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Iranian Authorities Worry Over Uprisings and the PMOI/MEK

By Mahmoud Hakamian

This past Sunday, on the anniversary of the “Ashura uprising” that occurred in December 2009, when thousands of Iranians took to the streets in several cities and confronted security forces in heavy clashes, the regime held “anti-demonstrations” — government organized gatherings arranged to prevent protests from breaking out.

Despite government efforts, the events drew few attendants besides agents of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij.

High-ranking Iranian officials made remarks at the occasion that displayed the tension the regime is experiencing over the continuing protests across the country, as well as the role played by the Iranian opposition.

For instance, Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Iranian regime’s parliament, warned, “Opportunists and anti-revolutionaries want to take advantage of the political turmoil inside the country,” when he spoke on the occasion of the Ashura uprising. “The opponents of the revolution are seeking an opportunity to cause damage to the revolution.”

Also addressing the regime’s concerns with the opposition, MP Naser Mousavi Larigani said during a parliament session, “The 2009 sedition pursued the aims of the PMOI/MEK to destroy our system.”

One of the directors of Fars News Agency, Abdollah Ganji, said, “The PMOI/MEK members who were relocated from Iraq to Albania are creating content for social media networks.” Ganji also described the MEK’s role in publishing news about labor strikes and protests, and in revealing details about the lifestyles of Iranian officials and their children abroad — an extreme contrast to the poverty that millions of Iranians suffer.

Ahmad Khatami, member of the presidency council of the Assembly of Experts, cautioned, “The people of Tehran saw eight months of strife. They saw that [MEK] causes strife on every national celebration. On every national and religious celebration, they undermine the security of the people.”

Another member of parliament, Jahanbakhsh Mohebinia, discussed the prospects of protests in the coming year, “The government and judiciary should not paint an eventful picture of the year to come. The current Persian year has not yet ended and we’re already talking about what troubles we’ll be facing next year.”

Many regime officials, including Ahmad Alamolhoda, one of the senior clerics and a regular speaker at Tehran’s Friday prayers, blame the MEK for the Ashura uprising. Alamolhoda stated, “The rioters of Ashura [2009] were chanting the slogans of the [MEK], so they were the assistance of [MEK]. The [MEK] commanded the movements on Ashura day.”

Every segment of Iranian society, including workers, teachers, students, truck drivers, merchants and farmers blame the regime for their economic, social and political problems. The chants calling for the overthrow of the regime in its entirety have become commonplace.

The fear that Iranian officials feel is well-placed.

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