Israeli president condemns Iranian death calls
February 16, 2011 for The Associated Press
by Josh Lederman
JERUSALEM – Iranian lawmakers are shaming their people by calling for anti-government protesters to be tried and executed, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday.
Calling Iran the source of “the greatest political and moral corruption” in the Middle East, Peres said the Iranian people will stop their own government, referring to the tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Tehran on Monday. Iranian security forces used force to try to disperse the demonstrations. Two people were killed, and dozens injured.
“What the present Iranian leadership does is a shame on Iranian history, the Iranian culture and the pain of their own people,” Peres told a group of American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
In Iranian parliament Tuesday, more than 200 legislators released a statement demanding capital punishment for protest leaders. Video of lawmakers pumping their fists in the air and shouting calls for death to opposition figures evoked the possibility of a violent crackdown of the type imposed by Iran’s Islamic government following the disputed presidential election in 2009.
This week’s demonstrations in Tehran were the first by show of strength by Iranian opposition in more than a year. The protests appear linked to the unrest rippling across the region.
Protest movements have sprung up across the Mideast demanding democracy in the wake of uprisings that topped governments in Tunisia and Egypt.
Iranian leaders have tried to paint the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as an Islamic uprising , a claim Peres rejected.
“It wasn’t organized by an army, it wasn’t organized by a religion, it wasn’t organized by a party , it wasn’t organized at all.” he said. “It was a revolt without leaders.”
Israel has long warned about dangers posed by the Iranian regime and considers Tehran an existential threat.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly referred to Israel’s destruction. Israel says the Iran’s government funds anti-Israel terrorist groups in Lebanon and Gaza. Israel charges that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons – a claim Iran denies.