Iranian Parliament Speaker blames US for protests in Iran
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says the United States is behind anti-government "sham" protests cloned off the pro-democracy movements in Tunisia and Egypt.
"The main purpose was to clone [the protests] so they could claim that the crises plaguing US-linked dictatorships in the region has spread and that Iran -- which has been the forerunner of democracy in the region -- is also having internal problems," Fars news agency quoted Larijani as saying on Tuesday, referring to the popular uprisings in the North African countries that toppled two longtime rulers.
The remarks came one day after supporters of defeated candidates in the 2009 presidential elections, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, gathered in parts of the Iranian capital.
Tehran says members of anti-government groups, including the anti-Iran terrorist group Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), disrupted the protests by staging riots and shooting on bystanders. Two people were killed and several others injured.
Referring to the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, the parliament speaker said "roots of the Islamic awakening" in the region were in the hostile and condescending attitude of the United States and Israel toward Muslims.
Larijani added that the US, "angered" by Iran's support of the pro-democracy protests in the region, orchestrated such "sham rallies" to break the will of those nations heading toward revolution.
"The US must know that by such hypocritical moves, it will further tarnish its despicable image in Iran and the region."
The opposition had asked for permission to hold a public rally "in support of the people in Tunisia and Egypt" but Iranian officials refused to give permission and declared all such rallies illegal.
Tehran said the Iranian people already expressed their solidarity with the Egyptians and Tunisians on February 11 on the sidelines of rallies marking the 32nd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution.
Meanwhile, counter-demonstrations were held to denounce the move by the opposition to disrupt public order and condemn the riots by the supporters of the defeated candidates.
This is while the US government has once again voiced support for anti-government moves in Iran.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that Washington stands with Iranian opposition supporters.
"Let me, clearly and directly, support the aspirations of the people who are in the streets in Iran today," Clinton told reporters after meeting with the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.
"We think that there needs to be a commitment to open up the political system in Iran, to hear the voices of the opposition and civil society," she added.
Iran has repeatedly slammed Western countries, in particular the US and Britain, for supporting post-vote riots that erupted following the June 2009 presidential election, which resulted in the victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.