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Iran to ban July 9 anniversary rallies

Tehran, June 23 (Reuters): Iran said today it would ban any demonstrations outside universities to mark the July 9 anniversary of 1999 student unrest following a wave of sometimes violent democracy protests that prompted a crackdown this month.

Hundreds have been arrested over the protests by thousands of people demanding an end to clerical rule. Student leaders, who have been praised by Washington, have said the crackdown could make them adopt more radical and violent methods.

“The interior ministry will not give permission to any gathering outside universities,” government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said.

Newspapers said hardline militia who have attacked students and other demonstrators with clubs and chains had also been denied a request to gather outside Tehran University on July 9. It was the same plainclothes Islamic militants who attacked the university dormitory four years ago, triggering days of riots in which a student was killed. The US has applauded the latest protests which not only targeted conservative clerics but also criticised President Mohammad Khatami’s moderate government for failing to push through reforms.

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