The daughter of Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was arrested in Iran for taking part in a banned opposition rally, according to state television. Rafsanjani was released a short time later amid reports that Iranian security forces were cracking down on rallies in the country.
State television said Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani was arrested by security forces in Tehran. It said she was "making blunt statements" and "chanting provocative slogans."
She was arrested on the same day as Iran’s parliament speaker encouraged those who are demonstrating in Bahrain and other Arab countries to keep up the fight against their "despotic" rulers.
Ali Larijani is chairman of the Iranian parliament. He said Iran’s parliament supports the region’s "oppressed people," who he said are exploited by America and domestic despotism.
But opposition websites and observers in Iran say security forces there have cracked down on opposition rallies taking place on Sunday. Protesters have reportedly demonstrated in Tehran, as well as Shiraz and Isfahan.
Kalame.com, the website of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, said a group of protesters in Tehran were dispersed by security forces. Another opposition website said tear gas had been fired in the capital. Observers have reported seeing security forces beat protesters with batons.
The semi-official Fars news agency said calm prevailed in Tehran. None of these reports could be independently verified.
A group called the Council for Coordination of Green Movement Hope had called for demonstrations across Iran Sunday to mark the death of two people who were killed at a rally last Monday. That rally was organized to show solidarity with revolts in Egypt and Tunisia that toppled those countries’ leaders.
Durham University Iran expert Rodney Wilson says he thinks protesters in Iran are unlikely to achieve the same aim. He says Iran’s security forces have historically cracked down hard on the opposition.
"I think there is a certain momentum there but I think it would be very difficult to repeat the kind of thing that happened in Egypt, basically. I think the regime has a lot more to lose and Iran has unfortunately quite a history of violent confrontations and so on. So I think it is going to be quite difficult."
Hashemi Rafsanjani was president of Iran from 1989 to 1997. His daughter, Faezeh, was also arrested in 2009 during protests against the disputed presidential election, which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
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