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Last Updated: Friday, 9 May, 2003, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Reform clashes in Iran
President Khatami
Khatami: Protestors call for resignation

More than a thousand people have clashed with riot police in Iran in the first major protest against the Islamic regime in more than six months.

The demonstrations started after students from Tehran University staged a protest on their dormitory campus against privatisation plans.

They were joined on the street by hundreds of people.

Windows of nearby shops were broken and a few motorcycles were burnt.

Witnesses said the protests began with just a few hundred students, but swelled to more than a thousand as people heard the noise or heeded calls to participate from US-based TV channels.

For more than four hours the night was filled with bursts of noise as people set off firecrackers or sounded the horns from their cars.

Violent clashes with police

Many of those gathered shouted slogans against the regime, calling for political prisoners to be freed and for President Khatami to resign.

Eyewitnesses say, the protest turned violent when riot police turned up.

Armed with batons they tried to disburse the demonstration, beating those that stood in their way.

Many believe last night's protest is the first of many demonstrations to commemorate the student riots in July 1999.

Then students clashed violently with police for three days after a raid on a university dormitory which left at least one person dead.

The authorities have called on students not to repeat the events of four years ago.

Last Sunday the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei asked young people to remain calm in the run up to July the 9th in order to prevent what he described was a devilish plot to destabilise the country.



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