News / Middle East

    Iran Rallies Set for Weekend

    People take part in the funeral of Sanee Zhaleh, a student who was shot dead during an opposition rally in Tehran, February 16, 2011
    People take part in the funeral of Sanee Zhaleh, a student who was shot dead during an opposition rally in Tehran, February 16, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Iran's chief of judiciary said Thursday the government will block opposition leaders from making statements to their supporters. But websites linked to the opposition called for nationwide demonstrations on Sunday.

    The head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, said Thursday that Iran will block the ability of opposition leaders to make statements to their supporters.

    And he said Iran’s judiciary system will pursue the seditionists, referring to Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

    But websites linked to the opposition made a call Thursday for nationwide rallies on Sunday to show support for both men and mourn the death of two people who died in a political demonstration on Monday.

    Both politicians are leaders of Iran’s Green Movement, which grew up out of opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the disputed presidential election in 2009.  

    Anthony Skinner, a Middle East expert with the Britain-based risk analyst group Maplecroft, says Mousavi and Karroubi wield great influence.

    "They have clearly been key figures in the movement but the risk for the regime is that if they do arrest them and they put them on trial with the threat of execution, that this could be a tinder box, that people could be so angered by this, this as a clear strategy to try to stifle the movement, that it could explode," said Skinner.

    Mousavi and Karroubi made calls for their supporters to rally in support of revolts in Egypt and Tunisia earlier this week. Both men were put under effective house arrest and the rally was banned.

    But nonetheless tens of thousands of people marched in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran on Monday. Security forces made at least 150 arrests and two people were killed. Nine members of the security forces were also injured.

    A rally organized by the state is set to take place in Tehran on Friday to demonstrate “hatred” against the country’s opposition movement.

    Skinner says many people in Iran are fed up with political repression and a dire economic situation.

    "The economic dynamic at the moment is one which has not really fully been voiced on the streets as yet -- I'm talking about potential here. And I think that if the population, or a large segment of the population, who are suffering as a result and who take to the streets because of their economic dissatisfaction, then this could create quite a bit of difficulty," he said.

    Rodney Wilson is an Iran specialist at Britain’s Durham University. He says demonstrations in Iran are unlikely to have the same outcome as in Egypt and Tunisia, where longtime rulers have been overthrown in recent months.

    He says Iran’s leadership does have much support in the country and the security forces are loyal to it.  He believes there will be a heavy crackdown if the opposition does continue demonstrations.

    "The regime will react in quite a repressive way,' said Wilson.  "We would expect basically the security forces to deal with the demonstrators quite harshly. And obviously unfortunately people being arrested and taking off to prison and nothing much more heard of them."

    The Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organizes rallies in Iran that are backed by the government, says during Friday’s rally people will “scream out their hatred” against what it calls Iran’s “sedition leaders.”

    NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora