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Ahmadinejad opponents shout protests from rooftops

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said his country is "very worried" about the situation in Iran and criticized the "somewhat brutal reaction" to the election protests.

But both U.S.-backed governments flanking Iran - Afghanistan and Iraq - issued congratulations.

In Tehran, the day was marked by competing protests from both sides.

Less than a 10-minute walk from Ahmadinejad's news conference, protesters raged through streets and lit piles of tires as flaming barricades to block police. About 300 Mousavi supporters gathered outside Sharif University, chanting "Where are our votes?"

By mid-afternoon, tens of thousands of Ahmadinejad supporters filled Vali Asr Street - the same place a massive pre-election rally was held by Mousavi last week. Ahmadinejad's forces waved Iranian flags and green Islamic banners, an obvious response to Mousavi's campaign that adopted green as its trademark color.

Ahmadinejad even donned a green scarf and noted its traditional Islamic references as the favored color of Prophet Mohammad.

"Ahmadinejad is a hero," said a 34-year-old supporter Mohammad Chegini. "He cares for the poor. He is brave and stands up to the West. It is Ahmadinejad who made uranium enrichment a reality in this country."

After dark, came the cries from the rooftops across Tehran.

Using Web chat lines, phone calls and word of mouth, the message was passed for Mousavi's backers to shout "death to the dictator" and "Allahu Akbar." The historical connection of the act was hugely significant for Iranians. It was how the leader of the Islamic Revolution, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, asked the country to unite in protest against the monarchy and was used later to mark its anniversary.

In one neighborhood, anti-riot police tried to disperse people joining in the cries from a street corner, but the crowds threw rocks at the officers and they withdrew.

Mousavi's newspaper, Kalemeh Sabz, or the Green Word, did not appear on newsstands Sunday. An editor, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the paper never left the printing house because authorities were upset with Mousavi's statements.

The paper's Web site reported that more than 10 million votes in Friday's election were missing national identification numbers similar to U.S. Social Security numbers, which make the votes "untraceable." It did not say how it knew that information.

"Don't worry about freedom in Iran," Ahmadinejad said at the news conference after a question about the disputed election. "Newspapers come and go and reappear. Don't worry about it."


Murphy contributed to this report from Cairo.

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© 2009 The Associated Press