TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's main opposition leader said Thursday that he has demanded permission from authorities for a rally to counter accusations his supporters desecrated a photo of the revered founder of the Islamic Republic.
The opposition accuses the government of staging video of someone destroying Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's picture during student demonstrations on Dec. 7 to discredit their pro-reform movement.
The government has used the footage to marshal its supporters into the streets to vilify the beleaguered opposition, which had just begun to regain some momentum with several days of protests on university campuses in the past week. The government plans more demonstrations around the issue of the Khomeini photo on Friday after midday Muslim prayers.
The Web site of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who challenged hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June's election, said Thursday that authorities have not responded to his request to stage a rally to demonstrate that his supporters also respect Khomeini.
"It would benefit the country if a positive answer were given," he said, according to the Kalemeh Web site.
Reformists contend that Ahmadinejad was re-elected by massive vote fraud. Those claims brought hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets at the height of the post-election unrest over the summer.
The protests evolved into a broader confrontation against the country's ruling theocracy, but eventually died down in the face of a harsh crackdown by security forces.