Iran’s president warned today that the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East will spread to Europe and North America. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says popular demands for change will put an end to the oppression of what he called arrogant powers. Without signaling out nations by name, he says similar uprisings will strike Europe and North America.
Speaking on state TV today, the president also condemned Libya’s use of force against demonstrators and urged Libyan leaders to give in to the demands of their people. Iran’s hard-line leaders have sought to claim some credit for the uprisings in Arab nations, saying the 1979 Islamic Revolution provided inspiration.
The calls for solidarity with protesters across the Arab world came in stark contrast to its own actions to crush dissent at home. Two people were killed and dozens arrested in Iran last Monday when thousands of opposition supporters in Tehran and other cities took to the streets in defiance of a heavy security presence to back uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia that toppled their leaders.
An opposition website said at least 1,500 people were arrested while taking part in the banned protests and many wounded in clashes with security forces. Police claimed that dozens were arrested and 9 policemen were injured in the rallies.
Iran warned opposition groups on Saturday against staging demonstrations to commemorate the people killed during the protests, state media reported.
Iran brutally put down protests on its own streets after Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.
Iranian members of parliament also expressed support for anti-government protests throughout the Middle East, calling upon the United Nations Human Rights Commission to discuss the crises in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain, Israel Channel 10 reported.
“Bullets have been fired upon citizens protesting against the government non-violently, trying to restore their natural rights,” the statement from Tehran read.
Commenting on the wave of anti-government protests, the chair of the foreign affairs and security committee of the Iranian parliament blamed the U.S. and Israel for trying to direct developments in the region to serve their interests, Israel Channel 10 said.