Friday, June 26, 2009

Not a Kinder, Gentler Khamenei

Looks like Reza Aslan's sources might be wrong. Aslan, we noted yesterday, suggested that Friday's prayer message from Iran's leaders would be a reflection of whether attempts by opponents and reformers (not necessarily the same people) to forge a compromise were making headway. A softer tone in his Friday message would suggest the efforts were bearing fruit.

Well, the fruit is spoiled. The New York Times reports today:

At Friday Prayer in Tehran University, the senior cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami [not related to reformist former president Mohammad Khatami], referred to the demonstrators as rioters and declared, “I want the judiciary to punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson.” Reuters quoted him as saying that demonstrators should be tried for waging war against God. The punishment for such offenses under Islamic law is death, Reuters said.

This morning at a press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Barack Obama repeated his condemnation of the violence against Iranian protestors. And he rejected the call for him to apologize to Iran, saying that he doesn't take Iranian President Ahmadinejad seriously when he makes such demands, and that Ahmadinejad should think more about apologizing to the families of the demonstrators who have been attacked.

Aslan will address The Commonwealth Club on September 1 in San Francisco.


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