MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi must be given a chance to speak for themselves on national television, conservative Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari said today. The two opposition leaders have been under house arrest for the past two weeks.
In an interview with Salaam Website, Motahari said: “We must hear the voice of the opposition and critics, and they must be given the right to peaceful demonstrations.”
“I believe that this way we could end this matter much better,” Motahari added. “We have been making idols and making the problems appear grave.”
The two opposition leaders, who had been plagued by various security measures over the past year, were finally put under house arrest for calling the mass demonstrations of February 14. Iran’s interior ministry refused to issue a permit for the proposed rally.
Ali Motahari maintained: “There is no doubt that the February 14 events were illegal and inappropriate, but we must also look at our own actions. Most of our media including the national broadcaster Seda va Sima and a number of newspapers kept instigating and demeaning protesters over the past year and writing things like ‘you are finished, you are not a cipher, you are already executed, you have no supporters’ and thus have been asking them for a fight.”
The opposition had not shown any street presence over the past year, and the Iranian establishment repeatedly claimed that the protest movement was completely silenced, after it had flared up as the Green Movement following the controversial elections of 2009. Those demonstrations had been violently quashed by security forces, and thereafter the opposition leaders limited their activities to issuing statements critical of government policy. The February 14 rally was called in support of the recent Arab uprisings. Even though the government refused to issue a permit, the opposition argued that the constitution gives citizens the right to peaceful demonstrations.
The government was caught off guard by the masses of people that came to the streets on February 14 and vowed to silence the two opposition leaders. Since then Mousavi and Karroubi have been under a strict house arrest, and no one is allowed any contact with them.
Following their house arrest, the Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope, an opposition umbrella group, has been issuing statements on their behalf. Most recently, it has called for demonstrations on March 1 to demand the release of the two leaders.