A hard-line cleric sought Friday to head off an attempt to reinvigorate Iran's anti-government movement, warning against a planned opposition rally next month that would coincide with annual state-sponsored demonstrations against the United States.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, delivering the weekly Muslim prayer sermon in Teheran, also had an unusual warning for the security forces, telling them any soft treatment of those activists already in detention would be considered treason. "Nobody gives a flower to his murderer," he said.
Jannati, whose sermon was broadcast live on state radio, accused the opposition of seeking to transform the event into an outpouring of support for the US. "They want to show their pro-American and pro-Israeli nature on the day," Jannati said. "If they are allowed, they will say, 'Long live the US and Israel.'"
Iranian authorities have sought since the unrest first broke out to portray the activists as tools of the West, particularly America and Britain.