BEIRUT, Lebanon – Iran’s hard-line president on Friday demanded the prosecution of top opposition leaders, raising the political temperature anew just a day and a half after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sought to cool tensions in a conciliatory speech.
During a pre-sermon speech at weekly prayers in Tehran, the Iranian capital, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not explicitly name his reformist rivals, such as former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and former parliamentary speaker Mahdi Karroubi, but he left little doubt he was speaking about them in calling for the punishment of those he termed the “masterminds” of weeks of public unrest that followed his disputed June 12 re-election victory.
“The most important task for the judiciary and security bodies is to deal seriously with the leaders and masterminds” of the unrest, he said, undermining the peacemaking tone set by Khamenei earlier this week.
“All of those who organized and instigated (the riots) and followed the enemy line have to be seriously confronted. The masterminds of the riots should by no means enjoy any immunity.”
The crowd inside the Tehran University venue chanted, “Execution for the ringleaders!”
Detainees in an ongoing televised trial have accused reformist leaders, including Mousavi, of being behind the unrest and collaborating with Iran’s foreign rivals. Ahmadinejad’s comments appeared to confirm reports that he has personally been behind efforts to haul leading political opponents into court.