Iranian security forces turned out in high numbers on the streets of Tehran today to prevent possible opposition protests during a national festival, but the capital reportedly remained fairly quiet.
Iranians are celebrating Chahar-Shanbe Suri, a ceremony held ahead of the Persian New Year, Nowruz. People turned out on smaller neighborhood streets to light bonfires and set off fireworks, but news agencies report that Tehran’s main streets and squares were largely deserted except for police.
Since the unrest following last summer disputed elections, opposition supporters have used public events to stage antigovernment rallies, often incurring a violent response from security forces.
Ahead of today’s festivities, Tehran police chief General Hossein Sajedinia told the ISNA news agency his forces were deployed to prevent "any event in the city," in an apparent reference to political activity.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also urged Iranians not to celebrate, calling the festival un-Islamic.
In separate developments, reformists Azar Mansouri and Behzad Nabavi
were reportedly released from jail until April 4 after posting bail.
Mansouri, a leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, was arrested after last year's presidential election dispute.
Nabavi, a leader of the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Party, has been serving a five-year term for "crimes against national security." Compiled from agency reports