The G8 Condemn Iran, the Mullahs Harden

From the NYTimes:

TEHRAN — Despite new criticism from President Obama, the Iranian authorities showed no sign Friday of bending to domestic or foreign pressure, saying that the disputed presidential vote on June 12 was the “healthiest” in three decades.

The uncompromising words emerged as the Group of Eight countries, including the United States, fired a fresh broadside Friday, saying they “deplored” the post-election violence and demanding that the “the will of the Iranian people is reflected in the electoral process.”

In Washington, President Obama accused Tehran of violating “universal norms, international norms,” and saying that the bravery of the Iranian people is “a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice.”

“The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous,” the president said, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by his side. “And despite the government’s efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it, and we condemn it.”

The president also conceded that the crackdown would complicate his plans to have a dialogue with Tehran, saying: “There is no doubt that any direct dialogue or diplomacy with Iran is going to be affected by the events of the last several weeks.”

Chancellor Merkel, too, was harshly critical of the Iranian leadership, declaring in German that Iranians should be able to demonstrate peacefully and to have their votes count. “The rights of human beings, of individuals, of citizens are indivisible the world over and also apply, therefore, to the Iranian people,” she said.

But there seemed little likelihood that the Iranian authorities would be swayed by the harsh words, as a senior cleric called for demonstrators to be punished “ruthlessly and savagely.”

At Friday prayers at Tehran University, a senior cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, referred to the demonstrators as rioters and declared, “I want the judiciary to punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson.”

Reuters quoted him as saying that demonstrators should be tried for waging war against God. The punishment for such offenses under Islamic law is death, Reuters said.

The cleric’s remarks represented a significant hardening of official rhetoric as the authorities confronted the biggest political challenge since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Yet. because Ayatollah Khatami is not regarded as a high-profile figure, it was not clear how much weight his words carried.