Secret service agents and police clashed with an estimated 6,000 antigovernment protesters in Iran's capital who rallied late Tuesday even after college student activists chose to obey a ban on demonstrating. The protest marked the third anniversary of a brutal crackdown against students in the worst violence since the country's 1979 Islamic revolution. It was followed by the resignation of Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, a popular prayer leader in the city of Isfahan, who said "The country's interests require justice and freedom, both of which have been sacrificed and trampled" by the hard-line Islamic establishment. Taheri's attack was seen as unprecedented since he was appointed to his post by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution.
The verdict is expected by Monday in the trial of four men charged with the kidnaping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Final arguments in the case ended Wednesday, with the prosecution demanding that Muslim militant Ahmed Omar Saeed and three codefendants be executed. Their attorneys, wrapping up four days of summation, argued that the evidence was "doubtful" and that the case should be dismissed. The trial began April 22.
TV programming was interrupted in Pakistan for a special announcement that military ruler Pervez Musharraf ordered elections for a new parliament to be held Oct. 10. The legislature has been disbanded since he seized power in a 1999 coup. Under orders from the Supreme Court, Musharraf had promised the vote to restore democratic government, although he ensured a five-year continuation of his own rule in a national referendum disputed by opponents as dictatorial. He's scheduled for a speech tomorrow to explain his plans for reforming the electoral laws.
For the first time, the ailing prime minister of Turkey conceded that the nation might need an early election, although he told an influential newspaper they "would be wrong." A vote has been demanded by defectors from his wobbling government, now numbering 34 among them six Cabinet ministers. By law, an election need not be held until 2004. In an interview with the mass-circulation Milliyet, he repeated assertions that he saw no need to resign.