Burning of imam's picture sparks uproar in Iran
Los Angeles Times / Ramin Mostaghim

Reporting from Tehran - Political turmoil built today over the burning of an image of Iran's revolutionary founder, which was aired, in a controversial move, on state television. Accusations that the incident was carried out by anti-government demonstrators sparked protests as well as threats against reformist leaders.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei today said reformist politicians and anti-government demonstrators had defiled the image of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, during Student Day protests last week. He said the incident showed that the protest movement that sprang out of the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad now sought to overturn the Islamic Republic.

Opposition supporters, however, said the incident was staged by hardliners loyal to Ahmadinejad and aired on TV to discredit their cause.

Tensions rose as police surrounded Tehran University, a hotbed of political activism, where students staged a protest rally today to convey their stand that they were not behind the burning. The official Islamic Republic News Agency said protests also broke out on other Tehran campuses. News agencies reported that Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of opposition figurehead Mir-Hossein Mousavi, addressed the students.

Seminary students across the country on Saturday demonstrated against the burning of Khomeini's image. And 232 lawmakers supported a statement condemning the burning and praising state television for broadcast... >>>

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