Thu, Feb 17, 2011 - Page 6 News List

FALLOUT FROM NORTH AFRICA: Iran regime calls for ‘hatred’ rally

NO PEACE IN DEATH:Sane’e Zhale, who was killed during mass protests on Monday, was claimed by both government supporters and the opposition during his funeral

AFP, TEHRAN

People carry a poster of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi dressed as Uncle Sam yesterday during the funeral in Tehran, Iran, of San’e Zhale, a student who was shot dead during an opposition rally on Monday. The poster on right reads: “BBC and [Mirhossein] Mousavi are British agents.”

Photo: Reuters

Iran’s regime has called a rally in Tehran tomorrow to express “hatred” against the opposition movement, as its two key leaders launched fresh anti-government tirades despite demands they be hanged.

The call for the mass rally came as clashes erupted between regime backers and “apparent” supporters of the opposition at a funeral attended by thousands in Tehran of a student killed in anti-government protests of Monday.

“The noble people of Tehran will take to Enghelab Square after Friday prayers with their solid and informed presence,” said the Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organizes regime-backed programs.

It said those joining the rally will “scream out their hatred, wrath and disgust against the savage crimes and evil movements of sedition leaders, their monafeghin [hypocrites] and their monarchist allies.”

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been in the firing line since they called a rally on Monday in support of Arab uprisings, but which quickly turned into anti-government protests and ended in clashes that left two people dead and several wounded.

Iranian Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie yesterday said action would be taken against Mousavi and Karroubi, a day after lawmakers and a radical cleric demanded they be executed.

“The heads of seditions are the people who should be punished for their criminal acts and God willing actions in this regard are being taken,” Mohseni Ejeie said, according to Fars news agency.

“People have given them their punishment, but people also have a legitimate right to demand [punishment] from the judiciary, which we hope we would be able to fulfill,” he said.

Amid growing calls that they be punished, Karroubi and Mousavi came out fighting yesterday, issuing statements slamming the authorities and praising demonstrators.

Karroubi said in a statement posted on his Web site Sahamnews.org that he was ready to “pay any price.”

“I declare that I am not afraid of any kind of threat and as a soldier of this great nation for the past almost 50 years, I am ready to pay any price,” he said.

“I am warning that before it is too late, take out the buds from your ears and listen to the voice of the people. Forcing violence and opposing peoples’ wishes will last only for a certain time,” the cleric said.

In a separate statement on his own Web site Kaleme.com, Mousavi criticized the authorities and praised the protesters for Monday’s rally, which he said was a “great achievement for the great people of a great nation and for the Green Movement.”

Tension sparked by Monday’s protests continued to ripple yesterday, when according to reports, regime backers clashed with opposition supporters at a funeral.

“Students and people participating in the funeral of martyr Sane’e Zhale in Tehran Fine Arts University are clashing with a few apparently from the sedition movement,” the state television Web site said.

Zhale, a Sunni Kurd, became the center of a dispute with regime-backers insisting he was member of the volunteer Islamist Basij militia, while the opposition said he came from their ranks.

Opposition Web site Rahesabz.net said Zhale was “pro-Mousavi and a member of the Green Movement.”

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