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Terrorism & Security

Iran arrests 70 professors who met with Mousavi

The move signals that the regime is widening its crackdown from street protesters to the political and intellectual elite.

By / June 25, 2009

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Iran arrested 70 university professors who favor a reform of the country's political system overnight, spreading its crackdown beyond protesters on the streets to members of the country's political and intellectual elite.

The Associated Press – citing a web site close to Mir Hussein Mousavi, the centrist presidential candidate who observers both inside and outside Iran say had the country's June 12 election stolen from him – reported that the professors were arrested shortly after attending a meeting with Mr. Mousavi.

Even as the regime did so, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, once the hand-picked successor of the father of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, condemned his government's behavior. This came amid signs that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the populist and anti-Western president who claimed victory in the election, was losing some of his old supporters.

There [were] also indications that the disputed election has caused a rift among former Ahmadinejad supporters. Several Tehran newspapers reported Thursday that only 105 out of 290 members of parliament attended a victory celebration held by Ahmadinejad on Tuesday. Among the no-shows was Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

Writing in Lebanon's The Daily Star, columnist David Ignatius predicts that in the short term "the thugs who claim to rule in the name of God" will carry the day, but that the brutal opposition crackdown, now symbolized by the murder of young protester Neda Soltan, whose death was caught on video, will ultimately lead to fundamental change.

They have exposed the weakness of the clerical regime in a way that Iran's foreign adversaries – America, Israel, Saudi Arabia – never could. They have opened a fundamental split in the regime. The rulers will try to bind this wound with force, and salve it with concessions, but neither approach will make the wound heal.

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