It seemed clear last week that sitting Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a tenuous, at best, hold on popular opinion in the run-up to Iran’s presidential elections. Iran’s huge urban youth population overwhelmingly supported a moderate reformer, Mir Hossein Moussavi, who had promised more personal freedom for Iranians and more outreach to the rest of the world.

Riots have broken out in Iran to protest what is being called a rigged election.

Riots have broken out in Iran to protest what is being called a rigged election. (Photo via Agence France Presse)

When the results came in Friday, they showed that Ahmadinejad had won handily — prompting immediate cries of fraud in Tehran and around the rest of the world. Iranians took to the streets in protest, despite a government ban. Rioters faced police squads equipped with tear gas and clubs; photos and YouTube videos linked to by Twitter users have shown people, including women, being savagely beaten by riot police.

They’re still out there now — in Tehran, perhaps more than a million have gathered in the city’s “Freedom Square,” and reports of at least one fatal shooting are emerging from the protest, now more than 72 hours since it began.

This is going on now, so details are difficult to sort out. Christopher Hitchens, who has spent some time writing about Iran and its leaders, cautions not to call what happened in Tehran an election in his Slate.com column.

Twitterers are providing live coverage (which they have harshly criticized American cable networks for failing to do) of the event, which you can follow using any of these:

#IranElection
Twitterers near Tehran
Real-time images posted via PicFog.

Update: Boston.com has a hi-res series of some of the most stirring images from the ongoing protest. Some are graphic.

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