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    Iran's Supreme Leader Demands Strong Action Against Protesters

    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (file photo)
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (file photo)

    Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is once again calling on government security forces and the judiciary to act decisively against anti-government demonstrators. The call echos similar pleas by other regime officials in recent days.

    The pro-government audience shouted out the name of Ayatollah Khamenei in addition to the usual chants of "death to America," "death to Israel," and "death to the hypocrites," a term which has come to mean most opposition leaders and their supporters.

    During his long speech to a visiting group of Revolutionary Guard commanders and Basiji militiamen and their families from the holy city of Qom, Khamenei lashed out at opposition demonstrators, saying that government authorities must act against the protestors:

    The authorities (of the Islamic Republic), he says must implement the letter of the law firmly and completely. We must, he stressed, act vigilantly and with open eyes, in order to stop the enemy in its tracks. Those without responsibility or legal duty, he added, must not interfere in the process.

    Khamenei blasted the opposition, saying that "many young Basijis and (other government supporters) were hurt by the insults of a small group (of opposition protesters) to Ashoura, Imam Hussein, and (Islamic Republic founder) Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeinei."

    He did, however, caution pro-government supporters, in an apparent gesture to demands by opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, from "taking any action on their own," arguing that "innocent people may be seriously hurt."

    At least eight people were killed during clashes between government security forces and opposition activists on the Shi'ite Islamic holy day of Ashura. Many reformist leaders, activists, journalists, and students were arrested during and after the protests.

    Khamenei also tore into Western governments and the Western media for supporting the opposition, complaining that "oppressive powers, ignorant people linked those powers, and other deviants" have been "trying to overthrow to the Islamic establishment (for a long time)."

    Despite the Ayatollah's strong words about cracking down against the opposition, many students inside Iran continue to demonstrate against the government, like those at Tehran's Sharif University, according to opposition websites. Students at other universities are even refusing to take exams.

    Several days ago, Iranian government TV showed a group of young opposition protesters in a small court-room as charges were read out against them. The prosecutor indicated that their trials would begin next week.

    Several pro-government members of parliament recently urged that death sentences be imposed on some opposition activists, for being what they termed "moharam," or enemies of God.

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