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Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei warns opposition ahead of key anniversary

Just ahead of the one-year anniversary of Iran's disputed presidential election, supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei told Iranians to be watchful for opponents. But he also has pardoned or commuted sentences in recent days for 81 detainees jailed during protests.

By Staff Writer / June 7, 2010

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) waves to his supporters as Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, looks on during a ceremony to mark the death anniversary of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, at Khomeini's shrine in southern Tehran June 4, 2010. Iran's supreme leader warned government opposition prior to the one-year anniversary of the country's disputed 2009 presidential election.

REUTERS/IIPA/Sajjad Safari

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Iran’s hard-line leadership warned the opposition movement against serving as “soldiers of the bullying powers” as the one-year anniversary looms next week of Iran’s disputed presidential election.

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Supreme leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei told Iranians Friday to be watchful for opponents who had strayed from the path of the 1979 Islamic revolution and the directives of one of the Islamic Republic’s most sacred icons, its late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – known affectionately among followers as “Imam," one of the highest ranks in Shiite Islam.

Widespread rejection of the official results of the June 12 vote, which installed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term with an unlikely landslide, prompted cries of fraud and weeks of bloody street protests that killed scores and turned into the worst political crisis in Iran in three decades.

Khamenei warned that opposition protests were a “scandal” and “not acceptable,” and that finally, Iranian unity behind the regime had “showed such great power it dazzled the whole world.”

 “The followers of the Imam, and those who do not approve of the Imam’s path and find it wrong, are easily distinguishable,” Mr. Khamanei declared on Friday to tens of thousands of Iranians as they marked the 21st year since Mr. Khomeini’s death at his mausoleum south of Tehran. State-run TV said “millions” of Iranians turned out on Friday to mourn Khomeini, but the live footage of the event appeared to show tens of thousands both inside and around the shrine compound.

Khamenei accused opposition leaders, all of them former top office holders for many years, of betraying the revolution, the ideals of Khomeini, and Islamic teachings.

 “You cannot find yourself following the Imam’s path but at the same time be in cahoots with those who rise against the ideas of the Imam. That’s just not possible,” Khamenei said, according to the translation of the live broadcast on state-run PressTV.

 “You cannot accept [support of] the US, UK, CIA, Mossad … and be among their ranks, and then say you are also a follower of the late Imam—that is not acceptable,” said Khamenei.

 The statements come as opposition leaders attempt to stage next week a mass rally to mark the first anniversary of the election, an event that in its aftermath brought millions of Iranians onto the streets in unprecedented protest weeks last year.

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