Iran opposition leader Karroubi survives shooting, son says


The son of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi on Friday accused hard-line pro-government militiamen and Revolutionary Guard members of trying to assassinate his father a night earlier.

Hossein Karroubi alleged that commanders of the Revolutionary Guard gathered a raucous crowd of local Basiji militiamen in the city Qazvin, 90 miles from Tehran, and fired two shots at the car in which the elder Karroubi was riding, shattering the vehicle’s windows.

“If the car was not armored there would have been serious injuries to the people inside,” Hossein Karroubi said in an interview with the American-funded Persian-language satellite channel Voice of America.

The incident, reported on the elder Karroubi’s website,, came a week after tens of thousands of government supporters called for the deaths of Karroubi and another defeated presidential candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, at a downtown Tehran rally that was broadcast live on state-controlled television.

It also came amid a torrent of official demands for harsh punishment of foot soldiers and leaders of an opposition movement that stemmed from the disputed June election, which has shaken the Iranian establishment.

Prayer leader Kazem Sedighi appeared to sanctify vigilante violence against opposition leaders Friday during the nation’s keynote religious sermon.

“If law breaking continues, and the judiciary and the security and military forces fail to extinguish the fire of conspiracy, and the ringleaders of conspiracy continue targeting people’s religion, the revolutionary Iranian nation will no longer tolerate it,” he told worshipers in Tehran.

Meanwhile, a wave of arrests and prosecutions of dissidents continues across Iran. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said this week that five suspects had been charged with the capital offense of being enemies of God and that seven of those arrested for organizing protests last month were members of Iran’s Bahai faith, an outlawed religious minority.

The prosecutor said the seven were arrested for their actions during protests coinciding with the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura and not for their beliefs, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

But the opposition movement shows no signs of being cowed by the threats of hard-liners.

Hossein Karroubi’s interview itself was an act of defiance. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security this week blacklisted Voice of America, known as VOA, and five dozen other foreign organizations as entities Iranians must avoid.

He told VOA that Revolutionary Guard commanders in Qazvin rounded up 500 or so Basiji militiamen to menace his 72-year-old father with stones and bricks. Local police tried unsuccessfully to break up the mob. The alleged assassination attempt will not intimidate his father, Hossein Karroubi said.

“In many ways his spirits are higher than ever,” he told VOA.

Opposition leaders complain that they have no access to Iran’s state television channels, which are under the control of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and hard-liners close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This week, Iran’s English-language Press TV channel began broadcasting snippets of a documentary about Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old woman who became an international symbol for the protest movement after her death in June was captured on video.

The documentary alleges that Agha-Soltan was killed by enemies of the Islamic Republic after she tried to stage being shot to make the government look bad.

Witnesses and political activists say Agha-Soltan was fatally shot by Abbas Kargar Javid, a plainclothes pro-government militiaman who was detained by protesters.

A photo of his driver’s license and video showing him stripped from the waist up by protesters have been posted on the Internet.