Iranian security officials have issued contradictory statements regarding people detained at Chaharshanbeh Souri, the fire festival celebrated last night in Iran.
Commander Ahmadreza Radan, Iran security forces chief, announced that the detainees numbered fewer than ten and they will remain in custody until the end of the New Year celebrations.
The Iranian New Year is celebrated on Nowrouz, the first day of spring, and the holidays continue for 13 days.
At the same time, Colonel Ali Karimi, deputy of Tehran security operations, has announced that 467 people were arrested yesterday in Tehran.
“With swift deployment throughout the city, the police succeeded in arresting 467 people who were trying to disturb security and sell or distribute igneous material,” Karimi reported.
Commander Radan also reported that one person was killed in Shiraz due to “an explosion of igneous material.”
Iranians customarily build bonfires and jump over them in their alleys during the Chaharshanbeh Souri fire festival. Sometimes firecrackers are also used.
Officials announced that, compared to last year, the number of Chaharshanbeh Souri celebrations [the number of people celebrating Chaharshanbeh Souri] was down by more than half.
But according to opposition websites, Tehran’s streets were the scene of several protest gatherings and anti-government chanting last night, amid an intense security presence.
Jaras reported that people were chanting slogans in support of MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the opposition leaders who have been under house arrest for over three weeks.
Both Jaras and HRANA websites report that dozens of protesters were beaten and arrested in Tehran.
A number of video clips posted on YouTube also show people using the Chaharshanbeh Souri occasion to chant anti-government slogans.
Similar protests were reported in Shiraz, Esfahan, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Karaj, Babol and Arak.