests Challenge Government".

(I swear that I wrote this seven minutes before reading this from the National Iranian American  Council, "The NYT editors need some help today. Their coverage shouldn’t be entitled, 'Amid Large Protests, Iran Leader Calls Holocaust a Lie'. The real headline should be 'Thousands Protest at Rallies Despite Threats'.")

1950 GMT: A Good Mystery to End the Night: Why Did Ali Larijani Meet the Clerics?

Tehran Bureau, drawing from Tabnak, has part but only part of the story: "Majlis [Parliament] speaker Ali Larijani has secretly met with Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi at his residence in Qom." The full story is that Larijani met not only Makarem-Shirazi but also Ayatollahs Nouri-Hamedani and Safi-Golpaygani to "discuss current important issues of the country".

So why has Larijani sat down with three clerics who have criticised the Government to varying degrees, including one (Safi-Golpaygani) who was castigated by the Supreme Leader for sending a letter criticising the Cabinet? Try this: just as Larijani, acting for Ayatollah Khamenei, called in Mehdi Karroubi at the start of this week to ask him to quiet down, now he is carrying the Supreme Leader's message that it would be best for all concerned if everyone stepped back from public criticism.

The problem for Larijani and Khamenei is that today's demonstrations are likely to embolden the senior clerics, making it more difficult to bring them in line.

1845 GMT: Two New Entries. Because of all the great discussion amongst the readers, we've started a new thread for debate.

And, thanks to an excellent EA source, we've got first-hand observations from participants in marches in five different locations across Tehran. The Best Rumour of the Day about the Football Match (1745 GMT)? It's true. The heckling of Ahmadinejad when he was talking with IRIB Channel 2 after his speech ("Ahmadi, Ahmadi, Resign, Resign!")? Also very true.

1745 GMT: Best Rumour of Day. "Only parts of today's soccer match were televised [by state media], in black and white without sound, hiding green effects and chants."

And it gets better: "State TV sports commentator says we only have one camera at the soccer match and it is not functioning."

1738 GMT: Picture. (Tens of) Thousand(s of) Words. How big were the rallies? Well, going through the visual evidence including this entry's photo, taken in Azadi Square, we will now say that "tens of thousands" were marching and demonstrating today.

1733 GMT: Another Arrest. Fatemeh Dardkeshan, daughter of the reformist activist (and student of Ayatollah Montazeri) Mahmoud Dardkeshan, has been detained.

1732 GMT: The Jostling of Khatami. This photo of the former President being bumped into retreat (reminiscent of Mehdi Karroubi being jostled at the 17 July Friday Prayers of Hashemi Rafsanjani) has emerged.


1730 GMT: Reports that SMS is being reconnected in Tehran.

1700 GMT: The buzz is still about whether or not Mir Hoseein Mousavi showed up today, with the claim of a second photograph and a new report from "a witness" claiming that "supporters rushed Mousavi into his car when the hard-liners approached". To be honest with you (and foreshadowing our Saturday analysis), however, the issue is not as much about the authenticity of the pictures as it is the legitimacy of Mousavi's leadership.

"Everyone" knows that Mehdi Karroubi made a stand by appearing at the rallies today. "Everyone" knows that Mohammad Khatami went to the rally and was jostled into retreat. But not everyone knows that Mousavi made a public stand. They are not certain if he participated and, if he did so, whether he was with the protestors or "pro-Government" crowds.

In other words, Mousavi has done a lot with written statements since July but writing in this case is cheap. What is at issue here is whether Mousavi (as he did early in the crisis) is a public face as well as an author for "The Green Path of Hope".

1530 GMT: Radio Farda says 800 protesters have gathered in front of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting buildings in north Tehran.

1450 GMT: Internet is still buzzing with reports of clashes inside and outside Tehran. One that has received press support is of a crackdown by security forces in Isfahan.

1420 GMT: Josh Shahryar has written concisely and effectively about the issues surrounding the claimed picture of Mir Hossein Mousavi at today's rally (see 1335 GMT).

1415 GMT: More Cyber-Wars. Rah-e-Sabz reports that it, like other sites such as Mowj-e-Sabz, has been under attack. The site claims that much of the Internet in Iran was cut off or restricted in anticipation of today's rallies.

1400 GMT: A Journalist's Ponderings. Hard on the heels of her interview with President Ahmadinejad, NBC's Ann Curry offers this exclusive insight, "Ahmadinejad on Twitter: 'I don't have a problem with it. But it should not be used for wrong purposes.'"

So has this posted because Ms Curry is in agreement with her interviewee, considering Twitter to be a dangerous inconvenience to proper politics and journalism? Or could she, after the follies of NBC's excursion to Iran, be reflecting that the President sees Twitter as more of a threat --- opening avenues of information and analysis --- than the woman who just interviewed him?

1335 GMT: Mousavi Mystery. As Afshin has noted in comments below, there is a photograph which claims to be of Mir Hossein Mousavi at the Qods Day rally today. There is a great deal of confusion, as the photograph has been posted by the Facebook site run by supporters of Mousavi and by Mehr News, which claims it shows Mousavi supporting a pro-Government rally.

For now, we're treating the picture as suspect and a possible weapon in a war of information/disinformation, as there has been no other indication that Mousavi made it to the rally today.

1315 GMT: More Arrests of Clerics' Relatives? Mowj-e-Sabz reports, "In the protests today, Hamed, Naser and Hajar Montazeri - grandchildren of Ay Montazeri were arrested. Marzia Elahinia, Hamed Montazeri's wife, and Sara Azizi, Naser Montazeri's wife, were also arrested. Ayatollah Rabbani's daughter Loya Rabbani and her daughter Zahra Dostmohammadi and Mohammad Hossein Rabbani another of his grandchildren were also arrested."

Some confusion here as three of Montazeri's grandchildren were reported to have been arrested earlier this week and it is unclear if there are more grandchildren being arrested, the same grandchildren being detained again, or a mix of two reports. In any case, the regime's pressure on the senior clerics who are challeging it is now very apparent.

1250 GMT: And Yes, Virginia, There is a Khatami. Mohammad Khatami was at the Qods Day rally today, if only briefly. Parleman News posts a set of pictures, two of which we've reproduced. The first is Khatami's arrival; the second may be an indication of the security forces' response that forced Khatami to leave.



1155 GMT: We've moved Mr Smith's outstanding near-live translation of the Ahmadinejad speech from our updates to a separate entry, together with his snap analysis of the President's language and strategy.

I've only seen the headlines on "mainstream" coverage of the speech, but I'll put down a marker. Any news service that frames this as "Ahmadinejad Revives Holocaust Myth" (oh, look, The New York Times has just fulfilled our prediction) or "Ahmadinejad Bashes Israel" is missing the big picture. The real story is that Ahmadinejad avoided comment on the challenge to him within Iran, so the Israel angle is simply a high-profile diversion (and one that I suspect will work with most "Western" journalists).

The second smokescreen, thanks to NBC's supposed masterpiece of coverage, will be incessant recycling of Ahmadinejad's comments on talks with the US over Iran's nuclear programme, ignoring what should have been today's focus on the Qods Day rallies.

1120 GMT: Cyber-Attacks. After Parleman News reported last night that it is being filtered by the Government, preventing access inside Iran, the Green movement's site Mowj-e-Sabz is now down.

1100 GMT: Yes, Virginia, There is a Mehdi. Confirmation that Mehdi Karroubi was at the Qods Day rally today comes in a video posted on the Facebook pages of Mir Hossein Mousavi. We're now posting it in our video section.

1045 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz posts an overview of protests, arrests, and clashes in "Bushehr, Rasht, Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz, Isfahan, Ahvaz, Mashhad...."

1030 GMT: How Big? As you can appreciate, we are erring on side of caution in making projections on size of rally. But, looking across video evidence (some of it posted in our separate entry), I would now go beyond "several thousand" protesting in Tehran. Does the question go beyond, "Ten Thousand?" to "How many tens of thousands?"

1015 GMT: Oh, Yeah, The Friday Prayer. Apparently Ahmad Khatami said, "There are two basic reasons for our support for Palestine and Quds, first because Muslims are a single nation and second because we support the oppressed....The Zionists have tried to make this Quds Day a failure but they will not succeed". And so on.

1010 GMT: So "Where Is Mir Hossein Mousavi?" Here's the answer from the Islamic Republic News Agency: "Strong protests of people to Khatami, Mousavi and Karroubi's presence at Qods demonstration". The newspaper reports, "Mousavi showed up at Vali-Asr intersection at 12 noon with a few bodyguards, and was forced to retreat after confronted with people shouting "Death to Mousavi the hypocrite, Mousavi, Mousavi Shameless". It adds that Khatami and Karroubi were also forced away.

Al Jazeera is now reporting this although "it cannot verify".

0935 GMT: Catching Our Breath for Questions. The news that Mohammad Khatami was "attacked" and forced away from the rally seems solid (0809 GMT). But did Mehdi Karroubi appear and speak to the marchers (0633 GMT).

And where is Mir Hossein Mousavi?

0930 GMT: Mowj-e-Sabz is now reporting clashes and "violent situation" in Isfahan and clashes and arrests in Tabriz.

0915 GMT: Classic (and Accurate) Quote of Day. It's from Josh Shahryar, "Get yer cokes and pizzas folks. It's gonna be a long day."

0910 GMT:More on Rallies. Al Jazeera is already bumping the President aside for the marches, as their footage indicates there may be more than the "several thousand" we just projected. CNN's Reza Sayah on Twitter claims, "3-4 kilometre stretch between Vali Asr Square & Laleh Park packed with tens of thousands of opposition supporters".

0845 GMT: How Big Are the Rallies? Images on Al Jazeera television show masses of people on the move, and Agence France Presse is claiming "tens of thousands" from witnesses.

A source inside Iranian media has told EA that the internal broadcast feed is showing 3000-3500 demonstrators. Based on the reports, we now feel comfortable saying “several thousand” Green Wave supporters are marching, wearing green wristbands, with the largest confirmed rally at the Vali-e Asr intersection, near Tehran University on Enghelab Street.

(We think that the AFP report of "tens of thousands" may include not only Green Wave supporters but also onlookers and some Ahmadinejad supporters who are also present or are on way to Tehran University.)

0809 GMT: Parleman News claims confirmation of reports, which we have been followed, that former President Mohammad Khatami was "attacked" and forced to leave the Qods Day rally. The newspaper claims this was done at the behest of the son of the editor of Kayhan newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari.

0745 GMT: President Ahmadinejad starting his speech introducing Friday Prayers. See our separate summary translation.

0740 GMT: Excuse of Day (So Far). Iranian state TV says, “Unfortunately we can't covered Qods Days rallies with helicopter because security forces have prevented us.”

0730 GMT: Reports coming in of preparation for Friday Prayers in Tehran. Government figures such as Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in crowd, President Ahmadinejad arriving.

0715 GMT: EA correspondent confirms following Twitter claim, "Iranian State TV broadcasting the protests without sound and saying people are chanting for Palestine". He adds, "Footage is very sanitised."

0710 GMT: Counter-claim. Well-placed source in Iranian media tells EA correspondent that "few hundred" have gathered in Tehran squares. No mention of Karroubi or Khatami amongst protestors. Source says this is from "internal (and thus unseen) broadcast feeds", not what is actually being aired on State TV.

0705 GMT: Reported chanting of "Long Live Montazeri!! Viva Sane'i" (praising two Grand Ayatollahs who have criticised the Government) at Karim-Khan Bridge.

0700 GMT: Reports that tear gas has been used in 7 Tir Square to disperse crowds.

0633 GMT: And The Plan Rolls Out. Mehdi Karroubi is speaking in 7 Tir Square, shouting "Death to Oppression!". Mohammad Khatami is also reported to be present.

0630 GMT: Reports of clashes in Isfahan's Enghelab Square.

If the plan laid out by Mehdi Karroubi's office yesterday is being followed, he should be marching to and possibly arriving in 7 Tir Square now.

0615 GMT: An Important Caution. We are being very careful about reports of numbers and intensity of protests. While those passing information are well-intentioned, the claims are always prone to exaggeration or distortion as they are passed along.

That said, there are signs that these will be the largest gatherings since June. One report from a source in Tehran: "There's too many people [at 7 Tir Square]. The [security] forces are just watching in awe."

0610 GMT: Unconfirmed reports that marchers gathering in Qom.

CNN, after days ignoring Iran, has now decided this is a Very Important Story, previewing Ahmadinejad's speech with "Tense in Tehran" and "High Alert".

0555 GMT: Reports from numerous sources of chanting from protestors, including "God is Great", "Yah Hossein! Mir Hossein!", and "Death to the Dictator". Also people are gathering under Karim Khan Bridge chanting "No Gaza, No Lebanon --- My Life for Iran".

0535 GMT: Mowj-e-Sabz, the website of the Green movement, is filled with reports of Revolutionary Guard warnings. Thursday's statements are reported as "IRGC Preparing for Bloodbath", and then there is this claim: "According to an informed source, the security forces, based on prior plans, intend to arrest Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi following the Quds Day Marches.""

0515 GMT: It is now 9:45 a.m. in Tehran. There are reported gatherings in Tehran at 7 Tir, Vanak, and Mirdamak Squares. Uniformed security forces are gathering in Enghelab Square near Tehran University. Claims also of gatherings in Tabriz, Isfahan, and Shiraz.

From ePersian Radio via Twitter source: "Big crowd [latest report of 1000+] in 7 Tir square, most are wearing green, lots of basijis/soldiers." Another source claims, from ePersian Radio, that Grand Ayatollahs Montazeri and Sane'i have said they will join the rally.

References (5)

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Reader Comments (56)

Hahaha ha ha ha Funiest "News/ Rumor I have heard today"

Speaker says "Death to UK" and people shout instead "Death to Russia"

The Greens are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to many to control...

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

They are shouting marg bar diktator! marg bar Russia, marg bar China ..

The people are out in their millions, in Tehran and other cities like Shiraz

I pray they all stay safe and stay strong .....

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTricia Neda Sutherland

listen live at :

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTricia Neda Sutherland

A Pic from Iran from a reliable source;

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

Oh WOW 2 new videos from Shiraz, On the second it seems they are shouting DEATH TO RELIGION !!!!!

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

Post 5. allthough it sounds like DIN (Religion) probably they are saying Chin (China)

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

Here is the first official reports on attack on Khatami

It was planned it seems as it has the hands of Keyhan News Chief Editor in it (Shariatmadari)

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

New Video Claimed to be from today in ISFAHAN this time...

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

[...] Enduring America has a running translation (with some comments) of Ahmadinejad’s speech at Friday [...]

Another news inc photo on attack on Khatamu

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

First Clash foto from a reliable source (unconfirmed)

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

Another video from Iran... (I think this maybe from Mujjahedin TV judging from the logo on the top left)

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

Reports of attacks all over Iran, Shiraz, Tehran, Qom etc.. shots fired, tear gas used, Basiji attacks.. however people fighting back many reports that basiji on the run in many places.

other sources saying police is taking the arrested away from Basij then letting them go again 500 meters further away...

Al Jazeera reporting HUGE HUGE HUGE CROWDS...


September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin
September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

Here is a picture claimed to be from today. If so this gives a good indication of what is happening in Iran

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

"Al Jazeera reporting HUGE HUGE HUGE CROWDS" : yes there were huge huge crowds on the streets of cities but it should not be assumed that all of them were supporters of the green movement. I was eye-witnessing the march in Qom today and among the huge gathering of people in Motahhari Sq. I saw less than ten people with a green shirt or wristband. I don't know about Tehran. the state TV is showing mostly close ups of people gathering in font of the cameras or or pictures that are taken from a far far distance in which no color is detectable! so talking about a crowd we should have in mind that not every one in the crowds were supporting the greens.

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM.

@ M.

Just look at the Videos.

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin


This is coming back time and again.. the Police are protecting people from the Basij... I hope this is true.. Can not confirm as no real reliable source has reported this.

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

The internet is going so slow that I hardly can open Enduring America, let alone see a video online! But I think the green protest would have been noticeable in Tehran and that's why they are censoring the news about it. however, one of my friends living in Tehran told me that the presence of greens has been less than expected.

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM.

Rumours on tweeter that Moussavi would be under house arrest
-was he reported present in the rallye in any local medias or
tweets in farsi, d'you know ? and thanks Afshin for the updates !

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteryseut

Picture of attack on Khatami.

There are many reports thet Karoubi and Khatamu attended,. And with Khatami even pictures that he joined the protests. Mousavi however is not seen. Reported to be under house arrest.

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

@ M

Well I wish u could see this video. You'd be singing a whole diffrent tune. Trust me the green is very much visible... Loud and clear...

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

And here is the proof of Karoubi's presence at the protests.

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

To Scott Lucas,

I understand your trying to be safe but just go to CNN Ireport, Al Jazeera, and any number of other sources to validate the number of people. Its much greater than tens of thousands. My friends mother still lives in Tehran and she said their are several streets filled with pro moussavi protestors that stretch for more than a mile. She also confirmed the fact the regime is airing everything without sound--she got quite a laugh out it because she knows what the people are saying! I cannot verify this but the videos already coming out clearly show streets packed to the horizon in a number of them. Good luck on the reporting.

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Davit

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