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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Un climat de plus en plus tendu à Téhéran

by Pierre Barbancey

A Climate More and More Tense in Teheran

Translated Sunday 21 June 2009, by Henry Crapo

Iran: The demonstrations continue without interruption, forcing the supreme guide to speak publicly today, on the occasion of the great prayers.

A week ago, there was the presidential election in Iran. Who would have thought that in a matter of 24 hours, millions of Iranians would be marching in the streets, expressing their exasperation by the most diverse of methods (SMS, Twitter, ...) still in their possession? Whether there was electoral fraud or not, it’s a veritable need for oxygen that is being expressed every day. Yesterday, there were still hundreds of thousands present for a dirge and memorial after the death of eight demonstrators killed by the regime’s militia. In contrast to the earlier revolts that have marked the history of the Islamic republic, this time it is not just the youth, not just the students, who defy censure and the interdictions of power.

No mass repression

The wave is so strong that the supreme guide, Ali Khamenei, is careful, for the moment, not to initiate a mass repression. In the columns of the Kayhan, an Iranian newspaper appearing in English, he presents himself as an apostle of a return to calm. "The climate of friendship which prevailed before the election should not turn into confrontation and enmity, because the two blocs of electors both believe in the Islamic system," he explained.

The Council of guardians of the revolution thus received, yesterday, the three candidates declared beaten in the presidential election, for discussion of the 646 complaints received concerning the election results. The council is composed of a dozen members, six religious and six jurists, all appointed. it is the body that interprets the constitution, and which can even veto the Parliament. It has the power to judge electoral matters. Its spokesman, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodai made it clear: "We have initiated a detailed examination of the complaints that have been communicated to us, and have begun to classify them." If the council is ready to proceed to a new partial recount, it has nevertheless excluded the possibility of annulling the vote, as Mir Hossein Moussavi has demanded.

While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been relatively quiet, the supreme guide has stepped into the breech. It is he, who, today, will speak on the occasion of the great Friday prayer, something that happens only two or three times a year. Each time, it is in a context and with a purpose both well-determined, and his sermon treats both internal and external political matters. Before being supreme guide, when he was president of the Islamic republic, in 1984, Ali Khamenei explained, concerning the Friday preachers, the imam-e-jom’e, that they were "great pillars of the revolution, the voice of the guide, and the strong arm of general mobilization."
Twenty-five years later, he makes this declaration more his own [1].

Hamid Najafi, editor in chief of Kayhan, questioned by Reuters,
is certain; the sermon pronounced by Ali Khamenei will be "very effective for all those who have been led astray. Naturally, everything should return to calm and order."

The bassidjis become menacing

The voluntary Islamic militia, the Bassidjis, are not mistaken, but prefer to keep all the luck on their side. Those who were leading the repression of the demonstrations all week, called for their members to attend the sermon today, to listen to the guide, to show their support and determination. The Bassidjis are becoming menacing. They have warned the candidates for the presidential election who contest the reelection of the outgoing president "explicitly to break off with the demonstrators." This is the same menacing tone adopted by the press agency Borna, which is related to the national youth organization. It criticizes those religious dignitaries who have not congratulated Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "What does this silence mean? .. Dear dignitaries, give us some interpretation of your silence before others step in to do so," writes the agency.

Two other opponents, among whom Ebrahim Yazdi, long time colleague of Imam Khomeyni and general secretary of the Movement for liberty, as well as Mohammed Tavasoli, were arrested on Wednesday. On the other hand, the Assembly of experts, the most important religious organ, saluted the massive participation in the presidential election of 12 June. While it passed in silence concerning the reelection of the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it blamed the demonstrations on "an ememy that could not stand to see the dutiful nature and unity (of the people)", "they create troubles and riots with the aid of these agents." This assembly is directed by the ex-president Akbar Hachemi Rafsandjani, who, prior to the elections, supported Mir Hossein Moussavi. Even today, the Iranians are called upon to demonstrate for Moussavi. He should speak in Teheran, with, at his side, the former president Mohammed Khatami.

[1Cited by
Sepideh Farkhondeh, in his book Société civile en Iran, published by Éditions l’Harmattan.

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