Iranian President Ali Khamenei's sister, who recently fled to Iraq, said in an interview pUblished Sunday that Iran is 'spreading the word of God by force' and executing thousands 'in the name of Islam.'
In an interview with the Sunday Times of London, Badri Khamenei, once an ardent supporter of Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said she began changing her mind about the Iranian leadership two years ago.
'Khomeini is spreading the word of God by force,' she said. 'They execute thousands in the name of Islam, but this is against our religion.'
Badri Khamenei recently arrived in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad with her five children after traveling for six days from Iran over a route she refuses to disclose. She joined her exiled husband, Sheikh Ali Tehrani, a clergyman, who fled earlier.
'They arrested and executed 20 of my friends, and two of them, an art student and his wife, were the best friends of my brother, Ali,' she said.
'They killed Qassem, the student, in a particularly ugly way, by extracting all the blood from his body and then cutting off his legs and laying them on his chest,' she said. 'He was accused of being involved in the assassination of a parliamentary candidate, but there was no real evidence against him.
'When I asked Ali about it, he wouldn't say anything except to say he had changed his mind about his friend,' she said.
Khamenei said she and her brother, Ali, were very close as children, but he refused to help her leave Iran after her husband escaped.
'I asked him to help get a passport for me and the children. He refused and referred me to the passport department. I pleaded with him and we argued and shouted. I told him that if he didn't help me, then I would leave Iran anyway, illegally,' she said.
In another development, former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar asked his followers in Iran Sunday not to demonstrate in the streets until he announces his next move to try to overthrow the Khomeini regime.
Bakhtiar made his appeal in a taped message broadcast on the clandestine 'Radio Iran,' said sources in the Paris-based National Iranian Resistance Movement.
Reports from Tehran said several thousand Iranians responded last Friday to a call by Bakhtiar to move out onto the streets of the Iranian capital in a 'silent demonstration' against the Khomeini regime.
The former prime minister said in his broadcast that Iranians continued demonstrating Saturday. Bakhtiar thanked them for their response but said it was 'unnecessary for them to risk their lives' by continuing the protest.
Bakhtiar was in power for less than a month after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 by Khomeini followers.
He took over as prime minister Jan. 17, 1979, the day the Shah fled. Khomeini returned to Iran two weeks later after a 14-year exile. Bakhtiar, an agnostic who believed in separation of church and state, was forced to resign as prime minister Feb. 11 after creation of the Islamic government.