The wave of popular support for reformist candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, declared the loser in Friday's presidential elections in Iran, appears to be spiraling out of control. The government has outlawed the mass protests and threatened participants, but hundreds of thousands on Monday afternoon took to the streets of Teheran and other Iranian cities.
Mousavi himself, apparently concerned by government threats and increasingly violent attacks by police on his supporters, attempted to call off the support rallies, but to no avail. When Mousavi realized he could not cancel Monday's mass demonstration, he delivered a speech before the immense crowds, said to stretch five miles deep, and attempted to tone down the protest.
Shortly afterwards, government forces moved in and attempted to disperse the crowds using tear gas, batons and, in a tactic used increasingly over the past week, charging into the crowd on motorcycles. The situation quickly deteriorated as even the massive police forces, called in from throughout the country, found themselves outnumbered. Government forces then began using firearms, and several protestors have been shot. At least one fatality was reported on the spot, and numerous injured demonstrators have been evacuated, although many of them are afraid to go to the government controlled hospitals.
As Teheran moves into night there is widespread fear that mass rioting will break out under cover of darkness. In the meantime, Iranians abroad have been staging demonstrations of support for Mousavi and protest against the government violence in a number of European capitals.
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