New York Times: Moving to thwart any protests on the anniversary of a disputed election, the authorities in Iran have ordered at least two million paramilitary members into Tehran, re-arrested dissident activists furloughed from prison and aggressively enforced public bans on mingling of the sexes and un-Islamic women’s clothing.
The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
Moving to thwart any protests on the anniversary of a disputed election, the authorities in Iran have ordered at least two million paramilitary members into Tehran, re-arrested dissident activists furloughed from prison and aggressively enforced public bans on mingling of the sexes and un-Islamic women’s clothing.
The paramilitary deployment, reported in recent days by Iranian news agencies, and the other measures, reported by dissident Iranian Web sites and witnesses reached by telephone, come less than two weeks before the June 12 anniversary of the lopsided re-election victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The opposition contends his re-election was rigged by Iran’s Islamic religious establishment.
The two principal opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have defied numerous government warnings, urged followers on Monday to march on June 12 and have sought a permit for a demonstration, according to a Web site linked to Mr. Moussavi, www.kaleme.com. It is considered highly unlikely the request will be granted.
On Monday, the Fars news agency quoted senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guards as saying they were bringing large numbers of Basij paramilitary forces from around the country into Tehran, officially to participate in the 21st anniversary of the death of the founder of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on Friday. But the Basijis are expected to remain in Tehran until after June 12, the commanders said.
“We are going to witness one of the most awe-inspiring Friday prayers,” a senior commander, Hossein Hamedani, was quoted as saying by Fars. The commander said five million members of the Basij had registered to participate in the ceremony.
Another commander, Ali Fazli, was quoted as saying that more than two million members would be stationed in Tehran.
Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is expected to lead Friday Prayer for the first time since he spoke last June 19, a week after the election, when he decreed that the vote had been fair and all protests should end.
Opposition Web sites reported that Iran’s judicial authorities have begun a new clampdown in recent days, summoning high-profile political prisoners who had been granted leave from prison since the Persian New Year holidays in March, and transferring many to prisons outside Tehran.
Some opposition Web sites and witnesses reached by telephone in Tehran reported that since Saturday, police squads have begun an aggressive effort to enforce chastity rules on young people, preventing unwed couples from walking together and forcing women to wear proper Islamic attire. The measure appears to be aimed at keeping the youths, who had a dominant presence in the post-election protests last year, off the streets.
Women have been required since the 1979 revolution to cover their hair and wear dark long shapeless coats to cover their bodies. But women have been pushing back the restrictions on their clothing over the past three decades, making the coats more colorful, tighter and shorter, and the headscarves smaller.
Although the chastity rules are often enforced at the beginning of the summer when the weather warms, Tehran residents said that the crackdown this year was comparable in severity to the early days of the revolution.
One woman in Tehran reached by telephone, who withheld her name for fear of retribution, said the scale of intimidation was so large that many women were not leaving their homes because they no longer had the proper clothes.
The ILNA news agency posted photos on Saturday of a police crackdown in Tehran in which officers stopped 30 cars to check on possible violators of the women’s dress code. Some of the cars were seized, ILNA reported, and owners were required to retrieve them after paying fines.
In addition, a new court has been set up to deal with women who violate the dress code, Fars reported Monday.
The opposition Web site Iran Green Voice reported that students had circulated a petition at Tehran University on Saturday to condemn the measures. “Such measures do not lead to chastity in society,” the petition said.