July 30, 2009

Police Break Up Mourning Ceremony

BBC News has the latest:

Iranian police have arrested mourners who had gathered at a cemetery in Tehran for a memorial to those killed in post-election violence, reports say.
Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi tried to join mourners at the graveside of Neda Agha Soltan, whose death became a symbol of post-election unrest.
But reports say he was forced to leave the cemetery shortly after his arrival.
Other witnesses said that mourners clung to his car, chanting “Mousavi, we support you”.
Mr Mousavi got out of his car and walked up to Neda’s grave, but was then surrounded by police, the witnesses told AFP news agency.
“Mousavi was not allowed to recite the Koran verses said on such occasions and he was immediately surrounded by anti-riot police who led him to his car,” a witness said.
“Hundreds have gathered around Neda Agha Soltan’s grave to mourn her death and other victims’ deaths… police arrested some of them … dozens of riot police also arrived and are trying to disperse the crowd,” another witness told Reuters.

The occasion, called arbayeen, is a Shia Muslim event that marks the 40th day after a death. Mousavi and Karroubi had requested a permit for the gathering, but the request was denied by the Interior Ministry.

[T]he authorities are particularly sensitive about these “arbayeen” turning into political demonstrations.
That is exactly what happened during the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago in a cycle that helped lead to the downfall of the Shah, our correspondent says.

Update: A reader correctly points that although the word arbayeen is often used in Iran, the word in Farsi for the 40th day of mourning is “cheleh.”

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