Hundreds Arrested In Violent Iranian Protests

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Iran on Sunday in what eyewitnesses called the biggest and bloodiest demonstrations since Iran's contested presidential election this summer. Host Guy Raz reviews the day's events — including the arrest of hundreds of protesters.

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GUY RAZ, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of cities across Iran today. Eyewitnesses say they're the largest and bloodiest demonstrations since last June, after the disputed presidential election. And as in June, photographs and homemade videos of wounded demonstrators have flooded pro-reformist Web sites.

(Soundbite of protest)

Unidentified Group: (Foreign language spoken)

RAZ: In this video, demonstrators chant "down with Khamenei," a reference to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Others can be heard shouting "ya Hossein, Mir Hossein," equating opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi with the seventh century Islamic martyr Imam Hussein.

Shiite Muslims are marking Imam Hussein's martyrdom today. It's known as the festival of Ashura. There are reports of deaths, including possibly the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi. Hundreds have also been arrested.

Now, foreign journalists have been banned from covering anti-government protests in Iran since June, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated Mir Hossein Mousavi in that disputed presidential election.

Last night in Tehran, a group of men armed with chains and pepper spray disrupted a speech by former Iranian president, the reform-minded Mohammad Khatami.

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

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