12/14/2009, 00.00
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Tehran, students who burnt pictures of Khamenei arrested

The Prosecutor General of Tehran promises "zero tolerance" against the demonstrators, guilty of "insulting the imam." Supreme Leader Khamenei accuses the opposition of "undermining the Islamic Revolution." Mousavi rejects the accusations and announces "peaceful protests". ministerial sources: rebellions also supported by figures close to the leadership of the country.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iranian authorities have arrested several people accused of having destroyed photographs of Khomenei, founding father of the Islamic Republic. The state media report that the arrested belong to groups that led  the protests on 7 December. Mir Hossein Mousavi, opposition leaders condemned the desecration of images of Khomenei and promises that the demonstrations will continue "in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law." A response to the harsh accusations made yesterday by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, that criticized - without mentioning names - the ongoing attempts to "undermine the Islamic revolution."

The official IRNA news agency reports that Abbas Safari Dolatabadi, chief prosecutor of Tehran, promises "zero tolerance" against protesters and is ready to charge the detainees. "We will have no mercy - says Dolatabadi - against those who insult the imam (Khomenei) and officials in charge of the system." There is, however, at present, no further information on the identity of those arrested, and whether they belong to the student movement that led the events of 7 December. Yesterday, in a speech broadcast on state television, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accused the reformist opposition of having violated the law by insulting Ayatollah Khomenei. He invited the leaders of the rebellions against the government - while not citing them directly - to return to  "the right path".

Regarding the disputes over the12 June vote that sanctioned the confirmation of conservative candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khamenei reiterated that "the elections are over," they were held in a "lawful" manner and there is no evidence to "prove complaints (of electoral fraud). " "Some people - continued the supreme leader - have created turmoil and encouraged people to stand against the system ... opening the way to our enemies without hope to undermine the Islamic Revolution." The reply of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was immediate; "people have every right to question" and must not be "suffocated with violence." For the future, he asserts that "requests and protests" must be made "in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law."

Mousavi, one Khomenei’s protégées, served as Iran's prime minister between 1980 and 1988, during the war with Iraq, and condemned from the beginning those who burned pictures of the father of the Revolution, a still very popular figure in the country. The opposition leader said, however, that the images are "false" and are the work of ultra-conservatives, who seek pretexts to strike at those calling for reforms in Iran.  

Yesterday, security forces surrounded the campus of the University of Tehran, trapping hundreds of students protesting against "images fabricated by the government" to discredit the leaders of the insurgency. In 1979 the uprising of the students favoured the overthrow of the Shah and the rise to power of Khomenei. For months, the Iranian universities are crossed by a continuous wave of protests and fresh demonstrations have been announced for later this month, coinciding with the feast of Ashura (feast that celebrates the death of the grandson of Prophet Mohammed).

The repression of the Iranian paramilitary forces is explained, in fact, by the feeling of "frustration" that is spreading among the authorities, unable to contain the riots or the block anti-government opposition. Heidar Moleshi, intelligence minister, speaking to a group of law experts close to the regime confirmed that "the opposition movement has breached even the leading figures in the country." Forces that should "defend the supreme leader," added the minister, have joined those who fight against him. "The latest developments - he concluded - are only the tip of an iceberg floating in the ocean."
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