The Iranian government fielded an impressive squad of angry, hungry, Jew-hating fanatics. What of the opposition? Their counterprotest, centered slightly north and east of the main event, has attracted ample coverage from many sources, who offered reports that to my eyes, on the fringes of the counterprotest, sound plausible and accurate. I did not see Muhammad Khatami shoved to the ground, or any of the other more dramatic scenes of thuggery. Around Haft-e Tir, the government did break out the batons and beat protesters at the fringes, but mostly they seemed to have learned the lesson that by isolating the protesters to a few small areas they could avoid the spectacle of outright violence.
The real counterprotest was something I saw later that day, and the day after -- something much more muted, and harder for the government to suppress. By two in the afternoon on Enqelab Street, the streetsweepers had begun picking up the inevitable paper trash of a poster-intensive pro-government rally, where even pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei and Al Aqsa ended up dirty, folded, and ground into the street.
I headed back south toward my hotel, and stopped in at a dried-fruit stand to pick up snacks to tide me over till my iftar kebab. Down the road, though, past the natural moraine of parade detritus, I found a small pile of poster scraps, shredded in an obvious rage and left by the streetside. In the scraps were ragged triangles of bearded faces (funny how easy it is to identify Hassan Nasrullah or Ali Khamenei by facial hair alone). Someone had taken one of these posters and destroyed it, a silent protest against the day's events.