Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei continues to grasp at straws:
In an uncompromising address at Friday prayers, Khamenei claimed that the high turnout at the elections showed how much the Iranian people supported the regime, and warned protesters to keep off the streets.
The reformist presidential challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was conspicuous by his absence from Friday prayers at Tehran University, where Khamenei was making his first public appearance since controversially endorsing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s election as president.
Khamenei praised the president as “hardworking” and dismissed the idea that the election might have been rigged.
“The Islamic republic will never manipulate votes and commit treason,” he said. “The legal structure in this country does not allow vote-rigging.” He said that vote-rigging to the extent of the 11m votes in the official results was impossible.
He added: “If some people have doubts and evidence it should be dealt with through legal ways – only through legal ways. I will never accept illegal innovations.”
He’s caught between a rock and a hard place. The people know the election was rigged. He’s trying to close the stable door after the horse has already bolted.
He insisted that it was “natural” for people to support different candidates but that the foreign media was responsible for portraying supporters of Mousavi as opposed to the Islamic revolution.
“Enemies try through various media, and some of these media belong to the Zionists … they try to make believe that there is a fight between supporters of the opposition and the Islamic establishment,” said Khamenei. “They have no right to say that, that is not true.”
He described the 85% turnout at the election as a “great accomplishment” and a “political earthquake” for Iran’s enemies. The supreme leader said he was bringing a message for “leaders of world arrogance, the western countries”.
“This is not a competition between outside and inside the establishment as Zionists, media in the UK, in the US, have been trying to say,” he said. The US and Israel routinely come under fire in the supreme leader’s sermons but Khamenei singled out the UK as the “most treacherous”, prompting chants of “death to the UK” from the crowds.
Yet the ‘great accomplishment’ was the turnout against Ahmadinejad. The country was motivated to move on from the failures of his economic and social extremism. I don’t believe for a moment that the foreign press has presented the protests in Iran as a challenge to the Islamic revolution, although his corruption, bad judgment and intransigence has probably unexpectedly put that under at least a challenge. We live in strange times, and he