Iranian cleric’s speech fans flames of opposition

July 17, 2009

(ChattahBox) — In a landmark speech before tens of thousands of people, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani challenged the supreme leader during Muslim prayers, criticizing restrictions of media, and suppression of activists. The event is already considered by analysts as the most important and most turbulent Friday prayer in the history of contemporary Iran, openly showing the divisions in the leadership and represented the biggest opposition show of strength in weeks. Rafsanjani who is the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a deliberative body of Mujtahids that is charged with electing, monitoring, and dismissing the Supreme Leader, reprimanded the clerical leadership for not listening to people’s complaints over the election.

“There is a large portion of the wise people who say they have doubts (referring to the election). We need to take action to remove this doubt,” he said. “The trust that brought the people to vote in such large numbers is not there anymore. We need to return this trust.”

In a very profound confrontation during the speech hardline heckler supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chanted the traditional “death to America,” while opposition supporters countered with azadi (freedom) as well as “death to Russia” and “death to China” – a reference to the government’s current allies. Some accounts of Rafsanjani’s speech say the chants against China broke out after the cleric condemned China’s crackdown in Xinjiang.

Among those attending the sermon at Tehran University were opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who ran against Ahmadinejad in the election

Shortly after the sermon, thousands of Mousavi supporters demonstrated around Tehran University, swarming the streets near the university pavilion where Rafsanjani spoke.

Information for this story was derived from the AP


One Response to “Iranian cleric’s speech fans flames of opposition”

  1. Iran’s supreme leader rejects president’s top deputy for not being anti-Israel | ChattahBox News Blog on July 22nd, 2009 12:53 pm

    […] unrest after the presidential elections in Iran and the former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani challenging the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during Muslim prayers, Khamenei is struggling to keep hard-liners’ […]

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