Supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime encouraged Iranians to turn out for a series of pro-government rallies Wednesday in Tehran and across Iran, going as far as offering free travel on the capital’s metro for the day.
Throngs of government supporters coursed through the streets of Tehran in images broadcast live by Iranian state TV. Large crowds waved banners and colorful flags, some with pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The planned rallies follow several days of increasingly stark warnings by government and security-service officials against opposition protests after bloody clashes between demonstrators and authorities Sunday.
On Wednesday, Iran’s police chief Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam warned “the tolerance period with anarchists and troublemakers is over,” according to the official IRNA news agency.
Since Sunday’s clashes, there have been few reports of significant protests or skirmishes. But with tensions still high between government and opposition supporters, Wednesday’s demonstrations could threaten fresh violence.
While recent opposition protests have appeared to attract fewer numbers than demonstrations immediately after contested June elections, demonstrations have taken on a more radical tinge. On Sunday, protesters burned at least one police station and fought back fiercely against security forces.
The official death toll from Sunday’s clashes stands at eight, though opposition Web sites …