Iran’s hardline rulers are set to punish reformists linked to the boldest anti-government protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution, despite the damage this might inflict on the system’s legitimacy and relations with the West.
Now that security forces have quelled the street turmoil that erupted after a disputed June 12 presidential election, the leadership is preparing to put on trial some of the hundreds of political activists and opinion-makers detained since the vote.
Hints abound that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shocked by the furore over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in a vote critics say was rigged, is striking back. The editor of hardline Kayhan daily urged on Saturday that losing candidate Mirhossein Mousavi and reformist ex-President Mohammad Khatami be tried for their “terrible crimes”.
On Friday, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of the Guardian Council that certified the election, said British embassy local staffers accused of inciting unrest had confessed and would face trial. They include the mission’s chief political analyst.
The hardline Javan newspaper said 100 lawmakers had asked the judiciary to prosecute the leaders of “post-election riots”, citing Mousavi and another defeated candidate, Mehdi Karoubi.