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Wife of Iranian Opposition Leader Says Home Was Attacked

The wife of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi claimed on Monday that pro-government demonstrators attacked and vandalized the apartment building where their family lives in Tehran. The reported incident comes in the lead-up to possible anti-government demonstrations for the traditional Iranian fire festival, Wednesday.

Several Iranian opposition Web sites are reporting that demonstrators attacked and vandalized the residential building that is home to opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi.

Ayatollah Karroubi's Sahamnews Web site, quoting his wife Fatimah, reported that around 50 people held a noisy demonstration in front of the their building "with the support of [government] intelligence forces and police."

Fatimah Karroubi also complained that the demonstrators "vandalized the building," and shouted slogans for Mr. Karroubi to be put on trial or put to death.

Photos on various Web sites showed red spray-paint graffiti covering several walls of the building, including the threats of "Death to Karroubi," and "death to [opposition leader Mirhossein] Mousavi."

It was not the first time that Karroubi - the reformist former speaker of the Iranian parliament - or his entourage have come under attack in recent months.

Houchang Hassan-yari, who teaches political science at the Royal Military College of Canada, says that Karroubi has repeatedly come under attack.

"Karroubi is identified as one of those who has created a lot of problems for the Islamic regime in the past few months since the election," said Houchang Hassan-yari. "His political party's office has been closed by the authorities, his newspaper Etemad Melli has been shut down, he himself was attacked and shot at when he was in Qom, he was also attacked during the anniversary of the revolution, his son was very, very badly beaten by the authorities. All this shows that Karroubi is somebody who is seen as a source of trouble for the regime and one who is challenging the regime very effectively, because of his past, being a very close associate of [Islamic republic founder] Imam Khomeini."

Scott Lucas of the University of Birmingham in Britain, who is behind the popular Iran blog Enduring America says that the Iranian government is trying to silence Karroubi.

"I think generally the government would be happy to keep Karroubi in a box and to stop him speaking out, but he hasn't exactly been that vocal in the last few days," said Scott Lucas. "They're able to put a lid on the more overt opposition of the Green Movement and of Mousavi and Karroubi. There's a regime strategy in terms of the confrontation sites and now, where it's coming from, or who's basically calling the shots on it: that's an interesting question, whether this is Revolutionary Guard, whether it's Ministry of Intelligence, whether it's folks around the supreme leader…"

Lucas also notes that, in addition to targeting Karroubi and Mousavi, the Iranian authorities are using a strategy of arresting and pressuring both journalists and human rights activists into silence.