Khamenei Says Protests Over Iran Vote Must End
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Update: Reports from Iran's capital, Tehran, say riot police used tear gas, sticks and water cannon against protesters on Saturday. State television said police clashed with what it called "rioters." Iran has greatly restricted foreign reporting. Witnesses told VOA's Persian News Network and other news agencies that thousands of people were in the streets attempting to organize protests, against government warnings.
This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Iran's top leader has demanded a stop to protests over the disputed presidential election.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke at Tehran University to a huge crowd for Friday prayers. It was his first speech since last Friday's election. "The result of the election comes from the ballot box," he said, "not from the street."
The supreme leader warned that if the unrest continues, protest leaders will be held responsible for any violence. At least seven protesters were killed Monday during clashes with pro-government militia.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic would not cheat or betray the vote of the people. He said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won by eleven million votes. With that big a difference, he said, how could there have been cheating?
He denounced what he called interference by foreign powers. The crowd shouted "death to America" and "death to Britain."
The speech followed days of protests by hundreds of thousands of supporters of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
The protests in Tehran and other cities have been the worst unrest in Iran since the Islamic revolution thirty years ago.
Iran's Guardian Council -- which supervises elections -- has offered to recount some votes and investigate complaints of wrongdoing.
But the government this week arrested many opposition members, activists and journalists. On Friday, European Union leaders urged the government to permit all citizens the right to assemble and express themselves peacefully.
Iran banned foreign media coverage of the protests. News agencies have depended heavily on information and images sent by Iranians using social media like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Young people especially are finding ways to get around Internet blocking.
On Friday, Facebook announced it is making its Web site available in the Farsi language. Google also has a new Farsi translating tool. And Twitter, at the request of the State Department, delayed a planned shutdown of its service for maintenance.
But American officials deny interfering in Iran's election process. President Obama said Monday that he was deeply troubled by the violence. But he also says it is up to Iranians to decide who their leaders will be. He has not stepped back from his policy of seeking to work with Iran after thirty years without diplomatic ties.
Some say he is being realistic. Others say he should forcefully denounce the election.
On Friday, both houses of Congress passed resolutions expressing support for all Iranians who value freedom, human rights and the rule of law. American lawmakers condemned violence against demonstrators and the suppression of Internet and cellphone communication.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.