Iran demos inspired Arab uprisings: Mousavi

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi
© AFP/File Behrouz Mehri

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi
© AFP/File Behrouz Mehri

TEHRAN (AFP) – The demonstrations in Iran after its disputed 2009 presidential election served to inspire the Tunisia uprising and the mass protests in Egypt, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said on Saturday.

“Undoubtedly, the starting point of what we are witnessing in the streets of Tunis, Sanaa, Cairo, Alexandria and Suez should be seen in the (Iranian) protests” of June 2009, Mousavi said on his website

Soon after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, tens of thousands of Mousavi supporters took to the streets of Tehran charging the poll was rigged.

Massive protests shook the pillars of Iran’s Islamic regime and divided the clerical elite, in one of the worst crises faced by Tehran since its 1979 revolution which toppled the shah.

“The Middle East is on the threshold of great events these days that can affect the fate of the region and the world,” Mousavi said, likening the mass demonstrations in Arab countries to the post-election protests in Iran.

Mobile phone and Internet services were shut down or disrupted in Egypt on Friday, as was the case in non-Arab Iran in the early days of unrest after the election, he noted.

“Social networking sites, the press, text services, the Internet … are being disrupted in the same way and protesters are being jailed” like they were in Iran two years ago, he said.

Iranian authorities launched a massive crackdown on the anti-government protesters in a bid to quell the demonstrations which saw dozens of people killed, scores wounded and thousands arrested in 2009.

Mousavi blamed the anger of protesters on Arab streets on “inefficiency and corruption at the top level of government.”

Ties between Tehran and Cairo were severed in 1980, a year after the Islamic revolution and the signing of an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The two Muslim countries have interest sections in each other’s capital.