Coming up

Don't miss




No strategy and a beige suit

Read more


The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more


The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more


Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more


France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more


Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more


More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more


Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns of further sanctions against Russia

    Read more

  • Experimental Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more


Mousavi defends right to protest against 'lies and fraud'

Video by Kate WILLIAMS


Latest update : 2009-06-22

Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi on Sunday condemned the "mass arrest" of his supporters, and urged his supporters to continue their protests.

REUTERS  - Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi urged his supporters on Sunday to continue their protests over a disputed presidential election, in a direct challenge to the leadership of the Islamic Republic.


Helicopters buzzed through the evening sky over Tehran and gunfire was heard in northern Tehran, a bastion of support for the reformist former prime minister.


"Protesting against lies and fraud (in the election) is your (Iranians) right," Mousavi said in a statement on his website.


"In your protests continue to show restraint. I am expecting armed forces to avoid irreversible damage," he added.


At least 10 people were killed in a crack down on protests on Saturday and Mousavi said the deaths, and the mass arrest of his supporters, would "create a rift between society and the country's armed forces".


Mousavi's comments came the day pro-reform clerics stepped up criticism of Iran's authorities after more than a week of unprecedented popular defiance against the leadership of the Islamic Republic.


A disputed June 12 election which returned to power hardline anti-Western President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sparked the most violent unrest since the Islamic Revolution which ousted the U.S.-backed shah in 1979.


The authorities have dismissed the protesters as "terrorists" and rioters, an indication of their determination to crack down hard on demonstrations.


In pro-Mousavi districts of northern Tehran, supporters took to the rooftops after dusk to chant their defiance, an echo of tactics used in the 1979 Islamic revolution.


"I heard repeated shootings while people were chanting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) in Niavaran area," said a witness, who asked not to be named.


Another witness heard shooting in Zaferaniyeh district in the north of the capital. There were no immediate reports of casualties.


The shooting appeared to be an attempt by the authorities to break up unsanctioned protests. Government restrictions prevent correspondents working for foreign media from attending protests to report.


As authorities fulminated against protesters backing Mousavi, moderate former President Mohammad Khatami signalled increased opposition among pro-reform clerics to Iran's conservative leadership.


"Preventing people from expressing their demands through civil ways will have dangerous consequences," Khatami, a Mousavi ally, said in a statement quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency.


His comment, implying criticism of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has backed a ban on protests and defended the outcome of the election, found an echo with Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most senior dissident cleric.


"Resisting people's demand is religiously prohibited," said Montazeri, an architect of the Islamic revolution who fell out with the present leadership and was under house arrest for some years.


Election 'rigged'


Mousavi, who came second to Ahmadinejad in the poll and whose followers have spearheaded protests, says the election was rigged and must be annulled.


Iran state television said 10 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in protests held in Tehran on Saturday in defiance of a warning from Khamenei. A separate report put the number of deaths at 13.


The harsh tone adopted by the authorities suggested they may be preparing for a crackdown. Police would "confront all gatherings and unrest with all its strength," the official IRNA news agency quoted Tehran's police commander Azizullah Rajabzadeh as saying.


In London, the BBC confirmed that Iran had ordered the broadcaster's correspondent, Jon Leyne, out of the country.


Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari has temporarily been detained in Iran, a source close to the journalist said.


Ahmadinejad meanwhile accused the United States and Britain of interfering in Iran's affairs.


"I advise you (the United States and Britain) to correct your interfering stances," Ahmadinejad was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying at a meeting with clerics and scholars.


U.S. President Barack Obama, in the forefront of diplomatic efforts to halt an Iranian nuclear programme the West fears could yield atomic weapons, met foreign policy advisors for an update on the situation, the White House said in a statement.

Rafsanjani's daughter

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband rejected Ahmadinejad's charge and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Iran to allow peaceful protests and conduct a recount.


Riot police were deployed in force on Saturday, firing teargas and using batons and water cannon to disperse groups of several hundred Iranians who had gathered across the city.


Authorities detained the daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Faezeh, during an opposition rally in Tehran on Saturday, according to state media.


She was detained on Saturday for "alleged involvement in post-election incidents", Iran's English-language Press TV said. Four relatives also detained have been released but Faezeh has "been asked to commit herself in writing not to stir the situation," it said.


The authorities reject charges of election fraud. But the highest legislative body has said it is ready to recount a random 10 percent of votes cast.


Khatami was sceptical. "Referring the dispute to a body which has not been impartial regarding the vote, is not a solution," he said in a statement, Mehr reported.


In Paris, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet told Europe 1 radio that tensions in Iran had added to risks facing the world economy and underlined the need for strengthening the global financial system.


Date created : 2009-06-21