IRAN: Opposition rallies around Khomeini's grandson after he is heckled by hard-liners
Just days before the one-year anniversary of Iran's disputed presidential elections, the nation's opposition leaders are attempting to rally around an unlikely figure: revolutionary founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's grandson, who was loudly heckled by hard-liners during a ceremony Friday in honor of his grandfather.
Hassan Khomeini, who counts himself as a supporter of the nation's liberal-minded reformist camp, could barely speak over the din at an annual gathering at the mausoleum of his grandfather.
State television had to interrupt its live broadcast as hard-line activists called for the death of Mir-Hossein Mousavi and to those who oppose Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
"The blood in our veins is a gift for our leader," they chanted.
Khomeini implored the people to remain silent, but they kept chanting slogans against Mousavi.
"A small group is making a fuss to keep me from delivering my address," he said. "People resent this small group."
Each of the country's major political factions is attempting to claim the late Khomeini's legacy as its own.
"This guy is flirting with the leaders of the sedition," said Hassan, one of the thousands bused to the ceremony at government expense. "We want to show him that he is not following the path of [Khomeini], though he is his grandson."
The repercussions of the event have been playing out for the last couple of days, with accusations and threats ricocheting within Iran's political establishment.
Late Saturday, Mousavi himself weighed in, describing the current hard-line clique in power as a "suspicious cult."
In comments published to his website, Kalemeh.com, Mousavi accused hard-liners of deviating from Khomeini's path. "Those who oppose fraud, corruption, lie and breach of the Constitution and wrong policies were blamed," he said. "The recent killings and imprisonments stem from such misinterpretations of history and Islamic principles and theology."
Some opposition supporters say Mousavi's strategy is misguided, insisting that Khamenei is far more moderate than his predecessor, the late Khomeini, who reigned when Iranian authorities jailed, imprisoned and executed thousands.
"Khamenei is much better," said one Tehran activist, speaking on condition he not be identified. "Khomeini put pressure on the government to kill. But Khamenei is resisting pressure from hard-liners to kill."
Mousavi also warned that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his clique were leading the country toward a confrontation with the rest of the world.
"Is it not time to ask who is offering golden opportunities to the U.S., Israel, hypocrites and monarchists with the current misleading, non-transparent and annihilating policies?" he said. "Freedom and justice seekers who favor an exalted status for Islam...or suspicious cults who are behind the unemployment of laborers, teachers, employees, farmers and all poor people."
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Video: Hard-liners chant slogans against Hassan Khomeini as he tries to deliver a speech in honor of his grandfather. Credit: YouTube
Photo: Screen shot of Hassan Khomeini from YouTube video.