This post contains video from Iran allegedly taken during the Nowruz Festival of Fire called Chahar Shanbe Soori. These videos are uploaded to the Internet after being filmed by people in the streets, most often with cell-phone video recorders. While I believe they are from March 16, 2010 (today) and that they are authentic, I can’t confirm the veracity of all of them.

The Nowruz Festival of Fire in Iran, called Chahar Shanbe Soori (meaning Red Wednesday) is a ritual that dates back to the pre-Islamic history of Iran. Even prior to the June 12, 2009 rigged elections, this day has been used by people to resist the government.

This year, after nine months of peaceful, dignified uprisings against a rigged election and government that violently suppresses it’s own people, the day has particular significance. Yesterday, Khamenei, the unelected cleric and self-titled supreme leader, issued a fatwa (religious decree) against the fire festival, basically saying it is a pagan ceremony without religious value. He will regret doing so because (as you’ll see from the videos below) the festivities went on, in cities across the nation.

People just didn’t listen to him. In fact, you’ll see from many of the videos that people continued their anti-government protests and chanted slogans against the regime. Even though he has never been known to show any respect for Iran’s cultural heritage before Islam, he should have known that Red Wednesday has tremendous cultural value for Iranians, deeply-rooted, and dating to a time when Zoroastrianism, the first organized monotheistic religion, was the prominent faith in Iran. Not even the Arab invasions of 1400 years ago and the coming of Islam to Iran was able to eradicate it.

By condemning the ceremony, he created the perfect opportunity for the people to defy him, and for this defiance to be captured and viewed extensively inside and outside of Iran. So, as an Iranian, I would like to thank him for undermining his own authority. He has consistently done so ever since he unabashedly declared Ahmadinejad the winner, and authorized brutal crackdowns against protesters.

Here is a collection of the videos from today (I have tried to place some of the more intense or exciting videos near the top):

First, a video from Tabriz, people celebrating the fire festival, fireworks being set off. This video demonstrates real power of the green movement that has fascinated the world and shown us an Iran that has been hidden from view in the West for three decades–notice the number of bright, backlit displays from the cell-phones of people filming the festivities.

Playing with fire in Rasht. One can feel the raw excitement in the crowd:

This video shows a heavy security presence in the streets. The bikers are the notorious “storm troopers” that have been cracking down on the people in every protest day since last June:

A video from Gisha, showing heavy anti-riot police (sometimes referred to in the blogosphere as “Storm Troopers”) presence:

Clashes with riot police in Boroujerd, people chant the now famous and ubiquitous anti-regime slogan of “Marg Bar Dictator!” (Can be translated alternatively as “Death to the Dictator!” or “Down with the Dictator!”, with the former being the literal translation):

A harrowing video from later in the evening. Shouts:
“Go inside! Go Inside!”
“They’re hitting someone! … Go up! Go up! … They’re hitting people!”
People screaming, followed by chants of “Death to the Dictator!”.

A video from Gisha, seems real, but almost unreal. I cannot say for certain that this is legitimate: “Tell them not to go in the street, they’re killing people! …. “Bastard!” … “Leave them alone!” … “Listen… If they would have caught us we would have been screwed!” … “They took them, they took everyone!” And the entire time, in the background terrifying screams:

It’s difficult to see much in this video, but the male voice in the video can be heard asking, “What did they shoot? What did they shoot at you?”. A female voice replies “They fired something!” Some screaming follows, then the male voice says, “The bikers fired something at someone. Allaho Akbar! They attacked again…”. This is followed by chants of “Death to the Dictator!”

In this video a crowd sings a song in tribute to popular opposition leader and green, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and then breaks into chants of “Death to the Dictator!”. This is followed by the singing of the revolutionary song “Yare Dabestani”, and finally chants of “Mousavi! Mousavi! … Karoubi!” (Karoubi is another popular opposition leader).

Yare Dabestani … “Zendanieh Siasi Azad Bayad Kardad!” (Political Prisoners Must Be Freed!) … “Natarsid, Natarsid! Mah hameh bah ham hastim!” (Don’t be afraid, we are all in this together!):

Clashes in Tehran, chants of “Marg Bar Dictator!”:

“Marg Bar Dictator!” videos:

Keyhan, pro-Khamenei newspaper set on fire:

Video showing people dancing to Persian rap music and setting up a bonfire, followed by police forces showing up on the scene:

A video from Tehran:

Loud and powerful fireworks, likely handmade, being detonated:

Amirabad, huge bon-fire, fireworks and revelry:

A video from Shiraz:

Festivities in Bandar Abbas:

Fireworks and bonfires in Ecbatan:

Some videos from Esfahan:

Singing, partying and fireworks in Karaj:

Another Karaj video:

Revelers in Tabriz:

Heavy Security in Tohid Square:

(The majority of the video embeds are sourced from Mehdi Saharkhiz‘s YouTube channel.)