Iran regime drums up its own crowds to oppose Green Movement
On Wednesday, the Islamic Republic of Iran organized national demonstrations and struck out at reformist supporters of the Green Movement. On Sunday, protests against the government turned violent, killing at least 37 people during the key religious holiday of Ashura.
On Wednesday, the Islamic Republic of Iran reacted to last Sunday’s violent demonstrations by marshaling supporters in countrywide demonstrations and launching a media offensive against the opposition Green Movement.Skip to next paragraph
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At least 37 people were killed Sunday on the deadliest day of rioting since June’s disputed presidential election, which saw hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned to office amid widespread elections of fraud. For the first time, demonstrators switched from nonviolent tactics to engage the police with stones and batons. In response, the police fired tear-gas and bullets.
Government-funded newspapers lashed out Wednesday at the thousands of demonstrators who fought running battles with security forces during Shiite Islam’s major festival, labeling them “apostates” and calling for their “arrest and execution."
“Hossein’s Intifadah: So many troops came out for the love of the Leader,” trumpeted the pro-Ahmadinejad Raja News agency. “The people spontaneously roar: 'Don’t give protection to the leaders of the discord,' ” was the front-page cover of Kayhan, a newspaper that acts as a mouthpiece for the Islamic Republic.
On Wednesday, state television showed clips of pro-government crowds demonstrating against the opposition movement in cities around Iran. “Mass mobilization is always a very useful tactic used by revolutionary ideological governments, and these guys are good at it,” said Farid Mirbagheri, chairman of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus.
Police chief Ismail Ahmadi-Moghadam called a press conference to deny claims of official heavyhandedness against protesters either in Sunday’s violence or in the wave of arrests that followed. Among the allegations was a charge that the nephew of defeated presidential candidate and leading Green Movement figure Mir Hossein Mousavi was murdered on government orders.
“No police force in the world would tolerate rioters attacking a police commander, destroying religious shrines, and insulting religious values by burning flags of mourning,” Mr. Ahmadi-Moghadam said in an emotional press conference.
The government’s counterstrike has included arresting more than 1,000 people, mostly in highly populated urban centers of dissent like Tehran, Esfahan, and Mashhad. Human rights activists in Iran are describing cramped prison conditions and a deterioration in police behavior toward detainees. Police chief Ahmadi Moghadam vowed that the police would no longer display “restraint."
After the first wave of political arrests, following the election, credible charges were made from a number of quarters about the use of torture in detention centers.
The regime turned to allied religious scholars to shore up its legitimacy. The conservative right-wing Resalat newspaper carried on its front page the reaction of five grand ayatollahs condemning the “sacrilege perpetrated against Ashura.” Several important religious authorities have remained silent since the summer elections, withholding the blessing they traditionally bestow.