IRAN has any number of National Days to mark the progress of the Revolutionary Republic since the Shah was deposed and to recall relevant events that took place during the time of the Shah's rule. In November an official holiday marked the 30th anniversary of the take-over of the US Embassy in Teheran. On Monday of this week a state-sponsored National Students' Day commemorated the death of three students killed in 1953 by the Shah's security forces.

But after what happened at these two events President Ahmadinejad's aides are probably now scanning the calendar anxiously to see what other political celebrations are imminent. In audacious acts requiring considerable courage students and other supporters turned Monday's event into an impressive display of opposition to the government and its agents. Despite the counter-measures taken by the authorities to suppress any demonstrations and to prevent foreign media coverage of what was happening, TV and press pictures of very large groups of protestors were soon reaching the outside world. There were also reports of shooting and arrests.

Widespread and well-organised protests followed the rigged elections in June but they died out under brutal police and Revolutionary Guard harassment and arrests; these recent demonstrations show that the Iranian opposition is still a significant force, at least in Tehran, and one of the principal spokesmen this week has been Mir Hossein Mousavi who many believe actually won the election.


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