A large group of people gathered at Imam Square, Isfahan's central square, at noon and began chanting slogans against the regime's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and in support of Hossein-Ali Montazeri and Jalal Taheri, Isfahan's Friday prayers leader. A short while later, a group of Revolutionary Guards and pro-Khamenei club-wielders attacked the demonstrators and clashes began.
Many people were wounded in these clashes, which went on for more than an hour, and some of them were taken to hospital. The assailants were armed with knives, knuckle-dusters, and a variety of other devices. They chanted slogans against Montazeri and the Mojahedin.
Yesterday's clashes in Isfahan took place two weeks after Khamenei ordered troops into the province to clamp down on demonstrations and protests and intensify the atmosphere of repression and terror. The clashes were the biggest of their kind in Isfahan in the past few months.
Meanwhile, in the Friday prayers ceremony in Tehran, Mullah Ahmad Jannati, a close confidant of Khamenei, spoke of the aggravating power struggle at the top of the regime and openly expressed alarm at the prospects of the regime's overthrow. Jannati warned that should the current situation continue, "we will lose whatever we have... We have to think hard as to how we can preserve the security of Islam and the present unity," Jannati said.
At the end of the Friday prayers, a group of club-wielders chanting slogans against the Mojahedin staged a march in which they also denounced Khatami for the May 23 rally and the slogans that were chanted.
Another senior cleric, Mullah Khaz'ali, a member of the Guardians Council, mounted a personal attack on Thursday on the regime's president, Mohammad Khatami, for his speech in Tehran University on May 23. Khaz'ali said: "President Khatami must admit to his mistake unequivocally at a public forum." Khaz'ali also voiced concern about the overthrow of the clerical regime and said: "I am fearful that God may hit us on the head or the people may do so."
In the May 23 rally many of the participants used the occasion to chant slogans such as "down with dictatorship," "free all political prisoners," "guns, tanks, machine-guns are no longer effective." A section of the crowd chanted a patriotic song, "Iran, land of glory," the official anthem of the National Council of Resistance. They thus displayed their wish for the overthrow of the clerical regime.
In recent days, many government officials, agencies and newspapers condemned the demonstrators, while expressing grave concern at the fate of the entire regime.
Events of the past seven days show that the power struggle in the clerical regime is reaching unprecedented levels, while at the same time popular resentment and anger against the mullahs' rule is escalating constantly, and the people miss no opportunity to vent their feelings against the regime in its entirety.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
May 30, 1998