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Opposition Members Are Detained in a Tense Iran

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/world/middleeast/15iran.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a1 Opposition Members Are Detained in a Tense Iran By ROBERT F. WORTH and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 14, 2009

      Opposition Members Are Detained in a Tense Iran
      Published: June 14, 2009

      TEHRAN — The Iranian authorities detained more than 100 prominent opposition members, and on Sunday unrest continued for a second day across Iran in the wake of the country’s disputed presidential election.

      The leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, issued a fresh statement calling for the election results to be canceled, as his supporters skirmished with a vast deployment of riot police and militia members on the edges of a victory rally organized by the government in central Tehran.

      A moderate clerical body, the Association of Combatant Clergy, issued a statement posted on reformist Web sites saying the election was rigged and calling for it to be canceled, warning that “if this process becomes the norm, the republican aspect of the regime will be damaged and people will lose confidence in the system.”

      President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the opposition’s allegations of large-scale election fraud, saying his landslide victory had given him a bigger mandate than ever. He hinted that Mr. Moussavi — who remained at home Sunday with the police closely monitoring his movements — might be punished for his defiance.

      “He ran a red light, and he got a traffic ticket,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said of his rival, during a news conference at the presidential palace.

      Those arrested were from all the major opposition factions and included the brother of a former president, Mohammad Khatami. Some were released later in the day.

      Calling the opposition protests “unimportant,” Mr. Ahmadinejad suggested that they were the work of foreign agitators and journalists. But he also seemed to throw down the gauntlet to other nations, saying, “We are now asking the positions of all countries regarding the elections, and assessing their attitude to our people.”

      But Mr. Ahmadinejad’s electoral rivals appeared to be holding firm in their protest against the vote.

      Mr. Moussavi issued a statement saying he had asked Iran’s Guardian Council, which must certify the election for it to be legal, to cancel the vote. He also said he was being monitored by the authorities, and was unable to join his followers. His campaign headquarters have been closed down, he said.

      Another candidate, the reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi, echoed Mr. Moussavi’s demand for the election to be canceled.

      “I am announcing again that the elections should not be allowed and the results have no legitimacy or social standing,” Mr. Karroubi said. “Therefore, I do not consider Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of the republic.”

      Mr. Ahmadinejad also spoke at a square in central Tehran, surrounded by thousands of flag-waving protesters in what was clearly intended to be a show of popular support for his election victory. But the smell of tear gas and smoke drifted over the cheering crowds, and only a few blocks away, groups of protesters chanted their own slogans against the government, and bloodied people could be seen running from baton-wielding police officers.

      As night fell, chants of “God is great!” could be heard from rooftops in several areas of the capital.

      “No one led these people in the streets,” said Basu, 28, an opposition supporter who, like many others, was afraid to give his full name. “This is the least we can do; we cannot stay at home and watch them celebrate a fake election.”

      He opened his shirt to show long, red welts on his chest where a Basij militia member had whipped him with a chain. Next to him, a female friend dressed in a black chador stood with a bloody scar on her forehead; she said she had been attacked by the police.
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