“Serious confrontation has to be against the leaders and key elements, against those who organized and provoked (the riots) and carried out the enemy’s plan. They have to be dealt with seriously,” Ahmadinejad told a crowd of thousands in the capital Tehran before Friday prayers.

The president said prominent activists who are currently standing trial have to be treated with “Islamic mercy,” portraying them as “deceived” into taking part in the unrest.

“These deceived and second-hand elements have to be dealt with Islamic mercy. Don’t give immunity and protection to the main elements and punish the deceived and second-hand elements,” he said.