US backs Iran protests; Iranian lawmakers want opposition leaders executed

After a day of massive protests in Iran, Secretary of State Clinton affirmed US support for the antigovernment demonstrators while Iranian lawmakers called for opposition leaders' execution.

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    A garbage can is set on fire by Iranian protesters attending an antigovernment protest in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Feb. 14.
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Washington came out strongly in support of antigovernment protests in Iran after a day of massive protests in Tehran Monday, part of the wave of antigovernment revolt sweeping across the Middle East.

Thousands took to the streets in Tehran’s Asadi Square on Feb. 14, showing their solidarity with the Egyptian revolution, according to a BBC report. Police used tear gas and batons to dispel the protesters. One person was reportedly shot dead when the fighting broke out between antigovernment demonstrators and security forces, and dozens have been arrested. Demonstrations were also held in other Iranian cities, such as Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz.

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In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that the United States stood behind the protesters in Iran.

Mrs Clinton said they deserved to have "the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt" and that Iran had to "open up" its political system. …

"What we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people, and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime – a regime which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt," she said.

"We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is once again using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people."

There have not been statements so directly in support of antigovernment demonstrators in other countries rocked by violent protests, such as Jordan, Bahrain, and Yemen, though US officials flew to Jordan Monday to reassure King Abdullah II of their continued support, the Washington Post reported.

Iran responded to Clinton’s comments today: Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said events in the Middle East have “confused” the US because the changes in the regions were blows to world powers and Israel, according to Xinhua news.

Staunch pro-government Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday called for Iranian opposition leaders to be tried and put to death, according to the Associated Press. More than 220 lawmakers issued a statement saying that opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi and former reformist President Mohammad Khatami should be held responsible for the current antigovernment uprising.

"We believe the people have lost their patience and demand capital punishment" for the opposition leaders, the statement said.

Current protests in Iran are the largest in the country since the massive protests in 2009 following the disputed presidential election, which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed to win.

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