Iran Protesters Rally on Anniv. Despite Risks

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Hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of Iran Thursday, most of them to celebrate a milestone for the Iranian regime - 31 years in power.

But opposition protesters also rallied, risking their lives to stand up against their government.

In a corner of Tehran, amateur video posted on YouTube captured the scene of protesters ripping a poster of Ayatollah Khamenei, then trampling on it. They are the images the Iranian government tried to block the world from seeing --- but failed.

Hormoz Shariat is an Iranian Christian who hosts a gospel program that is beamed into Iran. His program reaches millions of Iranians weekly on the Mohabat Satellite Channel. We asked him how the Islamic Revolution failed the people of Iran, and whether the current regime sees Christianity as a threat. Click play for his comments.

CBN News' George Thomas has more on the developments in Iran, as seen on Thursday's Newswatch program. Click here for his comments.

In another part of town, Iranians on an underground metro can be heard chanting "Death to the Dictator."

Across Tehran and in other parts of the country, Iranians took to the streets demonstrating against the regime.

But the opposition was clearly outnumbered. As hundreds of thousands of Iranians met in the center of the city to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution, anti-riot police were deployed to prevent counter-protests. 

One video uploaded on YouTube allegedly shows security forces beating an opposition supporter. Scores of people have been arrested and killed by government agents in the weeks leading up to the anniversary. 

For opponents of the government, this is a long battle.

"Generally Iranians tend to look at what's going on as a marathon, there is not going to be one critical moment where things change," Hadi Ghaemi, with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said.

A marathon that's increasingly run by web-savvy Iranians trying desperately to circumvent the government media censors.

"It is an internet-based movement, it is a social media movement, and the young people are running it," Ghaemi said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, used the occasion to declare Iran a "nuclear state," an announcement he's made before.  He also claimed that Iran had produced its first batch of enriched uranium.

"We are producing and stockpiling several kilos of this everyday and God willing, in the near future daily production will be tripled," the Iranian leader said Thursday.

Washington fears that Iran wants to enrich the uranium to make nuclear weapons. Tehran insists the material is for a medical research reactor.

While he boasted about Iran's nuclear capabilities, Ahmadinejad ruled out any desire to build nuclear bombs, adding that "the Iranian nation is brave enough that if one day we wanted to build nuclear bombs we would announce it publicly without being afraid of you."

*Originally published February 11, 2010.

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