The daughter of Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was arrested in
Iran for taking part in a banned opposition rally, according to state
television. Rafsanjani was released a short time later amid reports that Iranian
security forces were cracking down on rallies in the country.
Faezeh Hashemi in a police van after she was arrested
State television said Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani was arrested
by security forces in Tehran. It said she was "making blunt statements" and
"chanting provocative slogans."
Fars News Agency of Faezeh Hashemi's arrest
She was arrested on the same day as Iran's parliament speaker encouraged those
who are demonstrating in Bahrain and other Arab countries to keep up the fight
against their "despotic" rulers.
Ali Larijani is chairman of the Iranian parliament. He said Iran's parliament
supports the region's "oppressed people," who he said are exploited by America
and domestic despotism.
But opposition websites and observers in Iran say security forces there have
cracked down on opposition rallies taking place on Sunday. Protesters have
reportedly demonstrated in Tehran, as well as Shiraz and Isfahan.
Kalame.com, the website of opposition
leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, said a group of protesters in Tehran were dispersed
by security forces. Another opposition website said tear gas had been fired in
the capital. Observers have reported seeing security forces beat protesters with
The semi-official Fars news agency said calm prevailed in Tehran. None of these
reports could be independently verified.
A group called the Council for Coordination of Green Movement Hope had called
for demonstrations across Iran Sunday to mark the death of two people who were
killed at a rally last Monday. That rally was organized to show solidarity with
revolts in Egypt and Tunisia that toppled those countries' leaders.
Durham University Iran expert Rodney Wilson says he thinks protesters in Iran
are unlikely to achieve the same aim. He says Iran's security forces have
historically cracked down hard on the opposition.
"I think there is a certain momentum there but I think it would be very
difficult to repeat the kind of thing that happened in Egypt, basically. I think
the regime has a lot more to lose and Iran has unfortunately quite a history of
violent confrontations and so on. So I think it is going to be quite difficult."
Hashemi Rafsanjani was president of Iran from 1989 to 1997. His daughter, Faezeh,
was also arrested in 2009 during protests against the disputed presidential
election, which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.