Iran marks anti-Green Movement protest anniversary

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On Dec. 30, Iranian politicians and media celebrated the anniversary of the protests held in 2009 in support of the government and against the Green Movement protesters who had contested the 2009 elections that brought President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad back into office.

Government officials and media often refer to the protests as the “9 Dey epic.” (They happened on the ninth of “Dey,” the 10th month in the Iranian calendar.) They took place to counter the Ashura protests, which were criticized by some in the government as the co-opting of an important religious day for a political agenda that had been condemned by officials.

President Hassan Rouhani and other administration officials praised the 9 Dey protests but attempted to portray the demonstration in a different light than hard-liners.

“The people did not come to streets for any particular political side,” Rouhani said. “The people came to the streets to defend Islam … because they felt that the culture of Ashura was insulted and the foreigners had created the setting for an intervention.”

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said of the 9 Dey protests, “When what is sacred is ignored, it’s natural for there to be a reaction with respect to that.” When asked about trying the “leaders of the sedition,” Alavi said, “Whether it is the leaders of the sedition or anyone else who committed wrongdoing, [they] should have fair court proceedings and should be sentenced equal to the crime.”

Former presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard have not been tried in court, although according to his wife, Karroubi has requested a trial. Despite political pressure by Reformists to end the house arrests, hard-liners say that they need to be tried before they could be released. On Dec. 27, hard-line cleric Ghassem Ravanbaksh said that he would be willing to personally hang the ropes around Mousavi’s and Karroubi’s necks.

In an interview with Fars News, Massoud Jazayeri, the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, called Fars’ coverage of the 2009 Green Movement protests and 9 Dey pro-government protests “commendable.”

Jazayeri continued, “There are two heads of the sedition who are not under arrest, though they should be, and they are … managing the sedition. Therefore, the media has to be careful of this.” 2009 presidential candidates Mousavi and Karroubi, along with Mousavi’s wife, are currently under house arrest.

Jazayeri did not mention the names of the two individuals who are not currently under arrest but should be, and are managing the “sedition,” but former President Mohammad Khatami is often accused of having a major role in the 2009 protests. Last week, a nine-volume “Encyclopedia of the 2009 sedition” was released, and on the cover were pictures of Khatami, Mousavi and Karroubi.

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Jazayeri asked the intelligence minister to be careful of “new seditions” and said that the biggest “sedition,” a “cultural sedition” working to separate society from its identity, was managed by the “Americans and Zionists.” He said that the West was unsuccessful in defeating Iran in a “hard war” and now is resorting to a “soft war.”

Both Iran’s justice minister and its intelligence minister operate under the administration’s guidance, and Rouhani campaigned on a promise to end the house arrests. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s personal website published a poster last week of a court case, declaring the 2009 protests “unforgivable.”