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Iran Streets Torched Following Presidential Election

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Iran Streets Torched Following Presidential Election

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Thousands of Iranian voters poured into the streets of Tehran after officials announced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidential re-election on June 12. Protests turned violent when skeptics alleged election fraud against Mr. Ahmadinejad. Since the election, at least eight people have died in riot-related violence and the Iranian government has arrested hundreds of reformists and 10 Iranian journalists.

Supporters of pro-reformist Mir Hussein Moussavi, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s main election rival, marched more than a mile along Vali Asr Avenue to the state-controlled television station, challenging the election results. Large crowds also thronged in the cities of Ahvaz, Shiraz, Esfahan and Mashhad.

A security officer estimated the horde in Tehran numbered from 1.5 to 2 million (Times, London).

Iran’s Ministry of Interior quickly banned the rallies. When demonstrators defied the order, police and the Basij national security force retaliated with batons, stun gas and handguns with rubber bullets, leaving protesters with bloody noses—blood dripping from their foreheads, ears, faces—and blood-drenched trousers.

In response, rioters barricaded streets, torched buses, motorcycles, tires and garbage skips, which blackened the Tehran skyline with dense spirals of smoke. In the aftermath, debris littered the pavement and roads, and bank windows were left shattered.

The government of France and Germany voiced disapproval of Iran’s response to the protests. President Obama was “deeply troubled” by the inhumanities committed against Iranian citizens.

Official tallies revealed that Mr. Ahmadinejad garnered 63 percent of the votes, and his closest rival, Mr. Moussavi, won 34 percent.

Mr. Moussavi’s popularity surged before the election and his final vote percentage appeared fraudulent. Critics pointed out that counting nearly 40 million votes in only a few hours was impossible and alleged that some ballot boxes were not yet opened before the winner was declared. Also, Tehran did not allow foreign election monitors, meaning polls were not independently supervised to ensure a fair vote.

Unofficial counts on several Iranian weblogs put Mr. Moussavi in the lead with 19.1 million votes, and gave 5.5 million to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Iran’s supreme cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds the most political power in the nation, confirmed the election results the morning after the vote, calling it a “divine assessment,” which appeared to close the door on challenges from Iran’s reformist camp. But after two days of rioting, Mr. Khamenei ordered an investigation into the allegations of fraud (Associated Press).

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