Stern rebuke for Iran's liberals on 10th anniversary
of Khomeini's death
TEHRAN, June 4 (AFP) - Iran's supreme leader delivered a stern rebuke
to liberal reformers within the Islamic regime Friday in a keynote speech
marking the 10th anniversary of the death of the regime's founder, Ayatollah
"We don't need any lessons about freedom from political upstarts,"
Khomeini's successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the hundreds of thousands
of Iranians gathered for the centrepiece anniversary rally.
"Imam Khomeini launched a revolution in order to apply the laws
of the Koran" but he always also insisted on the "primacy of
the role of the people," Khamenei told the crowds.
"Now a group of upstarts wants to teach the Imam and the Islamic
system how to practise freedom of thought and expression," he said.
"What is said about freedom today is in fact an important part
of the movement initiated by the Imam."
The shock 1997 election victory of moderate President Mohammed Khatami
sparked mounting tensions within the Islamic regime between his reformist
supporters and conservative and hardline opponents.
Khamenei urged Khatami's government not to forget the late Iranian
leader's concern for the poorest sections of society and to "pay greater
attention to the economic problems of the country and the well-being of
In his anniversary speech at Khomeini's shrine on Thursday evening
Khatami also clearly alluded to the mounting rift between conservatives
and reformers calling for tolerance to be shown on all sides.
"Rather than bracing for head-on ideological collisions, the people
and supporters of the Islamic revolution should strive to behave in line
with the proprieties set for them by Imam Khomeini," the reformist
"From Islam's point of view, salvation and freedom go together,"
said Khatami, who served as culture minister under Khomeini.
Officials hired thousands of buses to transport people to the ceremony
at Khomeini's mausoleum on the capital's southern outskirts in a bid to
demonstrate the continued popular devotion to late Iranian leader at a
time of deep divisions among his successors.
The whole of Iran's top leadership turned out for the ceremony, the
centrepiece of the regime's celebrations for the 10th anniversary of Khomeini's
death and 100th anniversary of his birth.
Khomeini's disciples were anxious that the event serve as a sign of
the durability of the Islamic revolution under the leadership of the Shiite
Moslem clergy 20 years after the overthrow of the shah.
Vast crowds of men and women, all dressed in black and wearing red
and green headbands, gathered separately before a platform bearing portraits
of Khomeini his son Ahmed and successor Khamenei.
Mourners chanted "down with the US," "Down with Israel"
and "Down with corrupt western culture."
Khomeini's funeral was attended by between eight and 10 million according
to official figures, and officials put Friday's turnout at more than a
Expecting high temperatures, the authorities laid on more than 350
trucks to provide water to the faithful and erected some 2,000 tents as
well as 53 ambulances and a mobile operating theatre.
More than 300,000 pamphlets outlining Khomeini's life with some 100
quotations from the leader of the Islamic revolution were distributed at
Iranian newspapers have been publishing page after page of messages
of condolences from individuals, government departments and companies in
the days leading up to the anniversary of Khomeini's death on June 4, 1989
at the age of 89.