Rafsanjani: Protests strengthened system

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Friday that recent protests held against clerical rule in Iran have only strengthened the country’s political system.

    Rafsanjani warned students and young people against  being used by the US

    Hundreds of people took to the streets around Tehran University on Wednesday despite an official ban on gatherings to mark the anniversary of student protests in 1999 that left one protester killed.

     

    The protest came after authorities vowed to put down any unrest following last month’s protests that lasted for 10 nights across the country.

     

    Around 4,000 people were arrested during and after the demonstrations.

     

    “The incidents we have had since last month consolidated the system,” said Rafsanjani, who heads the powerful conservative-dominated Expediency Council.

     

    He described protesters as “anti-revolutionaries” and referred to them as “US infantry and soldiers”.

     

    Rafsanjani said the authorities were able to put down the protests without the help of the army, the revolutionary guards or the Basij forces.

     

    Basij forces are loyal to supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters.

     

    Most analysts agree that protesters were driven by frustration after Reformist President Mohammed Khatami failed to bring them a more democratic society.

     

    Rafsanjani played down the significance of the protests that gained international publicity, saying that Khamenei had not even intervened in the issue.

     

    “The officials and leader had not even entered the discussion,” he said in comments aired live on radio.

     

    Some Iranian officials accused Washington and US-based Iranian satellite channels of encouraging students to take part in the protests.

     

    Rafsanjani called on students t o refrain from acting in response of foreign incitement.

     

    “What I want to say to young people and students is … be aware you are deceived and do not put others in more trouble and go back to your studies,” he said.

     

    Some 800 students were among the 4,000 people held in custody.

     

    Dozens of others were seriously wounded when mainly Basij militiamen stormed in dormitories to beat up protesting students with chains, knives and clubs.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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