Iranian authorities beat up and tear gassed exuberant young revellers as they breathed new life into a pre-Islamic fire festival with a night of dancing, flirting and fireworks.
The Islamic Republic, which has an awkward relationship with its ancient Zoroastrian religion, only gave guarded recognition to the "Chaharshanbe Souri" festival last year.
Hundreds of people poured onto the streets in Tehran and other cities for a rare night of partying. Public revelry is unusual in Iran where the authorities consider it to be at odds with the country's strict moral codes. (Reuters, 03/16/05.)
From the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran: Traditional "Pagan" Celebration Turns Into Street Fights Against Regime Forces.
Violent clashes rocked, this evening, main Iranian cities as brutal militiamen attacked Iranians who transformed the already hardly tolerated celebration of the traditional "Tchahr Shanbe Souri" (Fire Fiest) into protest action and show of "un-Islamic" joy. Most areas of the Capital and cities, such as, Esfahan, Mahabad, Shiraz, Rasht, Kermanshah, Babol, Sannandaj, Mashad, Khoram-Abad, Zabol, Tabriz, Hamedan and Oroomiah (former Rezai-e) were scenes of sometimes unprecedented street fights between the regime forces and groups of Iranians. (Daneshjoo.org, 03/15/05.)
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Bonfire of the Mullahs
Michael Leeden is commenting on the above mentioned report by Reuters:
The Islamic republic does not have "an awkward relationship" with Zoroastrianism. It forbids Zoroastrian practices, including the celebration of the Zoroastrian New Year, Norooz. Forget about "guarded recognition;" there is a ban. The mullahs know something that al-Reuters apparently either doesn’t know, or doesn’t choose to report: that there is a big Zoroastrian revival under way in Iran, another sign of the hollowness of the Islamic republic, and the hostility of the Iranian people to their leaders. And to say that the authorities "beat up and gassed" some "revelers" is quite an understatement, since, on the evening of March 15h, there were very large-scale demonstrations all over Iran, combining the Norooz celebrations with calls for the downfall of the regime itself. Effigies of top mullahs were burned in the streets. (RegimeChangeIran.com, The Fire in Iran, 03/17/05.)