June 20th, 2009
10:29 AM ET

Amanpour Analysis: Iranian leader's ultimatum to protesters

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/19/iran.amanpour.analysis/art.khamenei.afp.gi.jpg]

Christiane Amanpour | BIO
CNN International Correspondent

Iran's supreme leader delivered an impassioned defense of the Islamic Republic on Friday, insisting a majority of Iranians had faith in the existing establishment and issuing a "religious ultimatum" to protesters to end days of street demonstrations triggered by last week's presidential election.

Addressing a large crowd at Tehran University, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the historic voter turnout of 85 percent legitimized the Islamic system and had been a clear demonstration of the Iranian people's trust in the regime.

He rejected suggestions that fraud or cheating had been involved in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, pointing out that the 11-million vote difference between Ahmadinejad and his principal opponent, Mir Hossein Moussavi, was too large to have been manipulated by vote-rigging.

Khamenei then directly addressed the people on the streets, telling them it was time to end their protests and pursue their grievances through the Guardian Council, which has already said it will recount some of the votes.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Christiane Amanpour • Iran
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. robg

    I have been keeping track of the Iranian election outcome. . . the only comment I will make at this time is that the U.S. and other European nations or any other nations should understand that Iran is an independent nation that has the right to autonomy, rather we agree with them or not. In regards to the possible irregularities in the election, let us not forget the 2000 and 2004 election with former Pres George Bush! No re- election or the opportunity to have votes counter for the old"chad". an if we look at the history of irregulatity in voting in the U.S. and denial of basic rights . . . no nation forced or interfered . . . we must allow other nations to evolve as we have and only encourage and/or lead by example. So. . . let not forget our own past and we try to cast judgement. There is a biblical verse that reads something like. . ."let he without sin cast the first stone" . . . Let's lead by example . . .

    June 22, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  2. Steve Ferzacca

    A Song for the Folk of Iran
    Steve Ferzacca

    The beast is fierce and strong
    It’s prey awake and bright
    Locked in a gruesome fight In the streets of Iran
    We hear your voices clear
    We see the price you pay
    To give your blood and tears in the streets of Iran
    The dawn of a new day
    In this ancient land
    You lead the world today to make a common stand
    Ride a stallion of change
    Reins tightly in your hands
    A holy sense of hope a prayer for Iran
    We hear your voices clear
    We see the price you pay
    To give your blood and tears in the streets of Iran

    June 22, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  3. Herman

    Thanks for great coverage in such a difficult country. What Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his close clerics do not understand is that humam society is dynamic and not stagnant. Iran of 1979 is not the same as Iran of 2009. Over 50% of people living in Iran today are under the age of 30 which meas that they were born immedietly after the revolution. This is a young dynamic demographic, fully wired and connected to the world through technology. They have not seen what the revolution has done to further their lives and are therefore not obligated to be religiously faithful to the regime. This is the group that is going to change Iran in particular and middle east at large.

    June 22, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  4. Gary T.

    Thank you CNN for your incredible coverage of the events in Iran!
    It really is beginning to look like the powers that be in Iran have made some drastic mistakes over the last ten days.
    I wish the Iranian people safety & hope.

    June 22, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  5. gnawley/charley

    To the 'leaders' of Iran, and with all due respect,
    YOU cannot 'sandbag' a Tsunami; the best YOU can do is 'negotiate' it. The 'WAVE' will have it's way.
    Tide & time, waits for NO man.

    June 22, 2009 at 6:22 am |
  6. Hanif

    I hope that those who call on the Americas way of life to air their struggle come to appreciate the freedoms they often condem. In closing my prayers are with those who do seek a more humane democratic society. Namaste

    June 22, 2009 at 6:08 am |
  7. Hanif

    Give me a break! Sure I feel for those people and their struggle but they are not saying they want better relations with the world in general or the United States in particular. We have our own problems. Put the coverage of Irans struggle in perspective with national news. In clos

    June 22, 2009 at 5:59 am |
  8. Francis Michael Palazzolo

    It's just nonsense, that Westerners have the power to persuade Iranians! By the very terms of their ideology, the Conservative Iranian Revolution is constructed as an infallible democracy of GOD. So, either, Iran is great and powerful, the government and the people follow the rules and laws of God, and the Supreme leader speaks the word of God. If so, it's just impossible for the people of Iran to follow the position of Western democracies. Or, if Westerners have the power to persuade Iranians to rebel against themselves, then, Iran is a weak, unstable, and lawless democracy run by a false leader. Obviously, if they were strong, and had an infallible ideology, there would be no need for Iranians to wine about outsiders meddling in their affairs!
    It's just drivel for Iran to be both an infallible democracy of GOD, and for a large portion of its citizens to be influenced by outsiders. Any claim otherwise is impossible and illogical. Such contradictory claims ought to framed as the claptrap that it is, and the bright sunlight of plain and simple logic needs to be cast upon Iran's double talk, or lest we be the continuous fools.

    June 22, 2009 at 5:44 am |
  9. Francis Michael Palazzolo

    Reframing the position of the Conservative Iranian Revolution, and turning the ideological tables on them.
    If Iran has the most stable democracy in the World, it's so great and powerful, the leadership loves it's people, and the government and the people follow the rules and laws of God, how can so many in Iran be swayed to protest against their own government and their own belief in the words of God on Earth, i.e., the words of their Supreme Leader? Furthermore , the basis of this challenge of law and words of God is due to persuasion from peoples that Iranians' despise, disbelieve in, and discredit.
    If there is any truth to the accusations from the Iranian leadership, that their protestors are acting under the influence of Western countries and that these same countries are meddling in the "family affairs of Iran," it is if and only if Iran is not a stable place at all, and the Supreme leader does not speak the word of God. Or, Iran is not so great, and powerful ; instead they're government and people are constituted on weak precepts that not only require ideologies other than their own, but theirs' is definitively inadequate.
    The point is, the world ought NOT fall-into the conservative Iranian trap of either clearly interfering, or coming across as weak on the world stage (from either speaking and acting forcefully, or not, in the wake of Iran's revolution, and atrocities against humanity). Rather by asserting the obvious logic, the world may more clearly read the absurd construct of Iran's ways, and paint them into a corner in which the ultra-conservative revolution is trapped with their own assertions. If we do not turn the ideological table around on them, we will continue to be party to their behavior, and as well be the fool at their party.

    June 22, 2009 at 4:30 am |
  10. mutsinzi ceaser

    they must be reforms in iranian constitution ==is ayatollhah or the constitution . hossein moussavi is correct to protest

    June 22, 2009 at 3:32 am |
  11. Kamran Phx Az

    To all hard worker CNN reporters, Thank you so much for extensive coverage on Iran, you are the only broadcasting news providing around the o’clock coverage on Iran, as an American/ Iranian I appreciate your hard work. Second I appreciate President Obama’s standing we just need moral support and I assure you Mark my words there will be a street in Tehran name after Brak Hussein Obama soon that’s how optimistic I am of Iran’s future, both nations soon will be great friends for many years to come.
    Long life, Freedom.

    June 22, 2009 at 12:22 am |
  12. Reihaneh

    Please read this e-mail on your program, about the girl named Neda who was silenced last week in Tehran.
    Neda, we Iranina women love you and our heart breaks for seeing your beautiful face covered in blood.
    Our sympathy to your family and we wish them patients. Our hear breaks and tears can not heal the pain of witnessing the suffering of our young people in the last 8 days.
    As for you Neda, in Islam you are considered a “martyr” a “shaheed”. Your place will be the highest levels of heaven. Your death will give us courage to stand for what is right, for freedom and human rights for all. “who saves a life is like saving the whole of humanity, who kills an innocent is like killing the whole”. They have blood of innocent on their hands.

    June 22, 2009 at 12:22 am |
  13. jackie sauer

    I am looking forward to your publishing date, 44 Days : Iran and the Remaking of the World. I'll get a copy of Attacks on the Press in 2007. I am writing a portfolio to submit to CNN discussing my take on stories such as Iran's Civil Unrest, etc.

    I want to tell you how much I admire and respect your work and your perspective. I first noticed you in 2000.

    June 22, 2009 at 12:09 am |
  14. David

    I am scared of guns and would never own one but just to know I have the right to bear arms makes me feel like a free man. America this is why we need to honor and never allow our gov't to take away our rights to keep and bear arms- If the people in Iran had that right they would be able to protect themselves from the suppressors.

    June 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  15. Behrooz

    My friends are asking what we can do? How United States can help people?
    This is a simple answer:
    – provide means of communications: US technically is capable of sending UHF TV programs directly from satellite.
    – US can dedicate a cell-phone carrier satellite to help cell phone users in Iran have another way to upload videos, audios and call each other for help or for announcements.
    – US can focus its sophisticated imaging satellites to take pictures, streaming videos from Tehran and other cities, giving the people inside and outside of Iran some views of the magnitude of this movement.
    – US can rent Iranian satellites (broadcast from Los Angeles), to send information about Iranian movement and their supporters abroad.
    and many other ways, IF US really wants to help.

    June 21, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  16. benny

    They need to remove the mollahs from power. Killing innocent people in cold blood is evil. Iran has suffered for 30 years under this evil regime and they need to be freed.

    June 21, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  17. Lloyd M Abrahams CPA

    Copy of a Letter sent to
    Dear POTUS, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Here is a suggestion for dealing with the Iranian Election crisis.
    Why not send a diplomatic communication direct to the Supreme Leader, where in the form of a suggestion and a question – rather than as statement of meddling in internal politics as follows:

    As a constructive suggestion I ask you why is it not your wisdom and in your best interests, in the best interests of the Iranian people, and in your government's best interest that you as Supreme Leader call for a complete redo of the election with recognized monitors from all Iranian candidates?
    If the election results reported by your government were correct that the existing President won with a 2 to 1 majority, what do you or he have to fear? This would prove that you are the wise Supreme Leader, who only has the best interests of your people at heart. A new monitored election would confirm the results of the first election and bring the Iranian people together and the Iranian people would be shouting long life to the Supreme Leader.
    This suggestion and questions are made in good faith in support that you have the best interests of the Iranian people at the heart of your convictions.
    If this "Suggestion" is sent as a diplomatic communication to the Supreme Leader of Iran, it would be difficult for him to say that you are "meddling" in Iranian internal affairs.

    MRCANDU10 (Cousin of Mr Get It Done)

    June 21, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  18. Ella Crabb

    Anderson, I hope you and Christiane will stay out of Iran. The
    young people are doing what needs to be done on Twitter.
    We need you too much!!! Ella

    June 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  19. adela palenzuela

    In full support of the good people of Iran, we can hear you laud and clear!

    adela palenzuela
    miami fl

    June 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  20. sofia poullada

    Distinguished Iranian women. Please don't just interview Iranian men. I would have put the link to Mehrangiz Kar's' website at Harvard here in this comment,, but I understand if i put any link the comment will be pulled. Her website has some important, relevant analysis.

    Please contact Mehrangiz Kar at Harvard. She is the preeminent Iranian woman outside of Iran on Human Rights issues. She is at the same level in Iranian culture as Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Prize).
    Also many people are very concerned about what has happened to Shirin Ebadi??? She has not been heard from. Very unusual for her to not speak out. Has she been arrested?
    Thank you,
    Sofia Poullada

    June 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  21. Eva Marie Willis

    When is the recount going to happen or is it?

    June 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  22. ellen stevenson

    So disappointed in CNN's lack of cutting edge info on the Iranian crisis. Pre-packaged programming in the midst of a crisis of this magnatude is just not the old CNN we expect. We all expected more of CNN – this is a situation where the bravery of a nation's people is overwhelming us all around the world – where are you?

    June 21, 2009 at 11:31 am |
  23. savedone_2

    People in Teran should fight for thier rights, Just as we fought for ours with Martin L King. Everybody everywhere in the world should have the right to express themselves. The so-called FREE-WORLD

    June 21, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  24. Miriam Harpaz, Glenview, IL

    I was watching the last part of Christiane's report and I sincerely wished that I saw it from the beginning.All of us must stand behind the Iranian protesters. I feel that if the young people are victors that this will finally breakdown the stranglehold the Muslim religion has on the Middle East. My husband was born and raised in Israel and never witnessed Muslim fanaticism until the past thirty years. If we all have to take the streets or pledge money to help the brave patriots than so be it. As we remember our Independence Day, our nation went through something similar to establish itself. Now we can see the true cost of freedom We must never forget where we come from and help others in that plight.

    June 21, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    Still you fail to give the reality:-
    1) Total eligible voters numbers and turnout.
    2) Claimed result margin 11 million? and votes for each candidate claimed, Ther ewere 4 I believe!!
    3) Therfore the level of the innherent fraud and it's likelihood of being a realistic complaint.
    Yes Mousavi may have garnered more votes than indicated, but enough to be a second round challenger at present seems to me unlikely and just the US interfering again in another sovereign states political process.
    Do you ever learn!! I am not saying you are wrong but your reporting is biased towards US perceived interests, which are not viable, at least based on what I hear from global assessment.

    June 21, 2009 at 5:48 am |
  26. Miriam Wollenweber

    Student in Iran are open there are eyes. Today, with Internet they can see how people live in USA and rest of the world. Iran people are smart and they want democracy. They have right to protect and change the route of Iran. Religion never shoud be mix with politic. Iranian leader should modify the way of thinking and work for the progres of Iran and families Also, they should stop thinking in nuclear war. Irani need a reform and prosperity.

    June 21, 2009 at 3:21 am |
  27. Nicholas Ricciardelli

    I think the Iranian people should have their freedom from dictatorship, in their country. I think the supreme leader should be scared, their eyes are opened. It is sad to whatch them intimidate their own people. I think definate change is on the way for them. T/Y

    June 21, 2009 at 3:19 am |
  28. megan

    I am an Iranian American. I voted for president Obama and contributed to his campaign, I want my vote back. How can president of the most poweful country in the world just sit there and be quite. These brave people need help to over come this regime. We have soldiers on both sides of Iran(afghanestan and Araq) I'm sure it wont be difficult to support this cause

    June 21, 2009 at 2:57 am |
  29. Rama

    Thank CNN for maintaining an open window on Iran. We in the Cayman Islands are following your reporting and are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iran in their fight for freedom and democracy. Please let them know we stand firm with them in true conviction they will prevail in the end.

    June 21, 2009 at 2:56 am |
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