Karroubi: The slogans are getting more and more radical on both sides. That is the result of the intransigent approach of the government and its security forces.
SPIEGEL: Has the protest movement distanced itself from its leaders?
Karroubi: Mousavi and I have served the people in a number of positions of responsibility. As a result we have a certain amount of influence. But Mousavi does not have an organization behind him. I have a political party, but its work is restricted. The protest is a popular movement that is comprised of people from a wide variety of social classes and which acts independently …
SPIEGEL: … and which is now calling the entire system into question.
Karroubi: The Iranian people have a well-developed political consciousness. I place my trust in reason and people's experience.
SPIEGEL: The violence is escalating. Is the country in danger of descending into anarchy?
Karroubi: I fundamentally condemn any acts of violence. But naturally there are clashes when security forces take action against the people. Initially they (the protestors) allowed themselves to be beaten up. It was the other side who pushed them so far that they are now defending themselves. It is very possible that things will get out of control. But the government is responsible for that.
SPIEGEL: Do you think the government will last for the full four years of its term?
Karroubi: If Ahmadinejad loses his support, then the parliament will topple him. Many conservative groups oppose him. He is only able to hold on to power with the help of the militias.
SPIEGEL: How can the West support the opposition?
Karroubi: Every movement should be based on the support of its own people. Countries that provide assistance from the outside are doing this out of their own interests. It is enough if nothing false is reported about us abroad -- for example, that the movement is dead.
SPIEGEL: Do you believe that Iran can continue as a theocracy?
Karroubi: Yes, I continue to believe in a religious state. But not one in which people celebrate during Friday prayers the fact that the children of our own people are being murdered and even announce that they will kill even more of them.
Excerpted from an interview recorded in Tehran.