IRAN: Opposition seeks permit to march in support of Egyptian uprising
Iran's two main opposition leaders have called on Tehran's hard-line rulers to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have asked the Interior Ministry, which is controlled by an acolyte of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, to allow for a march at Tehran's Azadi Square on Feb. 14 in support of the Egyptian uprising and the Tunisian revolution.
Iran's hard-line authorities won't approve a permit for the march, especially at the same site where up to 3 million anti-government protesters staged a rally on June 15, 2009.
These days, only rallies by supporters of the Iranian government, often bused in and handed free food, are allowed.
But the audacity of the request suggests how the political contagion wending its way through the Arab world may affect Iran, a non-Arab Muslim country that nonetheless maintains strong connections to its neighbors.
Khamenei, who has been either president or supreme leader of Iran as long as Hosni Mubarak has been the man in charge in Cairo, has praised the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings as an "Islamic awakening" similar to Iran's 1979 revolution.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's main Islamic opposition group, quickly dismissed the characterization, and the White House likened the uprising to Iran's 2009 revolt against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection.
But Mousavi, a former prime minister, and Karroubi are asking authorities to let Iranians show their support for the fight against tyranny, according to Kaleme, Mousavi's website (in Persian).
"In order to show solidarity with the popular movements in the region and specifically the freedom-seeking movement embarked on by Tunisian and Egyptian people against their autocratic governments," says a letter addressed to the Interior Ministry, "we hereby request permit to call for a rally –- as Article 27 of the constitution authorizes – on Monday, Feb 14, 2011, at 3 p.m. from Imam Hossein to Azadi Square."
Photo: Hundreds of thousands of supporters rally in Tehran for then-presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi on June 15, 2009. Credit: Ben Curtis / Associated Press