Iran’s Supreme Leader has called for unity among Islamic Republic supporters, which is being interpreted as an implicit show of support for embattled President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In a speech marking 22 years since the death of the system’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader said: "If there are criminal charges against a movement, then officials are obliged to legally confront it."
Ayatollah Khamenei continued: "However, if someone is not seeking to topple the regime or carry out the bidding of our enemies, but disagrees with our political tastes and views, we must not deprive them of justice and security or crush them under our feet."
After the 2009 presidential election, millions of people supported opposition candidates MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in their challenge of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory and protested against alleged vote fraud.
The government used extreme violence to crush the protests, which resulted in dozens of deaths and the widespread incarceration of reformists and protesters.
Even though Mousavi and Karroubi have been under house arrest since February for rallying protesters for an Arab solidarity march, Ayatollah Khamenei insisted that election protests have died down.
However, in an implicit show of support for Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Khamenei insisted that attacks against "forces that are loyal to the foundations of the system and Islam" are a deviation from the path of the founder of the Islamic Republic.
Ahmadinejad has come under heavy attack in recent months from extreme conservatives, who claim Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, is leading a "deviant current" that threatens the foundations of the regime.
The Supreme Leader went on to laud the Ahmadinejad government, saying the "administration has been able to accomplish many great tasks, realize major infrastructure projects… the results of which will soon be evident to the people.”
This appears to be a clear indication to senior figures in the establishment to cease their attacks against the government.