Iranian hardliners lash out at opposition after protests

Theological students rally against "insult" to Khomeini

Hardliners today accused Iran's reformist opposition of seeking the removal of key pillars of the Islamic Republic, including the office of the supreme leader, and of insulting the memory of its late founder.

Conservative clerics spoke out against the opposition a few days after pro-reform students, seeking to renew their challenge to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad six months after his disputed re-election, clashed with police in Tehran.

"What they are after is to have a thin layer remaining of the Islamic Republic," Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said in a speech in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom, IRNA news agency reported.

Theological students staged rallies in Qom, Tehran and elsewhere to protest against an "insult" to late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, official media said.

State television has broadcast footage of what it said were opposition supporters tearing up and trampling on a picture of Khomeini during anti-government demonstrations on Dec. 7.

A nationwide rally on that day to mark the killing of three students under the Shah turned violent when reformist students clashed with security forces armed with batons and tear gas in the largest such protests in months.

"There will be no leniency towards those who insulted the Imam," said Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, referring to Khomeini, who spearheaded the 1979 overthrow of the U.S.-backed Shah and who remains widely revered in Iran.

Backers of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, a moderate who came second in the June vote, say it was rigged to secure a second four-year term for Ahmadinejad.

The authorities have rejected vote fraud charges and portrayed the huge pro-Mousavi protests that erupted after the poll as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic state.

"They are after an Islamic Republic without Islamic jurisprudence and without the Guardian Council," Khatami said, referring to the institution of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and a powerful 12-member legislative body.

The comment was echoed by a senior cleric in the northwestern city of Tabriz, Ayatollah Mohsen Mojtahed Shabastari, who said the opposition's intention was "to get rid of the supreme leader", IRNA reported.

Monday's opposition protests in Tehran and elsewhere were much smaller than the demonstrations that erupted in the days after the June 12 presidential election.

But the mood seemed more radical with protesters chanting slogans against the clerical establishment and not just criticising Ahmadinejad's victory.

A day after the protests, a senior judiciary official said Iran would "show no mercy" towards opposition demonstrators seen as threatening national security, comments underlined by a Revolutionary Guards official on Saturday.

"Although we are quiet today at the order of the supreme leader, we are ready and prepared to firmly confront Islam's enemies and counter-revolutionaries with a signalling of his finger," said Ayoub Hassanzadeh, a cleric who is Khamenei's representative in the Guards' airforce.

State television showed pro-government rallies in different cities, with people chanting: "Death to America" and "Death to opponents of the supreme leader."

Iranian daily Jomhuri Eslami said Mousavi condemned the "insult" towards Khomeini. "No just and pious human being would allow himself to do such a thing," he was quoted as saying.

The June election plunged Iran into deep political turmoil and exposed deepening divisions within the establishment.

Thousands of Mousavi supporters were detained after the vote, including senior reformers. Most have been freed but about 80 people have received jail terms of up to 15 years and five have been sentenced to death over the post-vote unrest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn