Hard-line Iranian lawmakers called on Tuesday for the country’s opposition
leaders to face trial and be put to death – a day after clashes between
opposition protesters and security forces left one person dead and dozens
Tens of thousands of people turned out for the rally on Monday
to show solidarity with Egypt’s popular revolt, the first major show of strength
from Iran’s beleaguered opposition in more than a year.
Analysis: 'This may be the first spark of revolution
Clinton: Iranians deserve same rights as seen in
for reform intensify throughout Arab world
Persian Gulf in the kingdom of Bahrain, thousands of protesters poured into a
main square in the capital, Manama, in an Egypt-style rebellion that sharply
escalated pressure on authorities, as the Arab push for change gripped the Gulf
for the first time.
At an open session of the Iranian parliament on
Tuesday, pro-government legislators chanted “Death to Mousavi, Karroubi and
Kahatami!” – referring to opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mahdi Karroubi
and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami.
They said the US,
Britain and Israel had organized Monday’s protests through the opposition
leaders – who, according to the parliament’s Speaker Ali Larijani, were being
“misled” by Iran’s arch-enemies.
“The parliament condemns the Zionists,
American, antirevolutionary and anti-national action of the misled
seditionists,” Larijani told the parliament, according to AFP. “How did the
gentlemen [Mousavi and Karroubi]... fall into the orchestrated trap of America?
Should they not have been cautious given the support, pleasure and joy of
America and Israel as well as monarchists and Monafeghin?” Larijani added,
referring to the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, a banned religious leftist group
that seeks to overthrow the regime.
More than 220 lawmakers said in a
statement that the trio should be held responsible for the unrest.
believe the people have lost their patience and demand capital punishment” for
the opposition leaders, the statement said.
Hard-liners have long sought
to put high-ranking opposition figures on trial, but the calls for the death
penalty signaled an escalation in their demands.
Iran’s protests have
sparked hope among observers of the region that the country might see a
grassroots, Egypt-style uprising that would unseat the ruling
But echoing other experts, Hagai M. Segal, a lecturer on
Middle Eastern Affairs at New York University in London, emphasized the starkly
different circumstances between Egypt and Iran.
In the Islamic Republic,
he said, there are security forces eager to do “exactly what the Egyptian
military were not willing to do – beat, and even shoot and kill citizens
protesting on the streets.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and fiercely
loyalist Basij militia consider it a “sacred duty” to quell anti-government
dissent, he said.
Nonetheless, Segal noted, Iranians are growing
increasingly frustrated with their rulers’ double standards.
welcomed events in Egypt, yet has suppressed its own democracy movement, and
even while celebrating events in Egypt they have banned public demonstrations in
its favor because it fears Iranian protesters back on the streets,” he said.
“Mousavi, Karroubi and others wish to remind Iranians and the West of this
double standard, and if possible, reignite their own ‘revolution’ in the
Iranian authorities appeared to be moving quickly on Tuesday to
stifle the opposition before its gains momentum, issuing promises of swift
action against leaders and activists, the IRNA state news agency
“The judiciary will quickly and resolutely deal with major
elements and those who violated public order and peace,” the spokesman for
Iran’s judiciary and state prosecutor said.
In Bahrain, security forces
have battled demonstrators over two days, leading to the deaths of two
In a clear sign of concern over the widening crisis, King
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa made a rare national television address, offering
condolences for the deaths, pledging an investigation into the killings and
promising to push ahead with reforms – which include loosening state controls on
the media and Internet.
As the crowds surged into Pearl Square in the
capital, security forces appeared to hold back. The dramatic move on Tuesday
came just hours after a second protester died in clashes with
Oppositions groups are calling for greater political freedom and
an end to the ruling Sunni monarchy’s grip on key decisions and government
posts. The nation’s majority Shi’ites have long complained of
Many in the square – which was quickly renamed the
“Nation’s Square” by protesters – waved Bahraini flags and chanted: “No Sunnis,
no Shi’ites! We are all Bahrainis!” The bloodshed already has brought sharp
denunciations from the largest Shi’ite political bloc, which suspended its
participation in parliament, and could threaten the nation’s gradual
pro-democracy reforms over the past decade.
The second day of turmoil
began after police tried to disperse up to 10,000 mourners gathering at a
hospital parking lot to begin a funeral procession for Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima,
21, who died in Monday’s marches.
Officials at Bahrain’s Salmaniya
Medical Complex said a 31-year-old man became the second fatality when he died
of injuries from birdshot fired during the melee in the hospital’s parking
After the clash, riot police eventually withdrew and allowed the
massive funeral procession for Mushaima to proceed from the main staterun
medical facility in Manama.
He was killed on Monday during clashes with
security forces trying to halt marches.
At least 25 people were wounded
by the barrage of rubber bullets, birdshot and tear gas, relatives
A crackdown on dissent last year touched off weeks of riots and
clashes in Shi’ite villages.
The main Shi’ite opposition group, Al-Wefaq,
denounced the “bullying tactics and barbaric policies pursued by the security
forces” and said it was suspending its participation in parliament, where it
holds 18 of the 40 seats.
The declaration falls short of pulling out the
group’s lawmakers, which would spark a full-scale political crisis. But Al-
Wefaq warned that it could take more steps if violence persists against
In Yemen, police tried to disperse demonstrators using tear gas
and batons, but around 3,000 protesters defiantly continued their march from
Sanaa University toward the city center, chanting slogans against President Ali
The procession gained momentum with hundreds of students
and rights activists joining along the way.
Riot police blocked the main
road leading to the city center, and clashed with protesters throwing stones.
Three protesters were injured and rushed to the hospital in
About 2,000 government supporters also staged a counter-
demonstration in the center, raising concerns about potential
Saleh, who has been in office for more than 30 years, has been
contacting powerful tribal leaders in a bid to enlist their support as he tries
to defuse the protests, according to officials familiar with the president’s
The officials said Saleh feared that his rule would not withstand
the pressure of a tribal decision to join the protesters in seeking his
For now, said the officials, Saleh was counting on security
forces and armed backers who support his rule in dealing with the protesters. He
also promised to step down in 2013.
Jordan’s interior minister said
Tuesday that protest marches will no longer need government permission – bowing
to growing pressure to allow wider freedoms.
In street protests in the
past five weeks, Islamist opposition groups, their leftist allies and
independent rights activists demanded that the government remove restrictions on
free speech and assembly.
Minister Saad Hayel Srour said on Tuesday that
protesters would still have to inform authorities of any gathering two days in
advance, to “ensure public safety,” and that they would have to observe public
order. However, he stressed that the government would no longer interfere in
Jordan’s King Abdullah II has responded to dissent by
promising changes to an election law that allows the king’s loyalists to
dominate the legislature – the only elected national decision-making
Opposition leader Hamza Mansour, of the Islamic Action Front (the
political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) said Tuesday’s change was a step in the
“We’re still waiting to see changes made to the election
law, and to have early elections held based on the new bill,” Mansour said.
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin