|Bad news from the Iranian government. No concessions will be made to the demonstrators.
The New York Times reports that in his Friday speech, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, offered no concessions at all to the demonstrators and threatened leaders of the pro-democracy demonstrations with reprisals if the demonstrations do not stop:
In his first public response to days of protests, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sternly warned opponents Friday to stay off the streets and denied opposition claims that last week’s disputed election was rigged, praising the ballot as an “epic moment that became a historic moment.”
In a somber and lengthy sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran, he called directly for an end to the protests by hundreds of thousands of Iranians demanding a new election.
“Street challenge is not acceptable,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “This is challenging democracy after the elections.” He said opposition leaders would be “held responsible for chaos” if they did not end the protests.
As to the claims of the protestors and numerous analysts that the election was rigged, Khamenei absolutely denies any irregularities:
…he endorsed the president’s policies and insisted that the margin of victory – 11 million votes – accorded to Mr. Ahmadinejad in the official tally was so big that it could not have been falsified. “How can 11 million votes be replaced or changed?” he said.
He went on: “The Islamic republic state would not cheat and would not betray the vote of the people.”
Oh no. Not cheating. Some kinds of cheating are so huge that they’re impossible. Not. According to the ever cautious Times, “The ayatollah’s remarks seemed to show that the authorities were growing impatient with the street protests. ‘It would be wrong to think that turning out on the street would force officials to accept their demands,’ he said.”
And, of course, the entire speech couldn’t be complete without this:
He blamed “media belonging to Zionists, evil media” for seeking to show divisions between those who supported the Iranian state and those who did not, while, in fact, the election had shown Iranians to be united in their commitment to the Islamic revolutionary state.
“There are 40 million votes for the revolution, not just 24 million for the chosen president,” he said, referring to the official tally that gave Mr. Ahmadinejad more than 60 percent of the vote.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the election ” was a competition among people who believe in the state.”
The speech explicitly threatens a wave of repression.
This morning’s Twitter at #iranelection says that more large demonstrations will be held tomorrow.