Iran is facing its worst popular unrest for 30 years, with more street protests expected today against the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Running battles erupted in the centre of Tehran as night fell, with protestors denouncing a vote they say was rigged. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has called for an election review, but critics believe that may be a way of buying time.
At least one person is known to have died, shot by police as the protests threatened to spiral out of control. Many others are said to have been wounded. Most of the demonstrators voted for Mir Hossein Mousavi; they say they will fight to the end to have their demands heard. Mousavi himself appeared for the first time since Friday’s election. Struggling to be heard above the chanting, Moussavi said his supporters deserved respect, their votes and their rights. Protests like these are rare in Iran, a direct challenge to the authorities who have cracked down on dissent since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Independent coverage is hard to find as many reporters’ accreditation has expired after the election. But there have been reports of shooting in northern Tehran, a traditional focus of anti-government sentiment, and in other towns and cities across the country.