Hardliners chant "Death to Mousavi" at Iran rallies

Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:15am EST
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By Fredrik Dahl

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Government supporters rallied across Iran on Friday to protest against an opposition "insult" to the Islamic Republic's revered founder, with some calling for pro-reform leader Mirhossein Mousavi to be executed.

It was the first time such a call was made during a state-sponsored event and signaled increased pressure on the moderate opposition, which has continued to show defiance over a presidential election in June it says was rigged.

"Mousavi, this is our last warning. The sedition leaders should be executed," people chanted at a rally in Tehran.

But there were no reports of the kind of clashes that erupted at previous officially-organized events, when Mousavi supporters also took to the streets in a bid to revive their challenge to hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Reformist websites had urged opposition supporters to stay away from Friday's rallies, which took place under a heavy police presence.

Iran's judiciary earlier this week said it had evidence that senior reformist figures had fomented trouble after the poll six months ago, which triggered huge anti-government street protests, and warned of legal action against them.

"The judiciary should confront people who continue this sedition ... with the maximum punishment," Mohammad Hossein Rahimian, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the crowd in Tehran, Fars News Agency reported.

Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election plunged Iran into political turmoil and exposed deepening establishment divisions.   Continued...

<p>EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran. Worshipers protest during a rally against opposition supporters who insulted the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, after Friday prayers in Tehran December 18, 2009. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi</p>