White House to Iran: Allow opposition demonstrations there

The White House said Saturday that, off the heels of 18 days of Egyptian protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Iran should allow its people to demonstrate.

Tehran had praised Egyptians for rising up against Mubarak's secular government, calling it an Islamic awakening. Yet some trace the roots of the grass-roots, social-media-driven revolt in Egypt to the Green Revolution protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's last election and demanding democracy.

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Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroub, both candidates in that election, wanted to stage a rally Monday in support of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. But the regime quickly put a damper on the permit request, calling the rallies "riots by seditionists."

"By announcing that they will not allow opposition protests, the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians," National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said in a statement released by the White House on Saturday.

"We call on the government of Iran to allow the Iranian people the universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate that’s being exercised in Cairo," he said.

Iran tried to draw parallels between Egypt and its own Islamic Revolution. "The voices heard from the Middle-Eastern countries today are the same voices heard in Iran 32 years ago," Inspector General Mostafa Pourmohammadi said Friday, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.


"The U.S. and Europe should account for their 30-year-long support for Egypt's dictator against the people," Iran's National Security Secretary Saeed Jalili said Saturday. "Mubarak and his US and European supporters heard the voice of the Egyptian people after 30 years."

Police clashed with protesters in Algeria on Saturday, while thousands demonstrated in Yemen.

President Obama called a number of foreign leaders regarding the Egypt transition Saturday, including King Abdullah of Jordan, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Obama praised the Egyptian army's announcement that it will "stand by Egypt's international obligations," which includes a peace treaty with Israel.

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