Dozens arrested as security forces clash with protesters in 2 central Iran cities

Reporting from Tehran and Beirut – Security forces clashed with demonstrators in two central Iranian cities today, arresting dozens as ceremonies marking the passing of the nation’s leading dissident cleric continue to rock the country.

The protests broke out in the provincial capital of Esfahan, Iran’s cultural center, and nearby Najafabad, the birthplace and hometown of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, whose death Saturday triggered the latest round of confrontations between the opposition movement and forces loyal to the Tehran government.

Videotape posted to the internet showed dozens of demonstrators marching through Esfahan as drivers halted their cars to block security forces. According to reformist websites, plainclothes security forces stormed a ceremony commemorating Montazeri and arrested dozens, including four journalists.

Security forces fired teargas and pepper spray at an event near a mosque organized by reformist cleric Ayatollah Jalaledin Taheri, onetime Esfahan Friday prayer leader who resigned his post in 2002 in protest of Iran’s drift toward authoritarianism.

“From the early morning the antiriot police cordoned off the area and the mosque, but some people braved the hassle and insisted on going inside the mosque,” said a witness in Esfahan reached by telephone.

A reformist website said a local official from the office of former presidential candidate and opposition figure Mir-Hossein Mousavi in Esfahan was … >>>

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