Iran regime calls for ‘hatred’ rally in Tehran against opposition

This photo, taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran shows Iranian protestors throwing stones at anti-riot police officers, during an anti-government protest in Tehran, Iran on Monday, February 14. (AP Photo)
TEHRAN, February 16 (AFP): Iran's regime said it called a rally in Tehran Friday to express "hatred" against the opposition movement, as its two key leaders launched fresh anti-government tirades despite demands they be hanged.
Wednesday's 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 Mon ay.
"The noble people of Tehran will take to Enghelab Square after Friday prayers with their solid and informed presence," the Islamic Propagation Coordination Council, which organises regime-backed programmes, said Wednesday. 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 demonstrations and ended in clashes that left two people dead and several wounded.
Iranian officials blame arch-foes the United States, Britain and Israel of influencing the opposition chiefs, but supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday their efforts will fail.
"When people are in the arena, it (US) cannot do anything against the determined will (of the people)", he said, referring to the United States and indicating that Iran's Islamic regime had strong support of masses. Iran's prosecutor general Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie warned that action would be taken against Mousavi and Karroubi, a day after lawmakers 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."
The authorities were infuriated when thousands of anti-government protesters took to streets of Tehran Monday, leading to clashes with riot-police. Aside from the two deaths, officials reported several people injured, including nine members of the security forces.
The protests, the first anti-government demonstration since February 11 last year, took place despite Mousavi and Karroubi being placed under de facto house arrest.
The two came out fighting on Wednesday, issuing statements slamming the authorities and praising demonstrators. Karroubi said in a statement posted on his website, 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.
Mousavi praised on his own website the protesters for Monday's rally which he said was "great achievement for the great people of a great nation and for the Green Movement."
Tension sparked by Monday's protests continued to ripple on Wednesday when reports said regime backers clashed with opposition supporters the Tehran 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 website said.
Zhale, a Sunni Kurd, became the centre of a dispute in his death with regime-backers insisting he was member of the volunteer Islamist Basij militia, while the opposition said he came from their ranks.
"This university student (Zhale) was shot around Enghelab Square by small arms fire. He was a student of fine arts and defender of the regime," said state news agency IRNA. Opposition website said Zhale was "pro-Mousavi and a member of the Green Movement," referring to the opposition movement.