Iranian Parliament Speaker Lashes Out at West, as Crackdown Widens
Edward Yeranian | Cairo 29 December 2009
The Iranian government has widened its efforts to crack down on the opposition, arresting scores of journalists, political leaders, students and professors. The arrests were accompanied by a stepped up media campaign to discredit the anti-government protesters who fought running street battles with security forces on Sunday.
Iranian government TV went on the offensive Tuesday showing images of pro-government demonstrations across the country, including a group of women in Isfahan chanting slogans in favor of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The media campaign was accompanied by harsh rhetoric against the West by political leaders, and a series of new arrests including key opposition figures.
Among those reportedly arrested in recent hours were Shapour Kazemi, brother-in-law of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, whose nephew was killed during the Sunday protests.
Also reported to have been arrested, Nooshin Ebadi, the sister of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and journalists Mohammed Javad Saberi, Badrosadat Mofidi, Nasrin Vaziri, Masha'allah Wa'ezzin, and Keyvan Mehregan.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani lashed out at the opposition, calling its supporters "blasphemers and counter-revolutionaries."
Larijani says that parliament demands the government, including the Interior Ministry and Intelligence Ministry and the judiciary system arrest these blasphemers and consider harsh sentences without mercy against these people who oppose the Islamic revolution."
Larijani also suggested that recent protests were fomented by the United States and other Western powers. He also blasted President Barack Obama's statement Monday of Iran's "violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens," saying that Mr. Obama should worry about "human rights abuses by U.S. troops in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq."
Larijani also went on to ridicule Senator John Kerry for his recent proposal to visit Iran, calling U.S. policy towards Iran duplicitous and deceitful.
He says Senator Kerry sent a written request to visit Iran a while ago. Might it not be better, he asks, to put a stop to U.S. double-standards against Iran than coming to visit.
The Iranian parliament appeared to be half empty during Larijani's speech, but hardline government supporters at the session chanted "death to America" and "death to Israel" in addition to organizing what government TV called a "march against the West," in the aisles of parliament.
Mohammed Karamirad of parliament's national security committee also called on Iran's judiciary to "cut off the hands behind seditious acts by rioters who challenge the very foundations of the system."
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottakli lambasted the West, especially Britain, for fomenting protests in Iran, saying that "recent rioting wouldn't be acceptable in any country of the world," adding that "outrageous declarations show their duplicity." He went on to insinuate that the West was behind the opposition and its protests.
Government TV also spoke of a crackdown at top Iranian universities against students "responsible for seditious acts." The government reports also quoted pro-government clerics who criticized so-called "lackies" in the clergy. Hardline Ayatollah Nouri Hamadani slammed recent demonstrations insisting that they were provoked by Israeli and Western intelligence agencies.
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