A intensified crackdown in Iran in the next few weeks and months might make the post-election repression of Iran’s opposition movement so far look mild. Now that President Ahmadinejad has been sworn in for a second, four-year term, it’s widely expected that he’ll unleash the full fury of the country’s security forces, Islamic courts, and paramilitary groups against protesters and opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, and Mehdi Karroubi.
Last week, promising as much, Ahmadinejad made the threat explicit during a speech in Mashhad:
“Let the swearing-in ceremony occur. Then we will take them by the collar and slam their heads into the ceiling.”
The religious right and hardliners are already calling for the arrest, trial, and possible execution of Mousavi, Khatami, et al. Hossein Shariatmadari, the hardline editor of Kayhan, who is widely seen as a spokesman for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Leader, called the reformist leaders and their allies “corruption on the earth,” a term of art within Iran’s version of Shiite Islam that suggests the need for capital punishment. He wrote:
“Their unforgivable criminal activities include the killing of innocent civilians, creating unrest, and cooperation with enemies and foreigners. If these persons are not brought to justice and only the middlemen are prosecuted, a safe margin will be created for them to continue their instigation of sedition.”
Iason Athanasiadis, the journalist who was arrested and detained in Iran after June 12 and subsequently released, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, quotes several leading mullahs calling for the crackdown to be extended to the leaders of the opposition:
“‘Through Israel, America, and England, they are trying to arrest the progress of the Islamic Revolution and subvert it,’ Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Akbar Qoreishi, the representative for West Azerbaizan province told the hardliner-aligned Fars News Agency on Wednesday. He attacked opposition leaders as being the ’cause of suffering of the Iranian nation’ and called for their trial ‘without any leniency.’