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Iranian Opposition Calls For Rallies Online Despite Crackdown

By VOA News

Iranian opposition Web sites are still calling for a rally Thursday in Tehran, despite the government's ongoing crackdown that has included arrests of university professors, journalists and ordinary citizens.

"We Are Countless"
Pre-election campaign in Mashhad, Iran


In a statement posted on his official Web site Thursday, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said his access to supporters has been highly restricted and he is facing pressure to withdraw his election challenge.

He said at least 70 university professors were detained after meeting with him on Wednesday, a day marked by clashes between police and protesters near Iran's Parliament in the capital.

Mr. Mousavi, who lost to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 12 presidential elections, has alleged massive fraud in the vote. But Iran's supreme leader and the Guardian Council say the election will not be reversed.

At least 17 people have been killed and hundreds arrested in post-election demonstrations.

On Thursday, President Ahmedinejad called on U.S. President Barack Obama to stop "interfering" in Iran's affairs, following the American leader's comments about Iran's election and the violence against demonstrators.

President Obama on Tuesday said he was "appalled and outraged" by the beatings and arrests of protesters who say the vote was rigged in favor of the Iranian president.

Iranian media quoted the Iranian leader as saying President Obama's recent comments mirror the hardline stance taken by his predecessor, former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Millions have participated in peaceful rallies in Tehran and other cities. However, on June 19, the Supreme Leader Khamenei ordered crackdown on further protests. Since then the protesters have faced harsh measures by the security forces.

Reports from the opposition say nearly two-thirds of Iranian lawmakers and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani did not attend a victory dinner party hosted by President Ahmadinejad late Wednesday. It is unclear if an invitation to the dinner was extended to all 290 members of the parliament.

A top Iranian dissident cleric on Thursday warned Iranian leaders that continued suppression of dissent could destabilize the regime.

In a statement, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri also called for the creation of a neutral body to help resolve the election crisis. Montazeri was once seen as a possible successor to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran's disputed vote has triggered the country's greatest unrest since the 1979 revolution, and the government has created a special court to try the hundreds of Iranians it has arrested in the post-election turmoil.

Reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has canceled a mourning ceremony set for Thursday. Witnesses to clashes between protesters and security forces have put the toll much higher than 17. Figures cannot be verified because Iran has severely restricted news organizations' abilities to report from the country.

... Payvand News - 06/25/09 ... --

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