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Protests mark Islamic revolution date

TEHRAN, Iran -- Mass protests and fights have marked the 22nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

The running clashes between hard-liners and reformists came after President Mohammad Khatami warned that extremist interpretations of Islam could threaten the country.

In a speech marking the anniversary of the 1979 revolution Khatami said: "The revolution belongs to all Iranians and nobody has the right to seize it in his own name or tendency."

"Misrepresentation of Islam and seizing Islam in favour of narrow, dark and non-democratic tendencies is threatening the country."

Tens of thousands of people, chanting national slogans and carrying pictures of Iran's late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, supreme leader Ali Khamenei as well as Khatami, gathered in Tehran's Azadi Square to mark the anniversary of the revolution that toppled the Pahlavi monarchy.

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Pictorial timeline of Khomeini's 1979 revolution in Iran
 
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Shortly after Khatami's speech, hard-liners clashed with supporters of Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, the head of the reformist Iranian People's Democratic Front party.

About 200 of Tabarzadi's supporters had gathered in central Tehran's Laleh Park early Saturday and were met by about the same number of members of the Ansar-e-Hezbollah, or partisans of God.

Police arrested more than 50 of Tabarzadi's supporters.

Tabarzadi said: "We gathered to warn that a revolution that promised freedom has now been seized by dictators who don't hesitate to trample upon the rights of the nation for the sake of retaining power against people's wishes."

None of the members of the Ansar-e-Hezbollah, a group allied with Islamic hard-liners, were arrested.

After losing control of the parliament last year the hard-liners have been trying to reassert their power, closing down reformist publications and jailing prominent reformists and journalists.

They control key government institutions, including the broadcast networks, the military and police.

On Friday, clashes between police and supporters of restoring the monarchy left some people wounded and dozens were arrested, witnesses said.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency on Saturday quoted an unidentified police spokesman as saying no one was injured Friday but that 50 were detained.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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RELATED SITES:
Presidency of The Islamic Republic of Iran
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