Iran Crisis: Mousavi Leads Huge Rally Despite Ban

Protestor in Tehran (Photo: Unknown Persian Blog)

Protester in Tehran (Photo: AFP)

Latest update: The AFP & the BBC report that Mousavi told a crowd of tens of thousands in Tehran that he was ready to take part in a new poll. 6/15/2009 @ 8:30 AM ( PST)

Civil unrest has continued in Tehran almost two days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected to another four-year term. News reports of rioting, fires, and more arrests are wide spread despite efforts by the Iranian government to shut down satellites, Internet, and telephone lines.

The BBC and other major international press organizations are expressing outrage over the efforts by the Iranian authorities to block satellite transmissions.

Tehranbureau had been one of the blogs sending alerts of what was happening on the ground in the Iranian capital, but it was shut down earlier today. Similarly, other Persian blogs have been blocked presumably by Ahmadinejad’s Intelligence Department.

Iranian’s have described the capital as a “militarized zone” inundated by police and men in military uniforms. Numerous reformists in Mir Hossein Mousavi’s party have been arrested, but those who remain free have requested to the Guardian Council that the elections be invalidated. This is what Mousavi was quoted as saying: “Today, I have submitted my official formal request to the council to cancel the election result..I urge you Iranian nation to continue your nationwide protests in a peaceful and legal way.”

Meanwhile Ahmadinejad’s supporters organized a rally to celebrate their president’s re-election despite claims that the election was rigged. Ahmadinejad strongly defended his reelection at the rally, he stated: ” Some say the vote is disrupted, there has been fraud. Where are the irregularities in the election? Some people just want democracy for their own sake. Some want elections, freedom, a sound election. They recognise it only as long as the result favours them”.

Here is a excerpt from the BBC:

Crowds thronged the main thoroughfare, Vali Asr street, waving Iranian flags and chanting in jubilation.

The president’s closest opponent in the election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, has lodged an official appeal against the result amid continuing angry protests.

Mr Ahmadinejad denied any vote-fixing, saying the result was “very accurate.”

Counter Rally

Meanwhile Mousavi’s supporters are also planning their own rally on Monday.

Mousavi made a statement on his website urging “to continue protest in a peaceful and legal way.” He writes: “The race might be over. The next president of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been elected, but it could be illigitimate. Mousavi is strongly protesting the many obvious violations. He will not surrender to this dangerous charade. Mousavi warns that voting violation could lead to the establishment of tyranny in Iran. The system at the moment isn’t free, fair or transparent. The Iranians were voting for change.”

On Sunday, Mousavi wrote a letter addressed to the Iranian people.

This according to REUTERS:

Supporters of Iran’s defeated presidential candidate plan a rally in Tehran on Monday to protest against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which has sparked two days of violent demonstrations in the capital.

US Response

US government officials haven’t publicly expressed much about the election in Iran to avoid conflicts with that country’s administration. That however, didn’t stop Vice-President Joseph Biden who’s known for speaking his mind (as usual) even though what he said offered no new revelations:

“There’s an awful lot of questions about how this election was run, but we’ll see, we’re just waiting to see, we don’t have a enough facts to make a firm judgement.”

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