Iranians protest on day of mourning

Iranian presidential challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi has urged his followers to observe a “day of mourning” for the eight people killed during mass protests in Tehran.

More huge rallies are expected to take place in the city after Mr Mousavi called on backers to stage peaceful protests to remember the victims.

His call was in open defiance of Iran’s most powerful figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has urged the nation to unite behind the Islamic state.

The daily mass rallies which began last week have been used by tens of thousands of Iranians to voice anger at the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it is feared protesters may switch their fury to a growing defiance of the country’s Islamic rulers.

Authorities have rounded up perceived dissidents and tried to further muzzle websites and other networks used by Mr Mousavi’s backers to share information and send out details of Iran’s crisis after foreign journalists were banned from reporting in the streets.

Officials also stepped up claims that foreign hands have been behind the unrest.

A statement by state-run Press TV blamed Washington for “intolerable” interference in the bloody showdown over allegations of vote-rigging and fraud, although it offered no evidence.

It said the government summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents US interests in Iran, to complain about American interference. The two countries severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A US State Department spokesman said Washington has been withholding judgment about the election and is not interfering in Iran’s internal affairs.

But President Barack Obama has offered to open talks with Iranian leaders to end a nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze.


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