TORONTO — Police officers and militia forces clashed with demonstrators in central Tehran all day Saturday and then again in northern Tehran in the evening, where the government forces shut down a speech by former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist leader.The demonstrators, who defied an official ban and turned a Shiite ceremony into a protest, underlined the government’s inability to suppress the opposition despite the use of violence. Protests have continued since a disputed presidential election in June, and a large one is anticipated on Sunday, the culmination of the Shiite holiday of Ashura.
Witnesses and an opposition Web site said the police and Basij militiamen beat and arrested protesters in central Tehran.
The police fired tear gas at protesters in three central squares — Imam Hussein, Enghelab and Ferdowsi — the opposition Web site Jaras reported.
The militia forces attacked protesters with batons and chains, the Web site said.
Government forces also attacked cars whose drivers had honked in support of the protesters, and smashed their windows. Many vehicles’ license plates were taken away.
“They beat up people relentlessly although many were in mourning groups for Imam Hussein,” said a witness, who spoke via Skype on the condition of anonymity. “I saw many people with bloody noses or limping away. It was clear that they particularly targeted women and savagely beat them.”