Iran's Supreme Leader Blames West for Student Protests
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Americans are at the top of Iran's list of enemies and the British are the most dreadful of those enemies
Last updated on: February 24, 2010 8:42 AM
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted the United States and other Western countries for stirring up trouble inside Iran, a day before students are expected to hold peaceful demonstrations on university campuses across Iran.
Both the Iranian government and student opposition activists are gearing up for what many are expecting will be a large turnout of demonstrators, Monday, on university campuses across the country.
December 7 is known as "national students' day" in Iran, and it marks the anniversary of the 1953 slaying of three students by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi's security forces, following a coup against populist Prime Minister Mohammed Mosadegh, earlier that year
Eyewitnesses say hundreds of students have received threatening emails, this week, warning them not to participate in Monday's demonstrations. Pro-government Basij militia members are also reported to be present in large numbers on campuses across the country.
Internet connection speeds in Iran are also reported to be extremely slow, amid word the government is again trying to hamper communications between Iranians and the outside world. Foreign media have also been warned not to cover Monday's rallies.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out against the West, saying it was responsible for sowing discord inside the country.
He says that today, the propaganda of arrogant nations of the world is the main source for the existence of conflict inside Iran.
The Ayatollah also used extremely virulent language against the United States and Britain, calling them Iran's top enemies.
He says Americans are at the top of Iran's list of enemies and the British are the most dreadful of those enemies. He also asserted the United States and other nations have tried to isolate Iran for the last 30 years, but have failed and will continue to fail.
Meanwhile, security forces reportedly arrested a number of women protesters at a Tehran park, who meet regularly to protest their children's detention in government prisons.
The Iranian government arrested hundreds of student activists, journalists, intellectuals, political leaders and professors during weeks of unrest following a disputed June 12 presidential election that incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad claims to have won, despite complaints of widespread vote-rigging.
Analyst Ali Nourizadeh, of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, says the Iranian government is doing its best to prevent students from protesting, but he thinks student determination to go ahead with Monday's rallies is stronger:
"The regime has already started four, five weeks ago arresting students. And many students received warnings that they will be expelled from universities, and [the government] has sent hundreds of their basij and basij students to certain universities," he said. "Therefore, they are prepared, but I think the determination, and students will to show their strength, to show that they are not frightened, ... is stronger than the regime's intimidation and threats."
Nourizadeh also says that the students have reportedly invited their parents to participate, in order to prevent security forces from attacking them.
Iran's top police official, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddem, told a Tehran newspaper that any "illegal gathering outside universities will be harshly dealt with."