Iranian security forces beat anti-government protesters with batons and fired tear gas today on the sidelines of state-sanctioned rallies in Tehran to mark the 30th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover. While pro-government demonstrators chanted "death to America" outside the former embassy, opposition marchers nearby cried "death to the dictator." Security forces swept through several hundred demonstrators in the city center, clubbing, kicking, and slapping protesters.
The counter-demonstrations were the opposition's first major show of force since mid-September. Many marchers wore green scarves or wristbands in support of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the June election from him through fraud. Authorities appeared determined to avoid opposition rallies overshadowing the anniversary of the embassy takeover, and warned protesters days in advance against attempts to disrupt the annual gathering.