'I am not afraid of martyrdom,' Iran opposition leader Mousavi declares
Times Online / Martin Fletcher

On Wednesday state-sponsored rallies in Tehran and other cities chanted “Death to Mousavi” and heard repeated calls for him and Mehdi Karoubi, the other opposition leader, to be charged as mohareb, or enemies of God, for which the Sharia punishment is death.

A previously unknown group of vigilantes vowed to kill the opposition leaders unless the courts took action against them and, that night, the state news agency IRNA reported that the two leaders had fled Tehran to escape the people’s wrath — a claim that was swiftly denied.

At Friday prayers in Tehran yesterday the hardline cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati kept up the pressure, demanding that the “heads of sedition” be swiftly punished.

Yesterday’s statement was Mr Mousavi’s response. “An order to execute, murder and imprison [opposition leaders] won’t resolve the problem,” he said. “Assuming you impose silence through arrests, violence, threats and muzzling newspapers and websites, how can you remedy the people’s changed attitudes towards the regime? How can you address its lack of legitimacy?”

He demanded the release of political prisoners, a free press and the right to demonstrate peacefully. He denied wanting to overturn Iran’s constitution, saying: “We want an honest and compassionate government that considers diversity of opinion and the popular vote to be opportunities, not threats.”

Addressing the regime’s charge that he is a puppet of the We... >>>

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