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Entries in Mir Hossein Mousavi (44)


Iran: More on Rafsanjani and Khamenei's End-of-Ramadan Speech

The Latest from Iran (21 September): Distractions
Iran: Khamenei Scrambles for Position
The Latest from Iran (20 September): Khamenei’s End-of-Ramadan Speech

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AHMADI RAF 2Complementing our reading of the dynamic between the Supreme Leader and Hashemi Rafsanjani, Pedestrian summarises the post of blogger Agh Bahman. Bahman also adds useful thoughts on the positions of Imam Khomeini's grandson, Seyed Hassan Khomeini, and Mohammad Khatami:

Everyone has been criticizing Rafsanjani and Hassan Khomeini for showing up at the Fetr prayer yesterday, and I just didn’t think the criticism was founded. We’ve had very few “real” politicians in our recent history, people willing to bend and compromise and adapt to circumstances. And I think Hashemi Rafsanjani, for all his shortcomings, is of this rare breed. Agh Bahman captures it perfectly (this is a summary of his post):

What got the most attention in yesterday’s prayer was the presence of Rafsanjani and Hassan Khomeini, and after them, Nateq Nouri in line behind the leader and beside Ahmadinejad. Many went so far as to interpret this as Rafsanjani’s betrayal of the people’s movement. When I got up and heard the news, I too was surprised. But when I thought a little more, my opinion changed completely. If you felt like me, read this, maybe your opinion will change too.

The Fetr prayer is one of the few state events which practically all high officials attend. Personally, I don’t remember any other even in which all officials participate. I think not showing up at Fetr prayer is like saying you don’t want to pray behind the leader. Did Rafsanjani do anything in the past three months that meant this remotely, so that now, showing up in the prayer is surprising?

In the past three months, Rafsanjani  did not attend two events which he was expected to attend: the two inauguration ceremonies. Both of these events had to do with Ahmadinejad and giving legitimacy to his government and this Rafsanjani did not want to do. Notice, just a few days after those ceremonies, he went to the goodbye and welcoming ceremonies for Shahroudi and Sadeq Larijani, the previous and current head of the judiciary. Probably one reason for his attendance was to show his respect to Shahroudi, but in any case, the judiciary head is appointed by the leader, and if Rafsanjani had reached a point where he wasn’t willing to pray behind the leader, he shouldn’t have showed up there either. And of course, Rafsanjani did not attend the two Friday prayers led by the leader, which was natural. From what I remember, unless Rafsanjani was prayer leader, he never attended the prayer  no matter who was leading. [notice, Rafsanjani sees himself, or at least used to see himself, as man #2. So just as the leader is not willing to pray behind anyone, and thus never shows up, neither does Rafsanjani].

Of course Rafsanjani did something else yesterday which didn’t get anyone’s attention and that was his absence in the leader’s meeting with the officials which takes place every year after the Fetr prayers in the leader’s beyt [the religious center adjacent to the leader’s home I think, or since “beyt” means “home” in Arabic, it’s supposed to be adjacent to his home, as was Khomeini’s, even if it isn’t.] From the photos we have of yesterday’s meeting, only the heads of the three branches of government are sitting behind the leader and Rafsanjani is very noticeably absent.

I went and found the photos from previous years. In the last four years, Rafsanjani was only missing in 2005. He was there last year and the year before that. I think by not going, he’s sending a message to the leader that he’s only willing to participate in events so far as he is formally obligated and no more. For instance, in a few days when the annual meeting of the Assembly of Experts with the leader takes place, I think Rafsanjani will go, and will sit beside the leader.

And now for Seyed Hassan Khomeini

I think Hasan Khomeini has a similar circumstance [as Rafsanjani]. He was in the first line of prayer every year at Fetr. In the past three months, he’s done nothing and said nothing which would mean that he’s turning his back on the leader. Khomeini showed his complaint out in the opinion on two occasions: not showing up at the inauguration, and not going to meet with Ahmadinejad in Imam Khoemini’s masoleum. Again, both these acts showed his disregard for Ahmdinejad and the legitimacy of his government.

And in fact, after the prayer, Khomeini did something that would obviously show his position: he went to see the family of Mohsen Mirdamadi (the chief officer of the Participation Front who is prison, and whose son was taken into custody just a few days ago) and Javad Emam (a recently released member of the Mojahedin party).

The Great Absence: Khatami

I think the biggest news from the prayer was not the presence of Rafsanjani or Khomeini, but the absence of Khatami.  Khatami too was first in line every year, and his absence sends a very clear signal: that he no longer accepts the leadership of this leader. Karoubi and Mousavi have been very vocal and have gone very far, and anyways, they were never seen in the first line of prayer these past few years. We can guess that they were absent for the same reasons as Khatami, but since Khatami was always first in line, his absence is much more noticed.

I should also add that I think one of the people to whom the leader’s words were address was Khatami. He said that confessions against other people in court was not credible. In court, a lot was said against Khatami. Against Karoubi and Mousavi too, but most was said about Khatami. I think the leader intended to appease Khatami with those words.

The Latest from Iran: Challenge Renewed (19 September)

NEW Iran After Qods Day: What Next for the Green Movement (The Sequel)?
NEW Iran: Another Qods Day Participant Writes
Latest Iran Video: More from Qods Day (18-19 September)
NEW Iran: The Five Lessons of Qods Day
Qods Day Video Special: The Black-and-White Soccer Game
Iran’s Qods Day: The Participants Speak
Qods Day: The Discussion Continues
Iran Qods Day: Snap Analysis and Summary Translation of Ahmadinejad Speech

The Latest from Iran (18 September): Qods Day
NEW Iran Video: Qods Day Protests (18 September)

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IRAN QODS DAY 42200 GMT: We took a break tonight to recuperate from the drama of Friday. To be honest, almost all the chatter is a recycling of the events and images of Qods Day.

There are intriguing developments surrounding the clerical opposition to the Government. Mowj-e-Sabz reports that Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was forced to cancel an important annual prayer.

The Green Movement is highlighting the possibility that marjas, the highest-ranking senior clerics, will not declare that Ramadan has ended Sunday and can be celebrated with the feast of Eid al-Fitr. In particular, it is noted that the websites of Ayatollah Montazeri and of Ayatollah Sane'i have not yet declared that the Holy Month is over.

Ayatollahs Mousavi-Ardebili, Safi-Golpaygani, and Bayat-Zanjani are also declaring that they have not seen the crescent of the moon. And now Hojatoleslam Taghdiri, the head of the crescent observation committee of  Tehran Province, has said that there is no way that the crescent can be observed tonight, permitting Eid al-Fitr to proceed tomorrow.

The statements are significant because they defy the declaration of the Supreme Leader that Sunday is the end of Ramadan holiday.

1540 GMT: In his first statement after Qods Day, Mehdi Karroubi has told medical faculty of the great opportunity "to expose in court atrocities which would have made the Shah look good".

1250 GMT: The Quds Day Football Mystery (continued). Two readers continue the tireless effort to sort out what happened with last night's Iranian state TV broadcast of the Esteghlal-Estell Azin match (video in separate entry and see 0740 GMT). Both note that the game was re-broadcast, after the "problems" with live transmission. One notes, "It was in colour and not in black and white as reported. There were many Esteghlal fans in the stadium but almost all of them came in blue. You could see glimpses of green colour among them, but, as I said, about 95% of the came in blue. I also couldn't hear any opposition slogans during the game, to be honest."

The other reader has the possible answer: "They started over from the beginning of the match, in color, with the sound edited from another match (so Green chants could not be heard). Also they cut away several times to another camera on the sideline for showing reaction shots of the bench/coaches, even though they said there was only one camera in Azadi Stadium."

1240 GMT: Maryam at Keeping the Change has taken on the task of sifting through the information to establish "whether Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Mohammad Khatami...took part in the Qods Day demonstrations". Her thoughtful but provocative assessment:
Mousavi and Rafsanjani could have been forced to appear in the protests against their wills or may have been given the choice to either stay away from the demonstrations or attend the government-sponsored rallies. The men may have calculated that failing to appear at the marches would be more damaging than participating in the pro-government demonstrations....The utilitarian calculations of the two men and the propaganda potential of these images aside, the presence of Mousavi, in particular, at the pro-government rally may prove to have undermined his "Opposition"-credentials, giving the impression (whether true or misleading) that he has become less assertive, more prone to succumb to government pressure, and/or is in a weakened position vis vis the government. As for Rafsanjani, a similar analysis may be appropriate, though his historical tendency to walk a fine line between competing interest groups militates against rushing to judgment on his motivations.

1130 GMT: Definitely a lull after the storm of events. We've now completed and posted the analyses of Mr Smith, "What Next for the Green Movement (The Sequel)?", and of Scott Lucas, "Iran: The Five Lessons of Qods Day". We've also got a new account from a participant in the demonstration and a new video thread as well as yesterday's video collection.

0830 GMT: Contrary to our fears at the end of yesterday, it appears that the regime's restrictions on the Internet were more to stifle the Qods Day protests than as a forerunner of an even more intense crackdown of arrests. Some Internet services have been restored in Iran.

0820 GMT: Three of the grandchildren of Ayatollah Montazeri, arrested yesterday, have been released. Three of his grandchildren remain in detention.

0740 GMT: The Qods Day Football Match. Our quirkiest story of the day, complete with video, gets even better. The latest account is that state television's coverage was delayed and limited to one black-and-white camera not because of the fears of Green symbols and chants but because the regime's efforts to limit communications hindered IRIB's technical systems. (I think the Blue team won 2-0 but I can't tell which one was Blue.)

0600 GMT: To be honest, this is a holding entry. For the first time in 24 hours, it is possible to draw breath and take a reflective step back, as the news from Iran is slow this morning, in part because of the Government's attempts to close down information on the scale of its setback yesterday, more because everyone is trying to take in exactly what happened on Qods Day.

The regime will try to regain its balance today. Press TV has a lovely example. Its story just before I went to bed was "Iran's Opposition Marches on Qods Day", a recognition that "supporters of Iran's opposition movement...joined the major annual commemorative rally showing their loyalty to their leaders". This morning the website is back on the proper line: "Iranians March in Solidary with Palestinians".

But, barring a swift crackdown by the Government, with a wave of high-profile arrests, the question of initiative will be with the opposition. What can the leaders and the Green Wave do with the opportunity offered by the tens of thousands who, after all that has been thrown at protest to make it go away, "won" with their defiance --- in anger, sadness, hope, and more than a bit of humour --- yesterday?

That's what EA staff will work on now. The first part of our opening analysis is now posted.

Iran After Qods Day: What Next for the Green Movement (The Sequel)?

Iran: The Lessons of Qods Day (Parts 1 and 2)
The Latest from Iran: Challenge Renewed (19 September)

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CHESSBOARD GREENYesterday Mr Smith set out the questions for the Green Movement on Qods Day. Just over 24 hours later, this is his re-assessment of the prospects for the opposition, which intersects with Scott Lucas' appraisal of the long-term political challenges:

The Green Wave succeeded in its main objective yesterday. Ever since the start of Ramadan, the reformist opposition to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, led by Mehdi Karroubi, was striving to make Qods Day the focal point for anti-government demonstrations. The target was to "stand up and be counted", and to prove that the Green Wave rank and file have not been cowed into silence by the litany of violence unleashed against it by pro-government security forces.

The Quds Day events have set a precedent for the Green Wave. From now on, every public holiday, or event that includes a large public gathering, can now be exploited by the opposition as an opportunity. The demonstrators can fan out in the streets and highlight the government's main weakness, its behaviour like an administration that claims to have received 24 million votes in the "most free and fair elections ever". If nothing else, the reformists have and will succeed in causing serious embarrassment for the authorities, as the decision to air a football game in black-and-white and with muffled sound, hiding any reformist supporters in the stands - highlights.

The reformist leadership however, has failed to produce a structured, middle- to long-term strategy. Of its three main leaders, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi, it is Karroubi who has been most active and vocal lately, producing several hard-hitting communiques detailing allegations of rape and rebuking indirect notices by the Supreme Leader to back down over his claims. Possibly out of concern for the well-being of their close associates that have yet to be jailed, Mousavi and Khatami have retreated from adopting the same tactic. Mousavi continues to profess allegiance to the institutional configuration of the regime and the Constitution, and somewhat romantically links the current crisis to a distorted view, by the current incumbents, of the prerogatives assigned to institutions such as the Guardian Council, the Presidency
and , indirectly, the Supreme Leadership, without questioning, at least so far, the validity of the institutional configuration described within the current constitution. This could well prove to be a conceptual Achilles Heel for Mousavi.

The situation on the ground in Iran hence appears to be that of a nervous stalemate. The government is entrenched and appears unwilling to concede any sort of concession to the opposition. The latter is defiant, has the remarkable capacity to send thousands of its supporters out in the streets and coordinate them effectively via the Internet (web-designed slogans were sung with amazing coordination across the cities of Iran yesterday). However, the Green Wave is not yet willing to embark on a new level of challenge, one that would presumably see Karroubi, Mousavi, and Khatami upping the ante by, amongst other things, sending open letters straight to the Supreme Leader.

Also unresolved is the fate of the dozens of journalists, top reformist officials, and civil society activists who have been regularly arrested in the past three months. The regime is therefore likely to keep up the pressure and continue to retaliate against the opposition leaders by harassing their immediate associates. Meanwhile, Mousavi, Khatami and Karroubi will have to go back to the drawing board to ponder othe next stage of their strategies. The imminent end of Ramadan might be auspicious in this regard: Mousavi has promised that the official launch of his new political initiative, the "Green Wave of Hope", will immediately follow Sunday's Eid al-Fitr.

Latest Iran Video: Qods Day Protests (18 September)

The Latest from Iran (18 September): Qods Day

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The Demonstrators Take Over With Chants


Mehdi Karroubi at Tehran Rally


Demonstrators Face Off With Police


"Where's Akbar Hashemi [Rafsanjani]?"


"Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad final warning, Green Iran ready 4 revolt"/"Leader,Leader, your fall is near"


Crowd: "Death to Russia"; Basiji: "Death to Israel"


Crowds Chanting for Ayatollahs Montazeri and Sane'i


Tehran "Liar, Liar, Where's Your 63%"




Tehran: Shouting "Iran!" at Security Helicopter


Tehran, Karim Khan Street




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Tehran "Ya Hossein! Mir Hossein!" and "Karroubi, Karroubi, We Support You!"





Shiraz, "NO Gaza, No Lebanon, only willing to sacrifice for Iran"


This is the first video claiming to be of Qods Day protests. It is labelled "17 September", probably because it was posted from US. We are treating as "possible" pending confirmation.


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.