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