December 9, 2010 / 12:24 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 1-Iran reformist arrested, students held

* Reformist arrested for anti-state “propaganda”

* Students held after Tuesday protests still detained

* Anniversary of cleric’s death may attract opposition

(Releads with arrest of reformist)

TEHRAN, Dec 9 (Reuters) - A prominent Iranian reformist was arrested on Thursday and five students were reported detained following anti-government protests, in the latest moves against opponents of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ali Shakourirad, a leading member of Iran’s biggest pro-reform party, the Participation Front, was arrested and accused of propaganda against the system, the student news agency ISNA reported.

The arrests of students, activists and reporters in recent days shows the state is still ready to clamp down on dissent a year and a half after Ahmadinejad’s re-election sparked the biggest street unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

ISNA said Shakourirad had been arrested for making up lies about Islamic Republic and after he falsely quoted the head of the judiciary in comments that appeared on websites.

The arrest came two days after scattered small-scale protests at universities across Iran on Tuesday to mark “students day”.

The opposition website Kaleme reported that five students who had taken part in a rally of about 1,000 students at Tehran’s Polytechnic University on Tuesday, were still in detention in the capital’s Evin jail.

The state succeeded in quashing large protests that followed Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election in June 2009, blaming them on “seditionists” backed by its foreign enemies. Political dissent has become less public since then, but has not disappeared.

The editor of pro-reform newspaper Sharq and four of his colleagues were arrested in the paper’s newsroom on Tuesday after it published a special report on the situation of students. [ID:nLDE6B71UP]

An opposition website has also called for people to gather on Thursday at the grave of the late dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri to mark the first anniversary of his death according to the Islamic calendar.

An architect of the Islamic Revolution, Montazeri was named in the 1980s to succeed revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Iran’s top authority, but fell out with him over the mass execution of prisoners.

Saham News, the website of Mehdi Karoubi, one of the candidates beaten by Ahmadinejad in an election the opposition says was rigged, called for people to gather in an article which described Montazeri as “the moral father of the green movement”, a reference to the chosen colour of the reformist opposition.

Montazeri’s family has decided not to hold a public memorial service because of a lack of security for those attending, opposition websites have reported.

Editing by Noah Barkin

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