- Country singer Tim McGraw not sorry for slapping female fan: ‘Things happen’
- Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks
- White House takes credit for drop in unaccompanied children at border
- International crises be damned, Obama’s fundraising trip must go on
- Friend of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev found guilty of impeding probe
- Train with MH17 plane crash bodies leaves rebel town in Ukraine
- Half of Colorado voters are OK with Hobby Lobby decision, poll shows
- HIV-killing condom to soon hit shelves in Australia
- Estonia pulls plug on Steven Seagal over praise for Putin
- Lawyer: Pelvic exam pics cost Hopkins $190 million
Iran leader Rafsanjani rallies opposition
Question of the Day
Iran’s political opposition mounted a massive new show of strength Friday that included a tough speech by one of Iran’s most influential figures, deepening divisions within the regime’s elite and showing that the crisis gripping the nation for the past five weeks is far from over.
Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, addressing Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time since the disputed June 12 presidential elections, harshly criticized the government for ignoring complaints about electoral fraud.
He said the Islamic Republic was behaving in a manner that was neither Islamic nor respectful of citizens’ rights and called for the release of political prisoners and a restoration of free speech.
“Where people are not present or their vote is not considered, that government is not Islamic,” Mr. Rafsanjani said, according to a translation by the Associated Press.
“Doubt has been created [about the election results],” he said. “There is a large portion of the wise people who say they have doubts. We need to take action to remove this doubt.”
Since the inception of the Islamic government, Mr. Rafsanjani has been among its most powerful members. A close ally of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution, Mr. Rafsanjani has held a series of influential posts. He was speaker of the parliament in the 1980s, president from 1989-1997, and currently heads both the Expediency Council — a body charged with resolving disputes among government institutions — and the Assembly of Experts — a group of 86 Shi’ite Muslim clerics that is supposed to oversee the office of the supreme leader of Iran.
Although Mr. Rafsanjani called for unity in support of the country’s system of government, tens of thousands of those present at the sermon and outside the grounds of Tehran University, chanted slogans demanding “freedom” and criticizing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Police used tear gas on the crowd and arrested dozens, eyewitnesses told The Washington Times.
Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who asserts that he won the presidential election, was among the worshippers for the first time since the disputed vote. Many in the audience wore green headbands or wristbands or had green prayer rugs, the AP reported.
Green was the color of Mr. Mousavi’s campaign.
Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former member of the Iranian parliament who is now a visiting scholar at MITs Center for International Studies, said there were new slogans that showed the crowd’s support for democracy and opposition to authoritarian rule.
“They chanted ‘Death to Russia’ instead of ‘Death to America,’” the standard slogan when pro-government clerics address Friday prayers in Iran, she said.
She said that many Iranians believe that Russia has trained some of Iran’s anti-riot security forces to try to prevent a “color” revolution like those that occurred in former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia.
The AP said some in the crowd also chanted “Death to China” in an apparent critique of China’s recent crackdown on Muslim demonstrators in Xinjiang province, as well as the Iranian government, which has been silent about China’s behavior.
About the Author
Barbara Slavin is assistant managing editor for World and National Security at The Washington Times and the author of a 2007 book on Iran, titled “Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation.” Before joining The Times in July 2008, she was senior diplomatic reporter for USA Today. She has accompanied three secretaries of state ...
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Edward Snowden to work with Russia on anti-spy technology
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- More immigrants deported from New Mexico center
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- Ron Paul: U.S. partly to blame for Malaysia Airlines disaster
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- Pro-Russia rebel commander suggests passengers died days before Malaysian flight
- Vladimir Putin pressured to aid Ukraine plane crash probe, rein in rebels
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq