TEHRAN: The Iranian government has reportedly arrested former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for inciting unrest and demonstrations through his statements.
Authorities are now seeking to place Ahmadinejad under house arrest with Khamenei’s approval, the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper added, citing “reliable sources in Tehran”.
UK-based newspaper Daily Mail has also run a similar report.
During a visit to Bushehr city late December, Ahmadinejad had said that Iran suffered from “mismanagement” and that current President Hassan Rouhani and his government “believe that they own the land and that the people are an ignorant society,” the newspaper reported.
“Some of the current leaders live detached from the problems and concerns of the people, and do not know anything about the reality of society,” they reported him saying.
Iran’s fifth head of the judicial system, Amole Larijani, had accused Ahmadinejad of inciting more protests, the same accusation directed at prominent Shiite cleric and politician Mehdi Karroubi and former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi which also lead to their house arrest.
In a videotaped statement, Ahmadinejad spoke about Larijani sarcastically saying, “I have no children spying for the West, I have no brothers who are actively smuggling goods, and I do not steal land to raise my cattle.”
The protests currently sweeping Iran are being considered the largest challenge to the Iranian regime since the Green Movement uprising in 2009 after the re-election of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Protests that have rocked Iran have reached the eleventh consecutive day on Sunday. Activists protested last Friday under the slogan “The Friday of Anger for our Martyrs” referring to the 50 protesters who were killed so far by Iranian security forces, according to the opposition.
According to the government, the official number of deaths since the uprising is 22. However, opposition announced that the toll has reached 50 on Friday.
Iran parliament holds special meeting on protests: AFP
According to AFP, Iranian lawmakers held a closed-door session on Sunday to discuss the deadly protests that hit the country last week, while more pro-regime rallies were held in several cities.
“The security officials confirmed that most of those arrested have been released,” Gholamreza Heydari, a reformist lawmaker in Tehran, told parliament’s ICANA website.
He was speaking after the session in which MPs grilled Interior Minister Abdolrahmani Rahmani Fazli, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani over the days of unrest that straddled the new year.
Mohammad Reza Kachouie, another deputy, said most of those detained were unemployed people, “without university degrees”.
“The parliament meeting principally looked into the condition of the people, the economic situation and unemployment. The enemy is trying to infiltrate the country by using these issues,” he told ICANA.
A reformist MP Bahram Parsaie said blame should not focus on President Hassan Rouhani but on decades of poor governance.
“I hope we face up to reality and take lessons from past mistakes,” ICANA quoted him as saying.
The protests began on December 28 over economic issues before quickly spiralling out of control and turning against the regime as a whole, leaving 21 dead and hundreds arrested.
Police have previously said they have released many of the hundreds arrested during the unrest, but that the main instigators were “in the hands of the judiciary”.
Some lawmakers voiced concern over the internet controls put in place during the unrest, including a ban on Iran’s most popular messaging app, Telegram, which officials said had been used to incite violence.
“The parliament is not in favour of keeping Telegram filtering in place, but it must pledge that it will not be used as a tool by the enemies of the Iranian people,” Behrouz Nemati, spokesman for the parliament’s presiding board, wrote on Instagram, which was also temporarily blocked during the unrest.
Many Iranians use Telegram as their main source of news and a way of bypassing the highly restrictive state media, with almost a third of Iran’s 80 million people using the app daily.
Some 9,000 online businesses have been disrupted by the blocking, semi-official news agency ISNA reported, quoting a report by the culture ministry’s digital media centre.
Pro-government rallies were again held in several cities on Sunday, this time in Qazvin, Rasht, Shahr-e Kurd and Yazd.
Tens of thousands of people have participated in similar rallies in the past few days.
The rallies are “the people’s response to the rioters and troublemakers and their supporters”, said state television.
It also repeated official claims that the unrest was orchestrated by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia with the complicity of “anti-revolutionary” groups. – Samaa/AFP