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IRAN: Opposition comes out swinging as revolutionary anniversary approaches

February 8, 2011 |  9:24 am

Iran-karroubi2 Iranian opposition leaders slammed the government and ruling elite on Tuesday, just three days before the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, accusing them of exploiting religion in order to suppress popular resistance to their rule.

"Unconditional obedience to power holders is enshrined in divinity and sanctity, refusal to question the rulers is an act of piety and any criticism is ridiculously interpreted as hypocrisy and conspiracy with foreigners and Zionism," read a statement issued by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi on the opposition website Kaleme (Persian link).

The statement went on to criticize the government's reaction to the protest movement that erupted after the disputed June 2009 presidential elections.

"Alas, what happened to the election’s outcome following a quasi-coup by authoritarians denied the nation its basic right to determine its own fate," the statement continued.

"But the arrest of protesters, roughing them up in the streets, killing a large number of men and women in the streets and detention centers, the student dormitory and Kahrizak scandals, storming the residences and offices of grand ayatollahs, busing in people for staged shows, propaganda campaign, slanders, libels, suppressing laborers, teachers, students, professors and women movements, organizing shameful carnivals and security maneuvers to spread fear, distracting public attention from main issues, immoral treatment of the families of martyrs and prisoners and announcing the death of the Green Movement in different official ceremonies have all failed to save the autocrats from the main challenge they face -– people’s distrust of the government."

The government's violent crackdown drew international condemnation but succeeded in driving the so-called "Green Movement" into a dormant state for the time being. Recent statements by Mousavi and Karroubi suggest they are hoping the popular protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere around the Arab world will revive the Iranian opposition movement.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Mehdi Karroubi. Credit: Agence France-Presse