Reporting from Tehran and Beirut – The white-turbaned cleric is an unlikely enemy of the Iranian state. He was a confidant of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and served seven years as speaker of parliament.
But at 72, in the wake of Iran’s disputed presidential election, Mehdi Karroubi has become the fiery heart of a protest movement that has shaken the republic’s foundations.
“I feel I am obliged to defend the rights of people,” Karroubi said Monday during a rare interview with a Western news organization at his sparse north Tehran office. “I want it to be remembered in the future by coming generations that somebody someday from the clerical establishment stood up for his stances and principles to defend the people.”
On Tuesday, authorities stormed his party’s headquarters in west Tehran. They seized documents, computers and photographs and arrested Mohammad Davari, editor of his website, a party spokesman said. They also arrested Ali-Reza Beheshti, the top aide to Karroubi’s ally Mir-Hossein Mousavi, reformist websites reported.