Iran holiday quiet under police crackdown

Baku – APA. Iranians marked a holiday that leads up to the Persian new year under the watchful eyes of police Tuesday night after the Islamic republic’s supreme leader tried to discourage the celebrations, APA reports quoting CNN.

Thousands of people turned out, some in groups as large as 400 people, to dance, listen to music and light bonfires in side streets around Tehran on the festival of Chaharshanbe Soori. But unlike other holidays in recent months, there was no immediate sign that the observance was becoming a platform for protests against the country’s leadership.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, had urged Iranians to ignore Chaharshanbe Soori, an ancient festival held on the eve of the last Wednesday before spring. It dates back thousands of years and leads up to Norooz, the holiday that begins with the first day of spring and the Persian new year, which falls on Saturday this year. In a statement published by Iranian news sites, Khamenei said the festivities have no basis in Islam, and can cause “harm and corruption.”

“It is appropriate to avoid it,” he said.

Iran has been wracked by anti-government demonstrations since the disputed June 12 presidential vote that resulted in the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The government has beefed up security to ensure “order and calm” during the two-week period celebrating Norooz, stationing 200,000 security personnel across the country, accord… >>>

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