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.
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“The dignity of the anniversary does not deserve what this small group is doing,” he said, referring to those who disrupted his speech with chanting. The ILNA news agency reported that other members of the Khomeini family left in protest after the incident, according to the Associated Press.Skip to next paragraph
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Leaflets showing grandson Khomeini at past events alongside opposition leaders were reportedly handed out by hard-liners at the event. During Khamenei’s subsequent speech, state TV showed him sitting with his head in his hands in apparent dismay.
As the crowd shouted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" – though without the passion of past performances – Khamenei spent time explaining that even going back to the first famous Shiite imams of the 7th century, a positive past record was no substitute for current poor performance.
He sought to explain how former regime stalwarts strayed from the true path of the revolution, and should be held to account today. Clear in his sights were opposition leaders Mr. Mousavi, prime minister for most of the 1980s who was close to Khomeini, former two-time parliament speaker and presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, and former two-time president Mohammad Khatami.
“If the present status of an individual [does not reflect the good work of] the past, then we should ignore that past,” Khamenei said. He noted that some followers of Khomeini had traveled with him from exile in Paris to Tehran in 1979, but were later executed because their changing ideas forced Khomeini to “push them from him.”
“So the yardstick for passing judgment is the present situation,” Khamenei stated.
The supreme leader has declared that rejecting the results of the June 2009 vote is the “biggest crime.” Key opposition and reformist figures have been given stiff prison sentences, and a handful linked to the protests have been executed. Top officials have charged that US, British, and Israeli hands were behind street demonstrations that aimed to topple the regime in a “velvet revolution.”
Khamenei nevertheless has pardoned or commuted sentences in recent days for 81 detainees jailed during protests. The official IRNA news agency reported that they had repented for their actions.
In a letter requesting the pardons, Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani wrote: “When the nature of the unrest was revealed and the plots hatched by the enemies became crystal clear, a number of these … individuals came to their senses, regretted their deeds, repented, and are now requesting to be pardoned.”
Fars News Agency, which is linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said opposition leader Mr. Karroubi was heckled on Thursday night by hard-liners chanting “Death to the hypocrites!” when he went to the shrine to pay his respects to Khomeini. The founder of the revolution had appointed him to serve as the head of the powerful martyr’s foundation during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
“They speak in a way as if the Imam belongs to them only and others have broken path with the Imam,” Karroubi later said on his website Sahamnews, according to Agence France-Presse.
“I am worried about the Islamic aspect of the regime,” the cleric added about the political contest between religious rule and democracy in Iran. “They have ruined the republic side of the regime in the name of Islam.”
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