Tens of thousands of Iranians marched in quiet defiance on Wednesday in protest against moderate Mirhossein Mousavi's election defeat, as Iran protested the "interventionist" U.S. statements on the country's election.
In a fifth successive day of protests, Mousavi supporters demonstrated in central Tehran against the official victory of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Friday's vote, which has caused the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
At least seven people were killed in street battles in Tehran on Monday, according to state media. Other protests have flared up in cities elsewhere in Iran.
"A number of our countrymen were wounded or martyred," Mousavi said, calling Thursday's day of mourning.
"I ask the people to express their solidarity with the families ... by coming together in mosques or taking part in peaceful demonstrations," Mousavi said on his website.
After Mousavi's web message, his supporters poured into Tehran's Haft-e Tir Square, ignoring an Interior Ministry warning, witnesses said. They were mostly dressed in black with wristbands and headbands in Mousavi's green campaign colors.
Pro-Mousavi protests were also reported in the cities of Rasht, Orumiyeh, Zanjan, Zahedan, Tabriz and Mashhad
Right to protest
The political earthquake set off by Friday's vote prompted U.S. President Barack Obama, who had urged the Iranian leadership to "unclench its fist", to say the upheaval showed "Iranian people are not convinced with the legitimacy of the election.
The White House also said President Obama will continue to back the right of Iranians to peacefully protest without "meddling" in an internal Iranian debate.
"The president will continue to address those concerns and ensure that we're not meddling," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters."
The comments prompted Iran's Foreign Ministry to summon the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in Tehran, onto protest at "interventionist" U.S. statements on the country's election, Fars News Agency reported.
The Foreign Ministry communicated Iran's "protest and displeasure" over statements by U.S. government officials about the outcome of last week's presidential vote, Iran's semi-official news agency said.
Blaming the media
Iran accused some foreign media outlets of becoming the "mouthpiece of rioters" and tarnishing the country's image as the opposition movement planned more rallies in Tehran on Wednesday amid increasing pressure on the Islamic Republic over Ahmadinejad's fiercely-contested re-election.
Grappling with the biggest wave of public anger since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has lashed out at enemy "plots," hauling in foreign ambassadors, rounding up scores of reformists and clamping down on the media.World governments voiced increasing alarm about the situation in Iran, but U.S. President Barack Obama, while raising "deep concerns" over the election, said Washington would not meddle in the affairs of its arch foe.
"The presence of hundreds of foreign media (personnel) during the last election and their observation of the existing realities alongside the successful experience in the past 30 years in organizing elections is a symbol of utter transparency in the election process," Iran's foreign ministry said.
"But some countries, in an uncalculated, hasty and rude reaction towards the illegal gatherings, have supported them contrary to democratic principles and regulations and have become the mouthpiece of the rioters' movement."
The statement carried by ISNA news agency was directed to "interfering comments by some Western countries, officials and media."
"Enemies, particularly the U.S., Britain, and Israel (are) interfering in Iran's internal affairs, plotting against the government and giving media support to enemy groups, rioters and social and political hooligans who are trying to fuel chaos in the Islamic Republic," said the organizers of a pro-government rally.
Iran has also imposed new restrictions on the foreign media, banning them from covering demonstrations and effectively barring their journalists from the streets.
Throughout the ruckus Ahmadinejad has remained defiant, saying his landslide victory in Friday's vote was proof of the people's faith in his government of "honesty and service to the people."
Under mounting pressure Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini pledged to consider a partial recount after the opposition staged massive protests over what they charge was blatant vote-rigging in the election that gave Ahmadinejad another four years in power.
"If the examination of the problems require recounting of some ballot boxes, it should be definitely done in the presence of the representatives of candiates so that everybody is assured," he said.
The rights group of Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi called for the authorities to put a halt to state violence.
"We have seen a massive violent crackdown across the country by the police, the Basij and plainclothes groups directed and organized by these institutions which has brought about appalling catastrophes," it said.
Spreading the word
Reformist sources and the press said that several more prominent political activists and journalists had been arrested by security forces in Tehran and other cities.
Iranian newspapers published pictures of the demonstrations, which the foreign media were banned from covering.
Footage broadcast on the Internet has shown dramatic and chaotic scenes of violence, including one purportedly showing a protestor shot dead and others of riot police beating protestors.
Hundreds of protesters also took to the streets of European cities on Tuesday in support of Mousavi, who was premier of Iran in the post-revolution era during its war with Iraq in the 1980s.
The authorities have warned they would nip in the bud any "velvet revolution" and have rounded up scores of people in Tehran and other cities, including prominent reformists close to former president Mohammad Khatami.