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Opposition Leader Musavi Says Iran In Crisis

Mir Hossein Musavi had kept relatively silent for months until today's statement.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi has said the Islamic state is in crisis and accused the government of pressuring opponents in the name of Islam, his website Kaleme reported.

Official results of the June 12 vote showing hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad had won by a landslide rocked Iran with street protests by supporters of defeated candidate Musavi, a moderate who says the election was rigged.

Security forces quelled the protests but 11 months after the vote, Musavi and allies refuse to back down, saying the reform movement will continue. Authorities reject vote rigging allegations.

"The only way for Iran to get out of the crisis would be for you [the rulers] to change your approach," said Musavi, after months of relative silence. "May God end the crisis in favor of the nation."

The aftermath of the presidential vote, which plunged the Islamic Republic into its worst internal crisis in the past three decades, exposed deepening divisions in the political establishment of the major oil producer.

Musavi accused the government of pressuring the opposition in the name of Islam.

"Islam would not beat anyone, would not take anyone into incarceration...and would not keep anyone in prison," Musavi said, in reference to scores of opposition supporters arrested since the disputed poll. "Do not think that the reform movement does not exist anymore. Such measures can not block the reform path."

The authorities have often blamed the opposition for trying to topple the clerical establishment, which is also locked in a standoff with the West over Iran's nuclear work.

Musavi said he supported the Islamic system of government, countering allegations by hard-line foes that the opposition wants to topple the clerical leadership.

"Accusing the opposition of being linked to the country's enemies is not in line with the country's interests," he said.

Musavi, who again repeated that the vote was rigged, called on the authorities to release political prisoners and lift a ban on some moderate newspapers and websites.

"We can not accept closure of newspapers and jailing those who talk of freedom and people's rights," Musavi said. "This is against Islam."

About a dozen proreform publications have been banned since the vote on charges such as spreading lies, media have reported.

Thousands of people were arrested after the June vote. More than 100 people, including senior reformist figures, have received jail terms of up to 16 years. Iran has so far hanged two people following postelection trials.

The West and human rights groups strongly condemned the executions and the government's handling of the postelection unrest.