By Parisa Hafezi (Reuters) in Toronto Star, February 15, 2011
TEHRAN—Iranian lawmakers called for the death penalty on Tuesday for opposition leaders they accused of stirring up unrest after a rally in which a least one person was killed and dozens were wounded, state media said.
Clashes broke out between security forces and protesters when thousands rallied in sympathy for popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. They revived mass protests that shook Iran after a presidential vote in 2009.
Kazem Jalali, a member of parliament, told the student news agency ISNA that two people were killed at a banned opposition rally in Iran.
“At Monday's rally . . . two people were martyred and many were wounded; one person was shot dead,” Kazem Jalali was quoted as saying by ISNA.
An opposition website said at least 1,500 people were arrested while taking part in the banned protests.
The protests amount to a test of strength for the reformist opposition which took to the streets in mass protests in 2009.
“(Opposition leaders) Mehdi Karroubi and Mirhossein Mousavi are corrupts on earth and should be tried,” the official IRNA news agency quoted members of parliament as saying in a statement. The statement was signed by 222 lawmakers out of 290.
So while the people of Yemen march through the streets of their capital Saan'a, and the people of Algiers mount their campaign against another oppressive regime, the situation in Iran, different from all the other Middle Eastern countries, could easily turn very ugly, if we are to believe those commentators willing to speak about that country.
Even U.S. President Obama took the opportunity to slam Iran for its threatening attitude to protesters, in today's press conference, focused mainly on the president's budget proposals for 2012.
Television pictures of Iranian government members calling for the deaths of Karrouby and Mousavi, if such threats become reality, could be only a prelude to far worse developments in that regime.
Signs like "down with Israel" and "down with America" dotted the streets in Tehran, if we are to believe the pictures that escaped the country on social media.
The cauldron is beginning to heat to a boil, throughout the Middle East, and, for example where there is a majority of people of either Shia or Sunni, where the leadership is from the opposite sect of the Muslim faith, there is likely to be increased pressure on those leaders.
Can the cauldron boil on without boiling over?
Can the sparks of martyrdom that ignited the protests in other countries be contained in a country like Iran, where protests have been violently crushed in the not-to-distant past?
These questions cannot escape the considerations of those in both east and west who are watching and who are responsible for the maintenance of stability and non-violence there and around the globe.