Iranians Celebrate 22nd Anniversary of Islamic Revolution
Tens of thousands of Iranians packed into Tehran's Azadi place to mark the 22nd anniversary of the revolution that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic regime to power, said press reports.
Demonstrators, including schoolchildren wearing the green, white and red of the Iranian flag, held banners reading "Long live the Islamic revolution!", "Down with the United States!" and "Down with Israel!"
Mostly coming to the square in families, the demonstrators held up pictures of Khomeini and, to a lesser extent, President Mohammed Khatami, said AFP.
Khatami, a popular reformist who has not yet announced whether he will seek a second term in elections on June 8, was due to speak later in the morning.
February 10, or Bahman 22 on the Iranian calendar, marks the date in 1979 when the pro-Western shah's prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar fled the country, and state radio proclaimed the country's "liberation" by revolutionary forces.
Anti-government supporters, meanwhile, staged a demonstration Friday in Tehran where twenty people were injured and 100 were arrested in clashes with riot police.
Armed police fired tear gas and beat some protesters with clubs after some 3,000 protesters chanted and held banners reading "We Are Against the Islamic Regime," to show their support for the freedom of expression.
Police destroyed all the signs and arrested some 50 of the young protesters, students said, adding that police hit some demonstrators with clubs.
Several protesters who fled the Parc Mellat area were beaten by police on nearby roads.
Demonstrations also took place Friday morning in the western cities of Urumieh and Qazvin and the eastern city of Bojnurd, injuring several people.
The Iranian news agency IRNA confirmed in a brief report that police had dispersed the demonstration.
It said the group was moving toward the Vanak Square to the south of the place when the law enforcement forces blocked their way and dispersed the protesters.
IRNA added that the protesters were demanding “greater freedom of expression.
"Some opposition groups outside the country had previously called on their supporters to stage demonstrations against the Islamic Republic of Iran today," IRNA added.
IRNA's report did not mention any casualties or arrests – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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