TEHRAN, Iran — His newspaper was shut down Monday and generals and hard-line clerics have called for him to be put on trial. Yet defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi says that opposition to the government is growing.
The white-turbaned Shiite cleric, who has held several senior government positions since the 1979 Islamic revolution, said in an interview Tuesday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders who support him will be defeated by what he describes as a burgeoning movement of ordinary people, ayatollahs and lawmakers.
"In the streets, in the bazaars, at weddings and in mosques, everywhere you can hear people complaining about what has happened" since Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election June 12, Karroubi said. "This belief is growing at an extraordinary pace. Yes, people might be more cautious, since the situation in our country is dangerous, but their thoughts, their ideas have not changed."
The mass trial now underway in Tehran, in which some of Karroubi's close advisers have linked him to a Western-backed plot to overthrow the country's leadership, is unprecedented, he said.
"The court has a special purpose. It is organized by the winners of the vote, and only their opponents have been put on trial," the 72-year-old cleric said. "But people will never believe these wide-ranging accusations of murders, bombings and espionage against more than 100 suspects."
While fellow opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has issued a broad call for full implementation the constitution, Karroubi has been pursuing violations of specific laws including torture, deaths in custody and rape of detainees.