Hardliners attack pro-reform rally in Iran


A number of Iranian student activists were injured today when a massive pro-reform rally was attacked by hundreds of Islamic extremists, according to witnesses.

The attackers were not armed, but briefly set about punching and kicking their rivals during a rally in a campus auditorium. A number of students suffered light head injuries.

The clash between pro-reform activists and hardliners, mainly fellow students, broke out at Tehran's Sharif university after at least 5,000 demonstrators stepped up protests over the sentencing to death for blasphemy of a dissident academic.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday ordered the hardline-controlled judiciary to revise the ruling. But today's rally was the largest since protests over the case began on November 9th.

After the clash, a group of some 500 students were seen heading out onto the streets, despite the presence of hundreds of police posted outside the city centre campus.

The student protests in Tehran have so far been confined to universities, and requests for street rallies have been turned down by the authorities.

The group was singing patriotic songs and giving the victory sign.

Earlier, security forces made six arrests as they dispersed another group of some 200 people who had begun to congregate outside the campus and chant slogans demanding the release of political prisoners.