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In Iran, Election Protests Continue

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Today the streets of Tehran were once again filled with protestors. Many marched raising up photographs of the main presidential opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi. The protestors continued to challenge the official count from last Friday's election. That count gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a landslide victory and the government continues to restrict access to the Internet, which we'll hear more about in a few minutes.

NORRIS: Earlier today I spoke with Babak Dehghanpisheh. He's with Newsweek magazine and he's in Tehran, where he said protests continued into the night.

Mr. BABAK DEHGHANPISHEH (Newsweek): You know, until a few minutes ago, I could hear protestors chanting pro Mousavi slogans just outside my window and they started probably in the late afternoon around four or five. And, you know, by all accounts, there was tens of thousands of people that gathered in central Tehran and marched toward the university.

NORRIS: While looking ahead, Mir Hossein Mousavi is calling for a major protest tomorrow. I guess that would be a sign of escalation. We should expect these protests to continue.

Mr. DEHGHANPISHEH: That's a possibility. What he's calling for tomorrow is actually a period of mourning. He is asking the protestors to wear black tomorrow and, you know, basically to honor the people who have been killed during the protest. So tomorrow I think we really can expect to see probably a pretty big turnout and, again, the protestors probably will be wearing more black than the usual green colors tomorrow.

NORRIS: There are reports that authorities, the revolutionary guard or others have raided university dormitories and reports that some of the opposition protestors have disappeared, what's happening there?

Mr. DEHGHANPISHEH: Yeah. These are some of the most disturbing things that have gone on in the past few days - both are true. The raid on the university dormitories happened a couple of nights ago. It's been really hard to confirm exactly what the details are. You know, what's sort of common in the accounts of what happened is that late at night, again, a couple of nights ago, what appears to be plainclothes security officials who - I don't exactly know the affiliation of which security branch they may have had an affiliation with - anyway, they did raid a dormitory at Tehran University.

There was - there were pretty widespread clashes. You know, there are pictures, again, on the Internet and certain Web sites showing doors that have been broken, closets that have been busted up, computers that have been, you know, thrown around. And, you know, again, by all accounts that this violence did lead to a number of deaths. On the other point that you mentioned, there have been a lot of prominent reformists that have been rounded up, starting even going back to Saturday, the day of the election.

One of the people who was arrested even early on was a gentleman by the name of Mohammad Reza Khatami. He is the brother of the former president. He was released soon after he was arrested, but several other, I guess, people that you would just - could really - just they were affiliate with the reform movement are still in custody. And those arrests are going on. There were two reformist gentlemen who were arrested today. And late this afternoon we also got word that another prominent figure affiliated with the reform movement, a gentleman by the name of Ebrahim Yazdi, was also arrested.

NORRIS: Before I let you go, there's just a picture that caught our eye that I wanted to ask you about. At a World Cup qualifying match, soccer players for the Iranian team were wearing green armbands - green being the color that's been associated with Mousavi. Soccer is almost a religion unto itself in that country. Is it unusual for soccer players to make that kind of political statement?

Mr. DEHGHANPISHEH: It is. It certainly is. In this country, I mean, I think you can look at the history of sports and see links to politics going back, you know, a long time around the world. But it certainly is not common in Iran for sports to be politicized in that way. So, yes, I think it was a pretty unique (unintelligible) to see those players showing their support for Mousavi with those green armbands.

NORRIS: Babak Dehghanpisheh, thank you very much for speaking with us.

Mr. DEHGHANPISHEH: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

NORRIS: Babak Dehghanpisheh is the Middle East correspondent for Newsweek magazine. He joined us from Tehran. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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