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IRAN: 22 Bahman revolution anniversary protests surge on social networks

February 11, 2010 |  2:40 am

Iran-rafsanjani-ilna

Internet access, phone and SMS traffic are said to be nearly at a standstill in Iran following alleged attempts by the authorities to restrict the flow of information, but messages and information as well of the opposition protests on the country's revolution anniversary continue to trickle in at a steady pace on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

On the micro-blogging site Twitter, the hashtag #iranelection is one of the "trending" topics and users send out updates on the situation in Tehran and around the country by the minute.

Twitter user manic77 wrote that the streets leading to Tehran's Evin prison and the state broadcasting headquarters are "blocked and controlled by special guards."

Some of the users on Twitter send our their messages in Farsi and get their original Farsi tweets translated into English by others on the network to reach a larger audience. 

Another user, i64, sent a personal message, asking his Twitter friends to wish him/her luck as he/she headed to the protests on Thursday. 

Clashes between security forces and opposition supporters have taken to take place in various parts of Tehran, with unconfirmed reports saying that the security forces are using tear gas and paint ball guns against protesters.

"Security forces trying to scatter people. Heavy clashes in Fatemi, Satarkhan, Vesal, Kargar streets, Vanak and Kaj Square," user BSalamati wrote in a tweet that was translated into English from Farsi.

Other users wrote that the clashes were "spreading" throughout Tehran and that members of the Basij pro-government militia and the police were "beating people" in Aryashahr square in Tehran. 

"I heard shooting at Ashrafi Esfahani highway in Hakim Street I saw that the area was full of ppl. Cars honking," wrote Twitter user GEsfandiari, of Radio Farda, quoting a purpoted eyewitness account.

The opposition has said an information blockade was been imposed ahead of the revolution anniversary. Phone lines are said to be extremely slow in Tehran and as well as in other parts of the country.

"In Isfahan SMS service is completely cut and mobile telephone service keeps getting cut," wrote Twitter user dadashiii.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: High-ranking cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who is known to be close to the opposition at Thursday's revolution anniversary rally. Credit: Iranian Labor News Agency.

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