Iran regime calls for `hatred` rally against opposition

Last Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 09:48

Tehran: Iran`s regime said it called a rally in Tehran for Friday to express "hatred" against the opposition movement, as its two key leaders launched fresh anti-government tirades despite demands they be hanged.

Wednesday`s call for the mass rally came as clashes erupted between regime backers and "apparent" supporters of the opposition at a funeral attended by thousands in Tehran of a student killed in anti-government protests of Monday.

"The noble people of Tehran will take to Enghelab Square after Friday prayers with their solid and informed presence," the Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organises regime-backed programmes, said on Wednesday.

It said those joining the rally will "scream out their hatred, wrath and disgust against the savage crimes and evil movements of sedition leaders, their Monafeghin (hypocrites) and their monarchist allies."

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been in the firing line since they called a rally on Monday in support of Arab uprisings but which quickly turned into anti-government demonstrations and ended in clashes that left two people dead and several wounded.

Both are under de facto house arrest and Karoubi`s son, Hossein, said on Wednesday, in a statement on his father`s Sahamnews.org website, that "security forces are currently occupying my house... after breaking into the building...they are searching my and my family`s personal belongings”.

Iranian officials accuse arch-foes the United States, Britain and Israel of influencing the opposition chiefs.

In a statement carried by the ILNA news agency, Iran`s Assembly of Experts, the body which selects the supreme leader, "condemned" the opposition protests and said the "leaders of sedition...best served America and the Zionist regime”.

Iran`s prosecutor general Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie warned that action would be taken against Mousavi and Karroubi.

"The heads of seditions are the people who should be punished for their criminal acts and God willing actions in this regard are being taken," Mohseni Ejeie said, according to Fars news agency.

"People have given them their punishment, but people also have a legitimate right to demand (punishment) from the judiciary which we hope we would be able to fulfil."

The authorities were infuriated when thousands of anti-government protesters took to streets of Tehran on Monday, leading to clashes with riot-police.

Aside from the two deaths, officials reported several people injured, including nine members of the security forces.

Opposition websites reported on Wednesday that authorities arrested around 30 people, including two former reformist lawmakers and 16 students, since Monday`s protests.

The protests, the first anti-government demonstration since February 11 last year, took place despite Mousavi and Karroubi not being able to join them in the streets after their houses were blockaded by the security forces.

The two came out fighting on Wednesday, issuing statements slamming the authorities and praising demonstrators.

Karroubi said in a statement posted on his website, he was ready to "pay any price”.

"I declare that I am not afraid of any kind of threat and as a soldier of this great nation for the past almost 50 years, I am ready to pay any price," he said.

"I am warning that before it is too late, take out the buds from your ears and listen to the voice of the people. Forcing violence and opposing peoples` wishes will last only for a certain time," the cleric said.

Mousavi praised on his own website Kaleme.com the Monday rally as a "great achievement”.

Tension sparked by Monday`s protests continued to ripple on Wednesday when reports said regime backers clashed with opposition supporters at the Tehran funeral of Sane`e Zhale who was killed in protests, state television website reported.

Zhale, a Sunni Kurd, became the centre of a dispute in his death with regime-backers insisting he was member of the volunteer Islamist Basij militia, while the opposition said he came from their ranks.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 09:48

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