Iranian Citizens Take to Web to Capture Protests, Violence

After authorities restricted all foreign journalists, many Iranians have taken to Twitter.

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BY Brian Kates AND Kate Nocera


DAILY NEWS WRITERS The revolution will be tweeted.

After Iranian authorities restricted all journalists working for foreign media from firsthand reporting on the streets on Tuesday, many Iranians have taken to Twitter, a social networking site, to send pictures and messages to the outside world about the violence and protests happening on the ground.

They've grabbed the attention of the State Department, who has asked Twitter to refrain from shutting down for scheduled maintenance during the crisis, CNN reports.

Since Iran's ruling blocks images and eyewitness descriptions of the protests and violence, the State Department is paying close attention to the social networking sites.

Meanwhile, Iran's Islamic leadership is set to conduct a targeted recount in the disputed presidential elections, as violence escalated Tuesday in the Muslim state.

The offer by the Guardian Council for a new tally at sites where fraud is alleged marks the first direct action by authorities to address claims of vote-rigging in Friday's disputed election.

The move came in the aftermath of clashes with pro-regimime militia in Tehran that claimed at least seven lives, according to state radio.

It falls short of a demand by challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi to completely annul the election, which gave anti-U.S. strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another four years of power.

The protest movement has shown no signs of easing.

Mousavi's backers planned another mass rally in Tehran Tuesday. But Mousavi said he would not  attend it and urged suporters not to "fall in the trap of street riots" which could lead to more deaths or mass arrests.

Mousavi's supporters have taken to Twitter and other social networking sites to communicate.

One Twitter user described to the AP the kind of alerts he has been sending out. The user would only identify himself as Mohsen,

“…what I see in the streets, about police hitting people, and people who are not police who are hitting Mir Hossein supporters," he said. "These are frames of horror and hate. I think one of the strategies the authorities are doing is stopping news and information, and I use whatever I can to stop them from doing that."

Monday, the Twitter site listed top topics people were tweeting about as "IranElection," ''Mousavi" and "Tehran." In one 10-minute period, 12 users who identified themselves as being within 50 miles of Tehran posted Tweets, the AP reports.

Tweeters in Iran have been sharing ideas about how to avoid being censored, where and when protests were taking place, giving the world up to the minute updates on police violence. Other users have been posting pictures of the images on the street.

Iranian state radio reported that Monday's deaths occurred during an "unauthorized gathering" after protesters "tried to attack a military location," an apparent reference to crowds that attempted to storm a compound for volunteer militia linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard.

An Associated Press photographer on Monday saw gunmen, standing on a roof, opening fire on a group of demonstrators who tried to storm the militia compound.

Angry men showed their bloody palms after cradling the dead and wounded who had been part of a crowd that stretched more than five miles.

The 12-member Guardian Council includes clerics and experts in Islamic law. It is closely tied to Suspreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who back downed Monday from his endorsement of the results.

Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, arrived in Russia on Tuesday to attend a summit.

"The international capitalist order is retreating," said in a defiant message to the West. "It is absolutely obvious that the age of empires has ended and its revival will not take place."

In Washington, President Obama said on Monday he was "deeply troubled" by the protests and said an inquiry into the disputed presidential election should go ahead without violence.

Former hopeful Sen. John McCain, who lost to Obama in last year's election, criticized the president and called on him to "speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election and that the Iranian people have been deprived of their rights."