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Iran Arrests Protesters Over Torn Khomeini Photos

VOA News 14 December 2009

Iran has arrested several protesters for allegedly tearing up a photo of the founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Tehran prosecutor Jafari Dolatabadi said Monday those arrested remain in detention and have confessed to tearing up the photo of Ayatollah Khomeini during protests on December 7.

Sunday, Iran's supreme leader accused the pro-reform opposition of insulting the Islamic Republic's founder and trying to undermine the Islamic system. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the opposition's relentless protests were disrespectful.

Hundreds of opposition students demonstrated again Sunday at Tehran University. They said the government is falsely accusing reformers of setting the images ablaze in an attempted smear campaign.

A message on the ("Kalameh") Web site of defeated presidential candidate and reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi warned that "propaganda in the government-run media could lead to something new and unexpected."

It asked supporters to remain "alert."

State television had broadcast footage of what it said were opposition supporters destroying photos of both Ayatollah Khamenei and Ayatollah Khomeini during the December 7 protests.

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Sunday called for punishment of the demonstrators who tore up or burned photos of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

Mr. Mousavi was quoted Saturday as saying his supporters would not allow any insult against Iran's supreme leader.

Supporters of Mr. Mousavi and other reformist leaders held mass protests earlier this year after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad secured a second term in a disputed June election. The post-election demonstrations were the largest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The opposition accuses Mr. Ahmadinejad of rigging the vote.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



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