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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le régime islamique face à la contestation

by Pierre Barbancey

The Islamic Regime Faced with Demonstrations

Translated Friday 19 June 2009, by Henry Crapo

Iran. Faced with growing demonstrations, Ahmedinejad speaks of liberty and outlaws demonstrations. Moussavi says he is ready for new elections.

The "big celebration" of which the supreme guide, the ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke on Friday, to describe the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential election, has turned into a nightmare. Thousands of demonstrators, mostly young, who contest the result, and who express this contestation in the streets of Teheran, are repressed with violence by the anti-riot police and by motorized toughs with black-jacks. According to our information, the police entered a Teheran campus during the night of Sunday to Monday, at about 3AM. They were supported by a battalion of pasdarans [1] and bassidjis [2] They fired real bullets. Five students were killed, three boys and two girls. This didn’t prevent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad from declaring on Sunday, before his partisans, that in Iran, "Liberty is near-absolute."

The same day, his police announced the arrest of 170 people, including 60 "organizers" of the demonstrations. Among them, the leaders of reform parties. Yesterday morning, in response to a request from the opposing candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi to organize a demonstration in the center of Teheran, from the Place Enqelab to the Place Azadi, the minister of the interior declared that "any sort of march or assembly is forbidden." In the process, the minister announced that publication of Moussavi’s opposition newspaper Kalameh Sabz The Green Word was suspended.

The ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union have asked Iran to inquire into the conduct of the presidential election

Moussavi maintains that the election of Friday, which saw the crushing victory by the incumbent president with 62% of the votes, was marked with "irregularities". Although his house was placed under surveillance, he himself seems rather isolated. Yesterday morning he let it be known that he was postponing the demonstration planned for that afternoon "until a permit could be obtained", all the while calling the minister’s decision "illegitimate". He also launched an appeal to the elite of the Shiite clergy, reproaching it for its silence concerning the election procedures, which, according to him, "violate principles of Islamic law." What’s more, we have not heard from his principal backers, especially Hachemi Rafsandjani who, on the evening of the election, accused of corruption by Ahmedinejad, had raised his voice and predicted that "volcanos will erupt in the society." Without his help, apparently.

Similarly, while Moussavi indicated that he would go to the banned demonstration in company of the other defeated candidate, Mehdi Kerroubi, to "call for calm," Mohammed Khatami, the ex-reformist president from 1997 to 2005, who was the main backer of the candidate, finally explained that he could not participate in the demonstration at Place Enqelab! "We will continue our movement until the results of the election are annulled and a new vote is organized," stated his brother Mohammed Reza Khatami, who affirmed that his brother nevertheless did attend the demonstration. Only the great ayatollah Youssef Sanei, considered to be a reformer, dared to reply, saying "in view of the present circumstances and problems, and because there is never any obstacle to praying, I will pray for you."

The Council of guardians, the judge in electoral matters, yesterday received two reclamations from Moussavi and from the fourth candidate, Mohsen Rezai, former chief of the guardians of the revolution. Moussavi, in particular, calls on the Council of guardians to annul the results of the election. In his entourage, we can see that in the province of Azerbaijan, from which he originates, it is surprising to see him outdistanced by Ahmedinejad. "Everything is ready for an electoral coup d’état and the repression of discontent," some say. A decision will be made in 10 days.

Ahmadinejad obviously refutes these charges of fraud.

The ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union have asked that Iran look into the conduct of the presidential election and deplores "the use of force against peaceful demonstrators." The ambassador of Iran in Paris was convoked by the Quai d’Orsay. But it isn’t this that will shake the foundations of Ahmedinejad’s power. The coming days will be crucial. If the demonstrations continue not only in Teheran but in the rest of the country, the regime in place can be shaken. The announced unity of the most diverse forces (organizations calling themselves reformist, progressives, fighting clergy), will this permit the construction of a movement? At least that’s what they hope, these youth, by the thousands, who march in the streets of Teheran.

[1Guardians of the islamic revolution.

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