Here we go again - Iran's utterly losing it as you read this, and it's way, way worse this time: there's a potential world leader ready for martyrdom, shooting deaths, more rioting, and a possible national strike.
Scheduled demonstrations today, many in favor of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prime opponent, Mir Hussein Moussavi, have turned absolutely, completely bloody. Since there's so much to cover, we're just gonna do a point by point:
- A suicide bomber supposedly attacked the entrance to the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Some reports indicate that one person was killed, and two were injured, but BBC's Jon Leyne, in Tehran, thinks it's a lie put out by Iran's state media. If Leyne's right, they're reporting the event and inflating the numbers in order to enrage supporters of conservative Iranians who supported Khomeini. Khomeini was the Supreme Leader of Iran until his death in June of 1989.
- The current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a hard-line statement yesterday that there would be bloodshed if the protests in Iran continued. His exact quote: "The existence of extremism in a society means each extremist move fans another extremist move. If the political elite want to put the law under foot ... they are the ones responsible for the bloodshed, the violence and rioting." Excerpts from his speech are here.
- Moussavi supporters set fire to a building in Tehran used by supporters of Ahmadinejad.
- It's been reported - not Twittered, a distinction beginning to get really important in all of this - that Moussavi's supporters have been dispatched by water cannons, brute force via batons, tear gas, and in several instances, live rounds in Tehran. A BBC reporter has seen a black plume of smoke coming up from the center of the city.
- Moussavi has, in a letter to the Supreme Council that was re-posted to his website, demanded the election be annulled due to fraud on the part of Ahmadinejad and his supporters, and that the vote was rigged months in advance. The letter is here.
- The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan - who, again, has been ruthlessly compiling a lot of unfiltered information, including graphic video of murdered protesters bleeding out - has a report he culled from Twitter: helicopters in Iran are spraying a type of acid (yes, acid) at protesters. "Similar to what Mojahedeen used in '78-'82." He also just reported that the Canadian embassy is not accepting injured protesters while the Australian embassy is. Sullivan has turned his masthead green in support of the Iranian people.
- A ally of Moussavi notes that he was "ready for martyrdom" if it came to that. He's also called for a national strike if he's detained by Iranian authorities.
- Video supposedly from today. The Lede at the Times gives perspective on the sheer scale of protest support: "If it was shot today, given what we have seen of the severe security crackdown, it shows that the opposition movement has not yet been completely contained."
- One BBC correspondent reported thousands of police and witnessing a protester's shooting themselves. Another BBC correspondent reports: "The security men were deployed on every street corner, in long lines down the sides of the roads, and in all the main squares. The basijis wore riot helmets and carried big clubs. It was designed to intimidate, and while I was there, it was working. "
- Right now, there's an abundance of information coming in from all angles - Twitter reports, YouTube videos, foreign correspondents having trouble transmitting (almost every wire report now has some kind of disclaimer noting the difficulty in getting information out of Iran). The trend you're seeing as you're trying to get this stuff down on paper is a lack of filtering, an almost absolutely willingness to get the reports out first and the information in them sorted out later.
It's going to be interesting to see if a few of the items above (mainly: the shrine bombing, the "martyrdom" statement) actually turn out to be completely true, as variations of them are appearing everywhere. It seems that guys like Andrew Sullivan are fancying themselves part of the battle - and they very much are - and are just trying to keep the lines of information open. We'll be keeping you up to speed as this stuff comes in.
Image via Getty.