Friday, June 04, 2010

Iran’s Supreme Leader Assails Opposition

Days before the first anniversary of the antigovernment protests that rocked Iran, the nation’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, renewed his attack on opposition leaders on Friday, saying that they had betrayed the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Ayatollah Khamenei spoke on the 21st anniversary of the death of the founder of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, before a large crowd of supporters who had been bused in from around the country.

His castigation of the government’s opponents, whom he did not name, highlighted the continuing struggle over who carried the legacy of Ayatollah Khomeini. The two principal leaders of the opposition, Mehdi Karroubi andMir Hussein Moussavi, have insisted that they, too, are fighting for the goals of the revolution.

Loyalty, Ayatollah Khamenei declared, was measured by one’s position today, not in the past. “One cannot say, ‘I am the follower of Khomeini’ and then align with those who clearly and frankly carry the flag of opposing the imam and Islam,” he said in his address, which was televised.

Protesters have vowed to stage rallies in Tehran and in other large cities on June 12, the anniversary of a presidential election that the opposition charges was rigged to keep President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power. Dozens of demonstrators were killed and hundreds were arrested in the crackdown that followed the election.

The authorities boasted last week that they were bringing more than two million members of the paramilitary Basij force from around the country to Tehran for the Friday ceremony — forces that would remain in the capital to confront any unrest.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also chastised the opposition leaders at the Friday ceremony, promising that they would be “thrown away by the strong hand of the people” for deviating from Ayatollah Khomeini’s path.

At the ayatollah’s tomb on Friday, a crowd disrupted a speech by Hassan Khomeini, the ayatollah’s grandson and a cleric who in the past has sided with the opposition, with chants of “Death to Moussavi,” the Fars news agency reported.

And Mr. Karroubi said in a Friday statement on his Web site,, that he feared that “the republicanism of the Islamic republic establishment had been undermined to strengthen its Islamism.”

He added that he worried for Islamism as well because of the increasing influence of the military in Iran. “We have seen the presence of the intelligence and military apparatus outside the homes of clerics and the incidents that have occurred,” he wrote, referring to the intimidation of opposition clerics by pro-government forces.

He said he had been approached by a dozen people near Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum on Thursday night and was forced to leave after the group began insulting him.

Both Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Karroubi were close aides to Ayatollah Khomeini in the early days of the revolution.

On Wednesday, the judiciary announced that Ayatollah Khamenei had pardoned 81 political detainees. Yet as the mass pardon was announced, judges continued to hand down lengthy prison terms to outspoken critics, and no prominent political prisoners were among those who were released on Wednesday.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a group based in New York, said in a statement that while it welcomed the pardons, the move showed that the detainees had been wrongfully prosecuted in the first place. The group also said it had received reports that at least some detainees had been coerced into asking for pardons.

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