Pro and Anti-Government Rallies Blanket Iranian Capitol

In the wake of violent protests that killed at least eight people so far in Iran, both supporters and opponents of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held separate rallies today in Tehran to either celebrate, or condemn, last week's contested elections.

Supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi gathered illegally to protest the election results. After initially encouraging his supporters to attend, Mousavi warned them away, fearing violence. Police said protestors would pay a heavy price.

"Our officers will crush any unrest," said Esmaeil Ahmadi Moqaddam, the national chief of police.

Watch ABC's "World News With Charles Gibson," For More on Iran at 6:30 p.m. ET

VIDEO: Mir Hossein Mousavi
null

Demonstrators defied the threats. Some eyewitnesses reported crowds even bigger than Monday's massive demonstration, which drew hundreds of thousands.

"The protestors came to claim their rights," said one Tehran resident. "It's the government that should be held responsible."

Speaking on Iranian television, a member of the Guardian Council -- Iran's most powerful clerics -- offered a partial recount. But opposition leaders are demanding an entirely new election.

"I do not think the Guardian Council will have the courage to stand against the people," said Ali Akbar Mohtashamipou, a Mousavi representative.

There were no immediate reports of violence or arrests, although it is difficult to confirm exactly what happened after the government Monday banned foreign media from covering unauthorized gatherings.

Video of Barack Obama talking about Iranian elections.
null

Late Monday, Iranian state TV announced that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah ali Khamenei, met with envoys of four opposition candidates Tuesday and called for unity, The Associated Press reported.

Amateur video reportedly showed a long column of anti-government protesters walking, apparently peacefully along a wide street on Tehran's north side, not far from where the pro-government rally was being held.

In Washington, President Obama said today the Iranian government's decision to allow a recount of some of the votes in last week's election shows that Khamenei understands that the Iranian people have "deep concerns" about the election, and its bloody aftermath.

VIDEO: Tweeting a Revolution in Tehran
null

But Obama, speaking after a meeting with South Korea's president at the White House, continued to tone down his criticism of the government, saying it would be "not productive... to be seen as meddling."

Officials prepared to recount ballots, but from only from contested precincts, after a ruling by Iran's Guardian Council, controlled by Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by "a large margin" in last Friday's election.

Mousavi posted a message on his Web site, saying he would not be attending any rallies today and urged his followers to do the same and "not fall in the trap of street riots" and "exercise self-restraint," The Associated Press reported.

VIDEO: Violence continues in Iran as the election protests escalate.
null

Violence escalated overnight following Monday's huge rally. Iranian state radio says seven people were killed in clashes when "thugs attacked a military outpost" after a mass rally.

But ABC News witnessed Monday's protest and it was very peaceful.

Unlike previous protests dominated by young people, Monday's protest mixed young and old, students and professionals.

A male protestor told us, "It's very clear, clear as daylight, you see the crowd. The government has really changed the results."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...