TEHRAN — Riot police and progovernment militiamen used clubs and tear gas to forcibly break up an opposition demonstration in front of the Iranian Parliament Wednesday. Earlier, the nation's supreme leader denounced what he described as pressure tactics aimed at overturning the recent disputed presidential election and warned that "lawlessness" would not be tolerated.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's ultimate political and religious authority, told a group of lawmakers that "neither the system nor the people will submit to bullying" over the election. In televised remarks, he called for the "restoration of order," adding that lawbreaking would lead to "dictatorship."
"We will not step an inch beyond the law: our law, our country's law, the Islamic Republic's law," Khamenei said.
Hours later, large numbers of security forces, some riding motorcycles, used baton charges, beatings, tear gas and arrests to disperse several thousand people attempting to protest the proclaimed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, witnesses said.
The demonstrators were trying to gather in front of the Parliament building to show support for opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who says that massive fraud in the June 12 election cheated him of victory.
Amid the turmoil, the outlines of a political coalition against Ahmadinejad appeared to be taking shape. The influential head of Iran's Parliament, former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, joined other political figures in refusing to attend a dinner organized by Ahmadinejad, the opposition newspaper Ettemaad-e Melli reported.