Iran's Khamenei warns opposition leaders over 'insult'

Khamenei warned opposition leaders against "insult" to Khomeini.

Iran's Khamenei warns opposition leaders over 'insult'

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned opposition leaders on Sunday, accusing them of violating the law by insulting the memory of the Islamic Republic's revered founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have faced mounting pressure since December 7 anti-government protests during which a poster of late revolutionary leader Khomeini was allegedly torn up.

Declaring that opposition rallies were illegal, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made clear he would not tolerate any more protests by reformers seeking to revive their challenge to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad six months after his re-election.

Tension has increased in Iran since student backers of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi last Monday clashed in Tehran with security forces armed with batons and tear gas in the largest such anti-government demonstration in months.

State television has broadcast footage of what it said were opposition supporters tearing up a picture of late revolutionary leader Khomeini during the Dec. 7 protests.

"They are openly violating the law, they insulted Imam Khomeini," Khamenei said in a televised speech.

Meanwhile, Mousavi has been quoted in the past as condemning the incident relating to the picture.

Some opposition websites suggested Mousavi may be arrested.

Daily Andisheh-ye No quoted Mousavi as saying "I'm sure students would never do such a thing because we all know they love Imam Khomeini."

Former president Mohammad Khatami, a Mousavi ally, urged the authorities not to make Khomeini a "scapegoat" to confront government critics over, ILNA news agency reported.

"Such bothersome issues are the result of... those improper confrontations and arrests and unfair accusations against public-serving figures," he said in comments carried on his website Sunday. "Protesting is our religious and revolutionary duty," he said.

Any detention of Mousavi may provoke new demonstrations.

"Insult"

Khamenei said "some people violated the law, created riots and encouraged people to stand against the system," in a clear reference to senior opposition figures.

"They also prepared the ground for the enemies of the revolution...to insult the system," he said in an address to a group of clerics, who chanted slogans in support of Khomeini.

Khamenei said opposition rallies where illegal and urged the authorities to identify those behind the insult to Khomeini, who led the 1979 overthrow of the U.S.-backed Shah.

Last Monday's protests were much smaller than those in the days after the vote. But the mood seemed more radical.

"Those who stage illegal rallies they have no root in the society," said Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini after his death in 1989. "The election is over. It was legal and they could not demonstrate their claim (of vote fraud)."

The counter-protests were triggered by state television airing footage of a torn poster of Khomeini.

Crowds staged pro-government rallies in cities across Iran on Saturday and Sunday, chanting "Death to America" and "Death to opponents of the Supreme Leader," official media reported.

Rejecting accusations they had insulted Khomeini, pro-reform students held "silent gatherings" in Tehran and the city of Kashan to show their support for him, some websites said.



Agencies

Last Mod: 14 Aralık 2009, 12:15
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