Friday, June 19, 2009

Iran's Supreme Leader Calls Election Fair and Warns Protesters to Stay off the Streets

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has given a speech defending the results of the election and gave a warning to protesters to cease protests and stay out of the streets. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reportedly in attendance during this speech. From the Guardian:

The speech now creates a clear dilemma for Mousavi and his supporters: do they return to the streets in open defiance of Khamenei or drop their demands? Prior to today's speech, Mousavi had called on the opposition movement to gather in Tehran tomorrow afternoon for a rally, but many may now feel too fearful of a crackdown by the authorities.

"Arm wrestling in the street must stop," Khamenei said. "I want everyone to put an end to this. If they don't stop this … they will be held accountable for all of this."

The ayatollah insisted that it was "natural" for people to support different candidates but that the foreign media was responsible for portraying supporters of Mousavi as opposed to the Islamic revolution.

"Enemies try through various media, and some of these media belong to the Zionists … they try to make believe that there is a fight between supporters of the opposition and the Islamic establishment," said Khamenei. "They have no right to say that, that is not true."

Khamenei's threats, that there will be accountability should the protests continue, certainly puts an added level of tension in air on this issue. It has been striking to watch the peaceful protesters march en masse through the city streets and call for their voice to be heard, but there is certainly a sense that something is going to happen. Andrew Sullivan weighs in:

I think we find one clue to why he rigged the vote count so crudely. His argument that a majority of eleven million was too big to allow for any irregularities suggests he believed that a big lie was the only one that would work. But if you utter a big lie, you had better hope it could persuade some. It appears to have persuaded no one but a few fools at the Washington Post and the executive editor of the New York Times.

And the endless attempt to blame all this on Britain and the US and the "Zionists." This is a regime that is so hermetically sealed, so rigid in its dogma, so brutal in its ideology it probably believes its own lies. It is, as David Brooks notes today, very, very fragile. When every piece of data requires a reassertion of doctrine in order to banish reality from people's minds, government becomes impossible. All that is possible is brute force and terror.

I fear deeply what is about to happen. But I also sense that the Gandhi-strategy of the majority is a winning one. If they can sustain their numbers and withstand the nightly raids, and if they can overwhelm the capital tomorrow in another peaceful show of strength, then they can win. And the world will change. This is their struggle now, requiring the kind of courage that only God can provide. Their God, my God, the God of the Torah and the Koran and the Gospels.

Something is happening in Iran.

and more frightening reports on the Basij in the New York Times:

The vigilantes plan to take their fight into the daylight on Friday, with the public relations department of Ansar Hezbollah, the most public face of the Basij, announcing that they planned a public demonstration to expose the “seditious conspiracy” being carried out by “agitating hooligans.”

“We invite the vigilant people who are always in the arena to make their loud objections heard in response to the babbling of this tribe,” said the announcement, carried on the Web site Parsine.

The announcement could be the first indication that the government was taking its gloves off, Iranian analysts noted, because up to this point the Basijis, usually deployed as the shock troops to end any public protests, have been working in stealth.

Some new videos have also come out from this past week in Iran. Here is video of the attack on Tehran University earlier in the week:

Here is a video from Monday's protests that show a demonstrator being shot:

It is also being reported that the soccar players who wore green writstbands in their World Cup qualifying match have been suspended.

There was some pressure for Google to turn their page "green" to show support for the protests in Iran, but instead of doing this, they added a Persian/Farsi translator to their services so that people can translate articles and tweets to English.

and finally, some tweets coming out of Iran:


i'm rlly feeling sad & disappointed after Mr. Khamenei's speech 2day. Will Mousavi step back from his requests? What about ppl?


I see pure evil in khamenei, threatening peaceful demonstrations with even greater violence...#iranelection


RT @persiankiwi confirmed - the Gov has refused to issue a permit for Sea of Green march at 4pm on Saturday in Tehran - #Iranelection

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