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Hard-Liner Attacks, Cordon Keep Iran Opposition Leader From Rally

  • Golnaz Esfandiari

The house of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi in March,

The house of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi in March,

The son of opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi says hard-liners tried to forcefully enter his father's Tehran home late on September 2 but were turned back after an altercation with the cleric-cum-politician's bodyguards.

The incident came after several days of similar after-hours harassment and on the eve of officially sanctioned public rallies today in which Karrubi had vowed to participate.

A website with ties to Karrubi reported that "militia members" and members of the country's hard-line Revolutionary Guard then surrounded Karrubi's home today to ensure that he couldn't get to the government-sponsored rally.

WATCH: Government-backed rallies on Quds Day on September 3 typically feature anti-Western slogans. This year, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad joined hundreds of thousands of ralliers in the capital. Ahmadinejad greeted supporters as the crowd chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."



Hossein Karrubi -- who was at his father's house at the time of the September 2 attack -- told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that the attackers fired shots at the house and smashed the windows and surrounding street lamps.

"They launched their attack with the slogan, 'We're ready to obey your orders, Khamenei!'" the younger Karrubi said in the immediate wake of the incident. "They set the door to the house on fire -- it is still burning. They wanted to enter the house but the guards opened fire to scare them. I think several of them were injured. They were forced to retreat."

Karrubi's website, "Sahamnews," reports that the head of his security team was beaten up and seriously injured when he tried to speak to the attackers. According to the website, the guard, identified as "Mr. Yari," has been taken to the hospital.

The attack was believed to be an attempt to intimidate Karrube and prevent him from taking part in the September 3 Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally, which generally sees anti-Israeli rallies in Iran. Last month Karrubi said he planned to attend the annual rally, which was used last year by opposition members to protest what they said was the fraudulent reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.

Mob Rule

The regime supporters had surrounded Karrubi's house for much of the past week, pelting it with stones, breaking windows, and spraying the walls with paint and slogans like "American cleric."

The men are described on Karrubi's website as "Basij thugs."

"Sahamnews" posted images and video of damage -- including apparent bullet holes -- to the entrance of the home.

They also chanted slogans against the opposition cleric, including "Death to Karrubi!" and accused him of being connected to groups such as the communist Tudeh party and the opposition Mujahedin Khalq organization, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

Earlier this week, Karrubi's wife, Fatemeh Karrubi, condemned the ongoing siege of the house in an open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and blamed him for the violence against her husband.

"These manifest crimes were committed in the name of support for Your Excellency and in front of the police," she wrote.

Karrubi's son has also suggested that the Supreme Leader is behind today's attack against his father.

"I want to tell Mr. Khamenei, 'You claim you're like [first Shi'a imam Imam Ali] -- is this his style? You set fire to the house of a 73-year-old man because [you] have disagreements with him? Is this the way of Ali?'" he said.

As the younger Karrubi was speaking to Radio Farda, chanting could still be heard outside the house.

When asked what his father was doing while the house was being attacked, Hossein Karrubi said the opposition leader was reading the Koran. He added that his father will not be intimidated.

This isn't the first time that the elder Karrubi, who is a former speaker of the parliament and presidential candidate, has come under attack by hardliners. He is often criticized or physically attacked for speaking out about the post-election crackdown and human rights abuses committed under Khamenei and President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Throughout, he has refused to back down, saying the country cannot be ruled by "threatening people and [the creation] of fear."

Radio Farda's Hossein Ghavimi contributed to this report; with additional Central Newsroom contributions
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