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Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK

World: Middle East

Eyewitness: Taking to the streets of Tehran

Iran crisis
An Iranian student involved in protests against the government tells the BBC World Service why students took to the streets of Tehran.

A demonstrator tells the BBC why the protests are taking place now
"Generally we believe that the Iranian youth deserve a much better life. We believe that we chose Mr Khatami two years ago for him to be able to perform policies that would further free our country from hardship.

Has Mr Khatami done nothing?

Two years he has had and two more years he has got. I think we should give him those two more years, and I think we will, but he has to be a lot more firm in carrying out his projects.

[ image:  ]
So what is going on?

I think the whole thing is to do with controlling the power of a country that has got a lot of potential to become a well developed country. For Iran to become developed we need to have a government that is capable of attracting investment into the country, and to do that we have to change the entire policy with which we changed the previous system.

Do you want to dismantle the republic?

Not at all. We believe that Mr Khatami can be a transitional government. We don't want a different system. We have tried that once and it didn't work. Changing the name of the government doesn't work. It is not enough. The idea is, whether the Islamic Republic or just the Republic, whether it be the mullahs or other people - the important thing is for them to choose the right tasks for a better future for this country.

Who is behind the demonstrations?

The students of this country are pretty well organised. This country has been through a lot of crisis and when everybody is speaking about the same matter then that creates an organisation in itself. Whether there is a definite person organising it - I'm sure there is.

But the question shouldn't be who is behind it. The question is that the entire student population is behind it.

How did you become involved?

It was because of a new law passed against the media that allows the hardliners to close a newspaper if they don't like what it says.

[ image: The demonstrations have preceded violence between police, hardliners and students]
The demonstrations have preceded violence between police, hardliners and students
It was broadcast live on the radio when the parliament passed that law and it wasn't a very happy day for anyone.

Personally I was very upset but I could not have predicted that something like this was going to happen.

The students came out saying this was a wrong decision to make - the next day they were beaten up and that created the violence.

Will you be on the streets?

It's all about reaction.

If we are beaten up in our response to our demand for freedom then that creates violence.

I won't be going home and I won't be saying that's enough. It will be enough when everything is as we wish it to be."

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