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Iranian Cleric Says Protesters Should Be Ruthlessly And Savagely Punished

By VOA News

A senior Iranian cleric has called on the government to harshly punish leaders of the country's post-election protests. In a sermon at Tehran University on Friday, Ahmad Khatami said rioters should be dealt with cruelly and without mercy. He also accused foreign journalists of fomenting the demonstrations.


Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami delivers Friday prayer sermon, at Tehran University campus, 26 Jun 2009 -
Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts, said the judiciary should charge the leading "rioters" as being "mohareb" or one who wages war against God. "They should be punished ruthlessly and savagely," he said. Under Iran's Islamic law, punishment for people convicted as mohareb is execution (read report by Reuters)

Authorities have cracked down on massive protests led by defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who alleges the vote was rigged. At least 17 people have been killed in clashes with security forces and hundreds have been detained.

Friday, Iran's top legislative body rejected allegations of fraud, calling the disputed June 12 presidential election the cleanest vote the country has ever had.

The official IRNA news agency said the Guardian Council found no major violations in the vote which declared incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner by a large margin.

Both the Guardian Council and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have said the results will not be annulled.

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.  

Friday, opposition supporters paid tribute to a young woman, Neda Agha Soltan, killed during demonstrations.

With the post-election demonstrations, Iran has seen the largest unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  

Iranian authorities have been maintaining a heavy police presence in the streets to disperse crowds.

Iran's crackdown has included heavy restrictions on reporting and the arrest of university professors, journalists and ordinary citizens.  

The official death toll from post-election violence is 17, but witnesses say it is much higher. State media reported Thursday that eight members of the pro-government Basij militia also were killed. The figures cannot be verified because Iran has severely restricted news organizations' abilities to report from the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 06/26/09 ... --

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