Martin Fletcher explains:

Iranians are doing these things not because they are told to, but because they choose to. For a reviled regime that rules by diktat, that has to bus in supporters to fill its rallies, that must be a difficult concept to grasp.

Protests are now common not just in Tehran, but in conservative cities such as Mashad and Qom. The regime’s use of violence during the holy month of Muharram, its lack of respect for Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri after his recent death, and other sacriligious acts have eroded its support among the pious poor.

One activist said: “Do Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and the elite of the Revolutionary Guards really think that I, or anyone else, after being beaten by the police, witnessing the murder of Iranians on the streets, hearing stories of rape and murder in the prisons, and knowing of electoral cheating, will ever remain passive and quiet? None of us will ever accept the rule of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei after what they have done.”

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