Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are seeking government permission to stage a peaceful demonstration to express "solidarity with the people's movements in the region, especially the freedom movements of the people of Tunisia and Egypt against their oppressive regimes."
Mehdi Karroubi (L) and Mir Hossein Mousavi
They made their request in an official letter to Mostafa
Mohammad Najjar, Iran's Interior Minister, Kaleme website reports.
The rally would be held on February 14 at 3 p.m., running from Imam Hossein Square to Azadi Square.
The revolts in the Arab countries have become a political football in Iran. On the one hand, the Islamic Republic establishment has tried to paint the protests as an "Islamic uprising" in line with it own political views, on the other hand, the opposition has described the protests as an extension of Iran's massive street protests in 2009, which challenged the legitimacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government and was confronted with violent crackdown by the Islamic Republic.
Mousavi and Karroubi were both presidential candidates, and they allege Ahmadinejad was elected through vote fraud. In the past year they have repeatedly applied for demonstration permits, so that the protesters would be spared the bloody attacks by security forces which led to the deaths of dozens of demonstrators following the 2009 elections.
The government has refused each request. The Iranian far right, headed by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has accused the opposition leaders of fomenting a seditious movement aimed at toppling the regime.
In comparing the protests in Egypt and Iran, Mousavi has said: "Today in Egypt, despite all tensions and conflicts, protesters are allowed to demonstrate in order to establish which group has greater support. Therefore we believe that if Iranians were also allowed to demonstrate, it would become fully apparent which movement enjoys a greater social and popular base."
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