Iranian opposition groups flooded the Web on Monday with calls for a massive show of force during next month's anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, openly taunting authorities who have warned of a punishing response to any disruptions of the most hallowed day in the Iranian political calendar.
The blitz of messages and videos on opposition sites and social networking forums highlighted the continued ability of antigovernment forces to harness the Internet despite attempts by Iranian officials to cripple their Web outreach.
It also suggested that the Feb. 11 commemorations could become a replay of the street battles that have marked other major political and religious dates in past months that antigovernment protesters have used to challenge the ruling system. In the latest violence, at least eight people died in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters across Iran in late December, including a nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
The barrage of opposition Web postings picked up steam Monday with some drawing parallels between the current showdowns against Iran's Islamic leaders and the 1979 groundswell that toppled the Western-backed monarchy.
One video featured patriotic music with scenes from 1979 and the demonstrations that began with claims of vote-rigging in last June's presidential election.
"Countrymen, rise up," read one message by the opposition blog Balatarin.com. "Victory is near."
The blog included a calendar marking the dates of the large opposition marches since June and pointing ahead to plans for forthcoming protests — the next being timed to coincide with the government's Feb. 11 events that culminate with a huge political gathering in Tehran's Azadi Square.
Iranian authorities have warned opposition groups that security forces would crush any protests on the anniversary, claiming riot police and hard-line militias have shown restraint so far despite using clubs, tear gas and gunfire. The opposition says more than 80 protesters have been killed since June, while the government puts the number of confirmed dead at less than 40.