Iran's revolutionary government decreed over the weekend (12 August) that any journalist attacking the country's religious leadership could face up to three years in jail.
TEHERAN, IRAN (AUGUST 12, 1979) (REUTERS)
GV PAN Massed left-wing demonstrators marching down Teheran street, chanting and waving fists. (2 SHOTS)
GV Marchers gathered in street, chanting and waving posters.
SV Chanting demonstrators PAN TO protesters fighting amongst crowd. (2 SHOTS)
GV Demonstrators fighting as smoke bombs explode.
GV Ambulance drive through crowd as people throw stones. (2 SHOTS)
GV Demonstrator dunning for cover and hundreds of others charge down street
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Background: Iran's revolutionary government decreed over the weekend (12 August) that any journalist attacking the country's religious leadership could face up to three years in jail. This new libel crime is part if Iran's revised press legislation which, while proclaiming press freedom, institutes, though restrictions on publishing. Already two of the country's most popular publications have been forced to close as a result of the new laws, which have caused a wave of protest from left-wing factions in Iran.
Ten thousand left wingers marched through Teheran on Sunday -- rallied by the secular National Democratic Front in protest over the closure of the independent daily newspaper Ayandegan, and the satirical weekly, Ahangar. Those two publications were the first ??? of the new press laws, but many demonstrators feel they're not (???) only ones. They have already demanded a repeal of the law -- which requires all publications to have a government licence -- and the Minister of National Guidance will have the final say on who gets the new licences.
But not all Iranians oppose the new laws. Islamic militants attacked the demonstrators and pitched battles broke out, obscured by smokebombs and fuelled by stones hurled between the rival factions. The press laws are the latest catalyst which amplify a lift among Iranians, once United in bringing down the Shah, but now...divided over the course their revolution should take.
On Sunday, the demonstrators outnumbered the Islamic militants and fought off their attack. And when the militants had exhausted their supplied of stones, the demonstrators went on the offensive using iron sheeting ripped from secret newsstands as makeshift shields.
Hundreds were injured in the unrest. Fighting swept through the streets of Teheran and lasted for two hours. It was one of the fiercest battles seen in the capital since the fall of the Shah. Traffic was brought to a stand-still around the route of the march as people fled across the main Revolution Avenue to escape the clashes.