In Iran, Bid To Start New Party May Be Doomed
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
In Iran, ongoing dissent over the outcome of last month's presidential election is now in the papers and on the Internet, but not so much on the streets. A reformist newspaper is reporting that opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi plans to launch a new political party. At the same time, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has sharpened his rhetoric against the opposition and the west.
Ramin Mostaghim is in Tehran reporting for the L.A. Times. And Mr. Mostaghim, what can you tell us about that new political party?
Mr. RAMIN MOSTAGHIM (Reporter, Los Angeles Times): Mr. Mousavi has just publicly announced it, but at the same time, Kayhan, the mouthpiece of the supreme leader, said that Mr. Mousavi himself is not authorized to lead a party. So the prospects for this party is doomed from very beginning.
BLOCK: You're saying the prospects for the party are doomed.
Mr. MOSTAGHIM: Yeah.
BLOCK: There was a measure of support that came over the weekend from an association of religious leaders that weighed in on the side of Mr. Mousavi and called the new government illegitimate. What do you make of that call this weekend?
Mr. MOSTAGHIM: They don't represent the mainstream of the clerical establishment in Rome. They represent a minority of the clerics, mostly educated in new science, human science, theology, psychology and some philosophy. They have a say among the middle-class, educated people in urban areas, yes, but they don't have their own voice within clerical establishment. So, what they represent - they don't represent the mainstream of the clerical establishment.
BLOCK: How would you describe what has happened to the opposition movement in Iran that was so present, so vocal for weeks at a time and now has gone silent, where has it gone?
Mr. MOSTAGHIM: I guess they became simmering frustrations. This is not the first time that the middle class rise to some things and then crack down, and then it goes silent. But sudden eruptions somewhere on different occasions, so anytime it may erupt.
BLOCK: There is talk about a big protest planned for this Thursday, which I gather is the 10th anniversary of a military crackdown at Tehran University.
Mr. MOSTAGHIM: Tehran dorm, yes. It was almost 10 years ago, that is true. And I think that both sides, I mean the militia, the anti-riot police and the people, some of the people, are bracing for that day. You can feel the tense among people from both sides are determination to do whatever they can against each other. So, yes, there might be a pocket of resistance or big rally. Nobody knows. It depends.
Actually, sometimes they don't do the same day, they just postpone it to the next day and they try to catch the anti-riot police by surprise. So, it might not happen on Thursday, it might happen on Friday.
BLOCK: If there are big protests in the streets sometime this week, how would you expect Iranian authorities to respond?
Mr. MOSTAGHIM: Heavy. Heavy crackdown because from whatever we can hear from the IRGC, the Revolutionary Guard Corps and others, they are not going to be lenient. And everybody knows that they are not joking. It is serious.
BLOCK: We've been talking with Ramin Mostaghim. He's a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Tehran.
Mr. Mostaghim, thank you very much.
Mr. MOSTAGHIM: You're welcome, pleasure.
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