(Huffington Post) | March 15, 2010
By Sahar Sepehri
Traditional pre-Islamic celebration could be occasion for opposition protests.
Iranian officials are warning the opposition not to turn an ancient fire festival this week into a protest against the government.
The celebration of Chaharshanbe Soori, Red Wednesday, on the evening March 16 marks the last Wednesday of the Iranian year and is rooted in pre-Islamic Zoroastrian tradition as a rite of the arrival of spring and is thus rejected by the country’s ruling Muslim clerics.
But this will be the first time the occasion has been marked since last June’s presidential election, which sparked a resurgence of opposition to the regime by the Green Movement that believes the poll was rigged.
The occasion has led to trouble and violence in the past because of rowdy behaviour by young people and the use of illegal home-made fireworks, which have also caused injuries.
Police appear to be braced for a large number of arrests and young people are reported to be preparing home-made firecrackers and even grenades packed with gravel as they have done in recent years, which will fill the Tehran streets with explosions, smoke, and the smell of gunpowder. A black-market trade has grown up in the items, some of which are made by school children who get the information from the internet.