An eyewitness said army conscripts carrying plastic shields and batons filled the area in front of Tehran University. Two middle-aged women reportedly walked up to the security forces, asking them mockingly whether it was already 5 p.m., the proposed start time for the demonstration. “Oh, still 20 minutes left,” one woman told them. “That means that you still have time to leave,” she added, laughing. At Ferdowsi Square, a roundabout in central Tehran, teenage members of the pro-government Basij militia stood shoulder to shoulder in a huge circle, wearing oversize black helmets and camouflage vests and carrying wooden handles of shovels and axes.