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Post-poll polarisation affects power centres

Atul Aneja

TEHRAN: Two events appeared to have energised what seemingly has become a widely supported pro-Mousavi student revolt in Tehran.

First, Iran’s presidential candidate Mir Hosain Mousavi on Sunday called for more non-violent protests by his supporters countrywide against the election result in favour of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Second, protests have spread to the sensitive Tehran University campus where heavy clashes, involving use of tear gas and plastic bullets by the police, and Molotov cocktails by students, have been reported overnight.

Analysts say the Opposition is casting its mobilisation in the image of protests which preceded the 1979 Revolution.

On Sunday, protesters from roof-tops chanted “Allahu Akbar” a practice that was in vogue at the turn of the Revolution.

By Sunday, the post-poll polarisation appeared to have affected various centres of power in Tehran.

Mohsen Rezai, once a powerful head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, criticised the poll results.

Effat Marashi, wife of the former President and political heavyweight, Hashemi Rafsanjani, has also lent support for the protests. “If people see that [the government] has cheated, they should protest on the streets,” she was quoted as saying.

In the run-up to the elections, Mr. Ahmadinejad targeted Mr. Rafsanjani and described him as the nucleus of a corrupt and monopolistic economic system.

Mr. Rafsanjani heads the Assembly of Experts, which not only monitors the activities of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but, theoretically, also has the power to remove him.

The authorities and protesters have also been combating each other in cyberspace.

The Communication Ministry has snapped the text messaging system, which has been the mainstay of communication among Mr. Mousavi’s supporters.

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