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Iran's supreme leader appeals for calm

By Lindsey Hilsum

Updated on 19 June 2009

In his first address since the disputed presidential vote, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for an end to protests and denounced "foreign power" interference in the election result.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Getty)

Khamenei gave his Friday prayer sermon in Tehran since last week's election which sparked the biggest street protests in the Islamic Republic's history. "Today the Iranian nation needs calm," the supreme leader said.    

Khamenei also issued a strong warning to leaders of mass street protests after the election a week ago, which Khamenei said was fairly won by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and not rigged.

"If there is any bloodshed, leaders of the protests will be held directly responsible," the cleric told huge crowds gathered at Tehran University.

Khamenei said Iran's enemies were targeting the Islamic establishment by questioning the authenticity of this month's election.

"The enemies (of Iran) are targeting the Islamic establishment's legitimacy by questioning the election and its authenticity before and after (the vote).

"After street protests, some foreign powers ... started to interfere in Iran's state matters by questioning the result of the vote. They do not know the Iranian nation. I strongly condemn such interference" he said.

International Editor Lindsey Hilsum, who is in Tehran, spoke about what could happen following Khamenei's address.

Listen to her analysis in full here (audio file).

Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned violence and media curbs in Iran in his strongest comments since the disputed presidential election a week ago.

The Foreign Office summoned Iran's ambassador on Friday to complain about remarks by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was quoted as calling Britain "the most treacherous" of Iran's enemies.

Britain has been cautious until now in its comments on the Iranian election, but Brown has now stepped up his criticism.

Addressing a news conference at the European Union summit in Brussels Gordon Brown said that Britain wanted to protect the right of the Iranian people to elect who they wished.

"It is for Iran now to show the world that the elections have been fair...that the repression and the brutality that we have seen in these last few days is not something that is going to be repeated," Brown said.

"We want Iran to be part of the international community and not to be isolated. But it is for Iran to prove ... that they can respect these basic rights," he said.

Supporters of runner-up Mirhossein Mousavi have held six days of protests since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of the Iranian election.

State media have reported seven or eight people killed in the protests. Scores of reformists have been arrested and authorities have cracked down on foreign and domestic media.

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