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    Iran clerics slam reformist Mousavi

    Hurriyet Daily News with wires
    01.07.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    TEHRAN - Hard-line Iranian clerics blast moderate leader Mir Hossein Mousavi severely, one calling him ’anti-revolutionary.’ Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic’s powerful Guardian Council confirms the result of the disputed presidential elections and certifies incumbent Ahmadinejad’s victory.

    Hard-line Iranian clerics lashed out at opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi on Tuesday, with some branding him "anti-revolutionary," after the nation's top election body certified President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed poll win.

    Mousavi's camp remained defiant, reiterating a demand for the cancellation of the June 12 vote, which unleashed the worst crisis in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. But opposition to Ahmadinejad's victory appeared to be waning as the massive street protests seen in the immediate aftermath of the election become sporadic gatherings easily dispersed by riot police and the Basij militia.

    The head of the seminary in Qom -- Iran's clerical nerve center -- called for a sustained crackdown on protests, saying demonstrators were "treading the path of the world's arrogance," a term Iranian leaders use to describe the United States. "The regime must confront them," said Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadai.

    The Guardians Council on Monday certified Ahmadinejad's return to power after conducting a recount of 10 percent of the votes and what it described as a "comprehensive investigation" into the election.

    Conservative Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati, who heads the Guardian Council, said that "meticulous and comprehensive examination" revealed only "slight irregularities that are common to any election and needless of attention," according to the state TV channel IRIB. "Thus we confirm the result of the 10th presidential election."

    "From today on, the file on the presidential election has been closed," The Associated Press quoted Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei as saying on state-run Press TV.

    Monday's recount appeared to be an attempt to cultivate the image that Iran was seriously addressing fraud claims, while giving no ground in the clampdown on opposition.

    However, the United States warned that the confirmation of Ahmadinejad's victory would not placate the opposition, and Italy warned of possible further sanctions against Iran.

    Protests waning

    Mousavi boycotted the partial recount after lodging complaints of widespread irregularities, along with two other defeated candidates, former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and ex-Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezai.

    "If people like me remain in the Guardians Council and if Mousavi is a candidate in the next election, we will not approve him," Jannati's number two Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi told the Fars news agency.

    Opposition demonstrators took to the streets in vast numbers in the wake of the election in scenes of public anger not witnessed since the revolution, with unprecedented criticism of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But in the last few days, demonstrations have been only sporadic in the face of a swift and sometimes brutal response by the authorities to stop any unauthorized public gatherings.

    Another hard-line cleric even referred to Mousavi -- who was premier in the 1980s and once a close aide to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini -- as being "anti-revolutionary and against the regime."

    "If anyone said there was fraud in the election, he has lied and committed a sin," said Ahmad Khatami who on Friday called for the execution of rioters involved in the post-election unrest.

    Ahmadinejad's victory and the ensuing crackdown triggered a global outcry and saw relations between Tehran and the West deteriorate with Iran accusing Britain in particular of stoking the unrest.

    Asked if the United States would recognize Ahmadinejad as Iran's legitimate president, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said "We're going to take this a day at a time."

    Clinton said the limited recount was unlikely to satisfy the opposition. "Obviously, they have a huge credibility gap with their own people as to the election process, and I don't think that's going to disappear by any finding of a limited review of a relatively small number of ballots," she said.

    Iran announced on Sunday it had detained nine local employees of the British Embassy on suspicion of fomenting or aiding protests. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi said Monday that five of the Iranian embassy staffers had been released and the remaining four were being interrogated. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown slammed the arrests as "unacceptable" and demanded their immediate release.

    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi warned of more penalties against Iran, which is already under three sets of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear work.
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