Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday warned the opposition of tough measures ahead of planned protests at next week’s anniversary of the disputed June 12 presidential polls last year.
“Those who want to tarnish the image of the country and its system will be removed from the (political) scene,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech marking the 21st anniversary of the death of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founder.
The election was overshadowed by fraud charges which led to prolonged street protests, with the opposition neither acknowledging the election results nor Mr. Ahmadinejad’s re—election.
The government suppressed the protests and accused the opposition leaders of being agents of the West.
“The election last year was the most democratic in the world as nowhere else 40 million would turn up for elections,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “With the election, we actually broke the world record in democracy”.
“Whoever stands against the Islamic system will not survive,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, quoting the late ayatollah Mahmoud Taleqani.
The protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad led to a wave of arrests and more than a hundred protestors, including former ministers and lawmakers, have been sentenced to long jail terms.
At least 36 people were killed in the protests. The opposition claims the number was higher. Two were executed and six others are on death row.
The opposition has applied for permission to hold a protest rally June 12. It is widely believed the interior ministry will reject the request.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also used the occasion to criticise the opposition.
“Those who are against the basic structure of the Islamic system and the (1979) revolution cannot be tolerated and the people would not remain silent towards them,” the leader said.
Mr. Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini in 1989 and has the final say on all state affairs, backed Mr. Ahmadinejad after the election and rejected fraud charges.
The opposition is currently led by former prime minister Mir—Hossein Mossavi, former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and the two ex—presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi—Rafsanjani.
“There have been many people who were with the imam (Khomeini) before and after the revolution, some of them even on the plane with the imam (when heading back from exile in France to Iran), but many of them were later arrested and some of them even executed for betrayal,” Mr. Khamenei said.
“Important is the status quo and full belief in the basic structure.
“We cannot just make individual amendments to Islam just because some in Western countries do not like it or for the sake of making new friends,” Mr. Khamenei said.
All four opposition leaders had called for a more moderate stance on Islam.