10pm GMT: PBS's Tehran bureau's blog has some gripping eyewitness accounts of the protests in Tehran today:I love how tyrants can "decide for people" what they really want or what their real intentions are. Here is the Iranian version of a "nurturing" government making sure its citizens don't get infested with crazy ideas about freedom, free speech, the right to peacefully assemble, the right to petition one's government:When I reached Eskandari Street it looked like a war zone: smoke, dust, teargas, screaming people, flying stones and regular attacks by the well equipped motorcycle riding guards. A petite young girl with a green wristband and a small backpack was walking to my left. Just before we reached Navab Avenue the guards charged from behind, one of their clubs hit my left leg but three of them attacked the girl relentlessly. She screamed and fell to the ground, but the guards kept hitting her. I ran towards them, grabbed the girl's right hand and released her from the grip of the guards. She was in a daze and crying unstoppably. I pushed her north into Navab Avenue towards Tohid Square away from Azadi Avenue when the guards charged towards us. This time the crowd fought back and stones of all sizes were directed back at them. This gave me a bit of time to ask one of the restaurants to open their doors and let us in. The girl was in shock and pain. I got her some water and asked how she was. Her clothes were dusty, her backpack was torn and her hands were shaking. "Why?" she kept asking.
9.15pm GMT: In Iran, the authorities are using the state media to accuse opposition leaders of being part of a Western plot to overthrow the Islamic system. According to state TV:I find it curious that the Iranian "Islamic Revolution" idea of good government comes at the end of a truncheon and delivered by tear gas cannister:Hypocrites, monarchists, thugs and seditionists who wanted to create public disorder in Iran were arrested by our brave nation ... These people set garbage bins on fire and damaged public property.
9pm GMT: The Guardian's Saeed Kamali Dehghan reports on today's protests in Iran:It is tragic that the poor people of the Middle East are infested by social parasites, thugs, and criminals masquerading as "government" and whose only job is to steal from the people and repress any attempt to get out from under their poisonous control.Supporters of the Green movement appeared in scattered groups in various locations in central Tehran and other big cities in what was seen as the Iranian opposition's first attempt in more than a year to hold street protests against the government.Because of a government ban on reporting on the protests by the international media, footage and coverage today has been sparse.
The riot police and government-sponsored plainclothes basiji militia used teargas, wielded batons and opened fire to disperse protesters who chanted "death to the dictator", a reference to both Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Witnesses told the Guardian that despite a heavy security presence, small groups of people succeeded in gathering in main squares leading to Azadi ("freedom") Square – a chosen focal point.
It is especially scurrilous when this kind of evil hides under the cloak of "religion". But the ayatollahs of Iran are cut from the same cloth as the vicious right wing fundamentalist Christians in the US who think nothing of lying to advance their political "cause". I was watching the Rachel Maddow show tonight on MSNBC. These right wing thugs are killing abortionists rather than use the political system to achieve their political goals. These are mini-ayatollahs who infest America. Sadly the Iranians have an even more virulent strain of vicious ayatollahs who infest their country:
The very heart of democracy is "civil society", the respect for the rights and liberties of others. Without this ability to recognize the limits of your rights and the presence of their rights, you can't have a democracy. You have an autocratic regime where only one viewpoint is permitted.
The joke is that these unrepentant, illiberal Islamists would never have gotten a toehold in Mecca or Medina if the surrounding society wasn't at least a bit tolerant. If they had been quashed like they are quashing those with "unacceptable" views, then there would be no Muslim world today.
The fanatic Christians who are intolerant of other viewpoints demonstrate the same hypocrisy. Early Christianity was nearly extinguished because the Roman empire was intolerant. But it never carried out the determined, empire-wide, and persistent repression needed to crush the early Christians, so they survived. But the way these present day "Christians" behave, fanatically intolerant, then if they were running the Roman empire, they would have made sure that the early Church was eradicated, totally obliterated.
I wish there was a way to bundle up the crazy Islamists and the crazy Christians and put them on a separate planet and let them go at each other. Meanwhile, reasonable Muslims and reasonable Christians could happily co-exist here, on earth, our wonderful "blue marble" hanging in space.