Iranian cleric urges executing some protesters

30Jun09

Iran policeoriginally published: 27th June 2009

A senior cleric on Friday urged Iran’s protest leaders to be punished “without mercy” and said some should face execution ā€” harsh calls that signal a nasty new turn in the regime’s crackdown on demonstrators two weeks after its disputed election.

Hard-liners have ordered long sentences and hangings before, and some fear those awaiting trial by a judiciary whose verdicts reflect the will of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could face the most severe punishments the Islamic system can dish out.

“Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution,” Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a ranking cleric, said in a nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University. Khatami said those who disturbed the peace and destroyed public property were “at war with God” and should be “dealt with without mercy.”

His call for merciless retribution for those who stirred up Iran’s largest wave of dissent since the 1979 Islamic Revolution came as Mir Hossein Mousavi, the nation’s increasingly isolated opposition leader, has been under heavy pressure to give up his fight and slipped even further from view.

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