Iranian Youth Chant Against Regime During Fire Festival
Young women dared to discard their veils during the youth parties this week.
A woman dances with men during the “Chaharshanbeh Soori” festival in Tehran March 18, 2008. People jump over fire during the festival to burn away the year’s sins on the last Tuesday night before the new year. (REUTERS/Raheb Homavani)
Iranian youths chanted “Death to Ahmadinejad” during Chaharshanbeh Soori celebrations held in Iran this week.
“Death to Ahmadinejad,” Iranian youths chanted Tuesday night, during the fiery festivities taking place throughout Iran. The holiday celebrates the last night of the Persian year, and in recent years has become infused with anti-regime activity.
The main custom of the holiday is the lighting of bonfires, which one must jump over in order to purge sins in honor of the new year, beginning Friday. Thus Iranian girls and boys meet in the towns and cities to dance around the bonfires, which contradicts the laws of the country, as they prohibit men and women to be seen together in public.
In some of the cities, such as Ahvaz, the youths of the Arab minority declared, “Freedom is our legitimate right.” In the western city of Sanandaj, Kurdish youth cried, “Death to (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad.” Many were arrested in clashes with security forces, while in the background fireworks could be heard.
According to reports from Tehran, police presence was reinforced throughout the city, and in at least one case of violence youths threw firecrackers and a grenade at the officers. However, the demonstrations were kept mostly in check, and the police force did not face anything much out of the ordinary during the holiday.
Winston has a roundup of the fire protests and several more photo links.