“A senior Iranian cleric has called on the government to punish the leaders of the country’s post-election protests cruelly and without mercy.
In a sermon at Tehran University on Friday, Ahmad Khatami described the demonstrators as rioters who wage war against God (”moharem”), a crime in Islamic law, punishable by death.
He also accused foreign journalists of instigating the protests.
Meanwhile, the relatives of citizens detained by authorities sent a letter to the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Shahrudi, and Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, expressing concern for the detainees’ well-being. The letter says they are concerned the detainees, who include prominent reformist politicians, are being pressured to confess to crimes. Iranian authorities have arrested hundreds of people since the election.
… Defeated presidential candidate and reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi vowed on Thursday to resist pressure to end his challenge of the election outcome. He also urged supporters to continue protests in a way that will not create tension.
The Washington Post quoted Khatami as saying “I want the judiciary to . . . punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson. … They should be punished ruthlessly and savagely.”
The good news, what there is of it, is that turmoil apparently continues within Iran’s ruling elite. Another top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, yesterday talked of the need for national reconciliation, an approach that would seem to imply some negotiation or concession from the government.
“Definitively, something must be done to ensure that there are no embers burning under the ashes, and (to ensure) that hostilities, antagonism and rivalries are transformed into amity and cooperation among all parties,” he said.
And according to the BBC, 290 members of the Iranian Parliament were invited to join a “victory celebration” in honor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Only 105 showed up.
In other words, while outward expressions of dissent in Iran have been crushed through violence, it’s not over and may not be over for years. The structure of power has cracked, even if it has not yet fallen.