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Iran Opposition Moves Ahead with Rally Plan, Despite Warnings


A protester holds up a poster of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi (L) and reformist former president Mohammad Khatami during an anti-government rally in Tehran, 27 Dec 2009

A protester holds up a poster of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi (L) and reformist former president Mohammad Khatami during an anti-government rally in Tehran, 27 Dec 2009

Iranian opposition leaders are moving forward with plans to hold a rally Monday in Tehran in support of successful anti-government uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Iran's Interior Ministry has refused to grant permission for the rally, which one government official has termed "riots for seditionists."

Iranian reformist leader Mehdi Karroubi has been placed under house arrest, presumably in connection with the request to stage the rally. But on Sunday a renewed call for the demonstration appeared on both Karroubi's website and one belonging to another opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

A statement on Karroubi's website Kaleme called the Iranian government's restrictions a sign of "weakness and fear" over the "most peaceful" civil and political demonstration.

Iran's government leaders have voiced support for the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed they represented an Islamic awakening in the region.

The Iranian opposition leaders say the anti-government protests in Egypt and Tunisia were similar to those that took place in Iran following the 2009 presidential election which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Mousavi and Karroubi labeled that election rigged and helped organize protests that were eventually put down by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

On Saturday, U.S. National Security advisor Tom Donilon urged Iran's government to allow the Iranian people the same rights to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate that were being exercised in Cairo.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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