Tehran, June 25: In an open snub to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over 100 Iranian MPs ignored an invitation to be part of celebrations over his electoral win, local press reports said on Thursday.
According to the latest news report, out of all 290 MPs, 105 did not turn up to participate in the victory party, hinting at the deep rift inside political circles after disputed June 12 elections.
Meanwhile, website of key protest leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has claimed that the authorities on Wednesday arrested 70 university professors immediately after they held a meeting with the defeated presidential candidate.
It was not clear where the academics were taken, the report on the Kalemeh website said.
The professors detained were believed to be among a group that has been pushing for a more liberal form of government. The detentions signal that the authorities are increasingly targeting members of Iran`s elite.
Hundreds protesters and activists are believed to have been taken into custody since the June 12 vote, in which Iran`s ruling clerics declared hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner by a landslide. The government has also set up a special court to deal with the cases of people arrested in more than a week of unrest and threatened harsh sentences.
Widespread protests erupted after the election, amid allegations of massive fraud. Since then, at least 17 people have been killed as authorities gradually intensified their crackdown.
The state-owned newspaper, Iran, reported on Thursday that in addition to the 17, seven members of the pro-government Basij militia were killed in post-election clashes, and dozens more injured by weapons and knives. The report could not be independently verified.
Top Iranian dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri warned today that continued suppression of opposition protests could destabilise the government.
"If Iranians cannot talk about their legitimate rights at peaceful gatherings and are instead suppressed, complexities will build up which could possibly uproot the foundations of the government, no matter how powerful," the cleric said in a statement.
Montazeri also urged the authorities to set up an "impartial" committee with full power to find a solution to the election crisis.
"My recommendation to the great and dear Iranian nation is to pursue its logical and fair demands in complete calm," he added.