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Tehran clamps down on protests
Opposition leader detained
TEHRAN | Authorities placed one of Iran’s opposition leaders under house arrest Thursday, posting security officers at his door and detaining one of his aides, in response to his calls for a rally in support of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt, his website said.
Iran’s hard-line rulers - who also have tried to capitalize on the uprising against their regional rivals in Egypt’s U.S.-allied regime - are seeking to deprive their own opponents at home of any chance to reinvigorate a movement swept from the streets in a heavy military crackdown.
The leader confined to his home, Mahdi Karroubi, had joined Iran’s other top opposition figure, Mir Hossein Mousavi, in asking the government for permission to hold a Feb. 14 rally in support of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
State Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi rejected the demand on Wednesday and warned of repercussions if the rally takes place.
Instead, he said those seeking to show solidarity with Egyptian protesters should join a state-organized rally marking the 32nd anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution on Friday.
Security officers were stationed at the entrance of Mr. Karroubi’s house in Tehran on Thursday and prevented relatives, including one of his sons, from meeting him, according to Mr. Karroubi’s website, sahamnews.org.
A security official informed Mr. Karroubi that the restrictions would remain in place until after Feb. 14.
He and Mr. Mousavi are the main political adversaries of the hard-line leadership.
Both men ran against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an election in June 2009 that the opposition believes was rigged. Mr. Mousavi, who campaigned on a platform calling for social and political reforms, maintains he was the rightful winner.
The protests that swept Iran in the days after the vote grew into a larger movement opposed to Iran’s ruling system. It was the biggest challenge faced by Iran’s clerical leadership since it came to power in the 1979 revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah.
Hundreds of thousands peacefully took to the streets in support of Mr. Mousavi, and some powerful clerics sided with the opposition.
But a heavy military crackdown suppressed the protests, and many in the opposition - from midlevel political figures to street activists, journalists and human rights workers - were arrested. The opposition has not been able to hold a major protest since December 2009.
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