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Thousands of Iranians rally in support of government

TEHRAN, Iran — Tens of thousands of Iranians backing the country's rulers rallied in central Tehran on Wednesday, calling for the death of antigovernment protesters and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Clad in black and holding portraits of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the government supporters chanted slogans for the Islamic Republic and against its opponents. "Death to Mousavi!" they chanted.

A speaker addressing the crowd said that "the Great Satan" — a reference to the United States — was behind all the unrest in the country and the crowd chanted slogans of "Death to America," "Death to Israel" and "Death to Britain."

Authorities sent a note to newspapers ordering them to place coverage of the day's rally on the front pages of today's editions, according to one Iranian reporter.

The gathering came as Mousavi attended a burial ceremony for his nephew, who was shot to death during weekend riots.

The rally was in response to a weekend of large-scale antigovernment unrest coinciding with the religious holiday of Ashoura. Iranian officials condemned the earlier protest as part of a foreign-backed plot to weaken the Islamic Republic.

Still, rowdy protests broke out Wednesday on campuses in the Tehran suburb of Shahriar and in the eastern city of Mashhad, where armed militiamen allegedly attacked students, injuring at least 10, according to reformist Web sites and video footage posted to the Internet.

Thousands of Iranians rally in support of government 12/30/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 10:59pm]
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