Iran bans foreign media at national day marches

Iran bans foreign media at national day marches Tehran: Iran has for the first time banned foreign media from covering Wednesday's street marches marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution, amid opposition plans for anti-government protests.

An official coordinating the media told agency that reporters and photographers were allowed to cover only the speech of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the historic Azadi (Freedom) Square in southwestern Tehran, and not the traditional street marches across the city.

Every year hundreds of thousands of Iranians participate in marches in Tehran and other cities to mark the toppling of the US-backed shah in 1979.

But since a dispute over Ahmadinejad's re-election erupted last June, opposition supporters have hijacked regime-sponsored events to stage anti-government protests.

Iranian authorities are bracing for such protests today and have warned of a severe crackdown against protesters.

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have urged a large turnout by their supporters today.

Iran's police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam has said his forces are ready to "confront" those who stage protests today.

Opposition supporters continue to reject the legitimacy of Ahmadinejad's government, saying his re-election was massively rigged.