News / Middle East

Leading Iran Cleric Dilutes Calls to Execute Opposition

Iranian regime loyalists hold a poster with doctored pictures of former president Mohammad Khatami (L) and opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi (C) and Mehdi Karroubi on the gallows during a pro-government demonstration in Tehran, February 18, 2011
Iranian regime loyalists hold a poster with doctored pictures of former president Mohammad Khatami (L) and opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi (C) and Mehdi Karroubi on the gallows during a pro-government demonstration in Tehran, February 18, 2011

Multimedia

A top Iranian cleric played down calls to execute opposition leaders on Friday, saying their movement has already lost its credibility and prestige.

Following Friday prayer, thousands of supporters of Iran’s government gathered in Tehran, and worshippers called out “Death to Moussavi! Death to Karroubi!”

Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi are leaders of Iran’s opposition Green Movement.

The two men have encouraged their supporters to rally in solidarity with Arab states that have revolted against their governments in recent months.

Both have been under effective house arrest this week. The government describes them as "seditionists" and conservative MPs have called for their trial and execution.

But on Friday, hard-line cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said execution was needless.

Jannati said the two are already executed and dead. He said they have been disgraced and dishonored and instead they should be isolated completely and should become prisoners in their own homes.

The rally on Monday was the first time Iran’s Green Movement has demonstrated publically in a year. The opposition movement emerged after the disputed 2009 presidential election, which returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Anthony Skinner, an Iran expert with the Britain-based risk analysis group Maplecroft, says rallies in support of the government like the one held Friday, are not uncommon in Iran.

"We've seen this level of support also in the aftermath of the 2009 elections too, that there is a core of individuals who support Ahmadinejad, who support the regime," said Skinner. "And to a certain extent it is also fueled by the regime itself in order to show that it has a base, to show that this is not a one-dimensional uprising as such."

Video footage from Iran

Skinner says despite violent rhetoric surrounding Mousavi and Karroubi, Iran’s leadership may be cautious with how it deals with the opposition leaders.

"Rumor has it that the Supreme Leader himself Khamenei is hesitant because of the backlash this might precipitate, this might trigger effectively - that there might be an even stronger movement as a result if the leadership of the movement is taken out," he added.

Opposition websites have made calls for another rally on Sunday.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs