President Barack Obama on Monday strongly condemned Iran's crackdown on protesters and called on the Islamic regime to immediately free those "unjustly detained."

"The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens," Obama said in Hawaii where he is on vacation.

"We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran," Obama said.

Obama promised to stand behind Iranians during the "extraordinary events," saying that he was "confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice."

But he said that the events were "not about the United States," which is vilified by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or "any other country."

"It's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves," Obama said.

"The decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not continue," he said. "It's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation."

Opposition websites said at least eight people were killed in fierce clashes after thousands of people took to the streets, renewing opposition to Ahmadinejad who was returned to power in a hotly disputed election in June.

Security forces responded with force despite Shiite Muslims' observance of their sacred day of Ashura, which marks the seventh-century martyrdom of Imam Hussein.

"For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their rights," Obama said.

"Each time they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days," he said.

"Each time, the world watched with deep admiration for the courage and conviction of the Iranian people who are part of Iran's great and enduring civilization."

This video is from Fox News, broadcast Dec. 28, 2009.

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With AFP