TEHRAN, June 29 (UPI) -- Unity among the people of Iran can't be secured through intimidating messages, Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi said.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told a group of university students last week that "solidarity and sympathy" were "highly vital" for the Islamic republic.
Karroubi, a candidate in the volatile presidential election in Iran in 2009, responded by saying unity in Iran cannot come through intimidation, reports Radio Zamaneh, a Persian news service in the Netherlands
"Unity cannot be achieved with violence and pressure, with incarcerations and long imprisonments, with insults and disrespect toward senior Shiite leaders, with threats and intimidation, with shutting down newspapers and with banning the activity of political organizations," the opposition leader said.
The clerical regime in Tehran frequently responds to opposition in the media by shutting down news outlets viewed as out of step with the Islamic republic. Press freedoms were curbed substantially in the wake of the crackdown that greeted demonstrations against the election victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
Karroubi said Iranian solidarity would best be secured through the release of political prisoners and more press freedoms.
Hundreds were detained and several dissidents were executed during the post-election unrest in Iran.