Former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani leads Friday prayers
Friday, July 17, 2009
Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Iranian cleric, former president of Iran, and current head of the Expediency Council, has given his first Friday prayer service in Tehran since the disputed June 12 Iranian presidential election.
In the sermon, which was held at Tehran University and twice disrupted by loud chanting from demonstrators, Rafsanjani first discussed the earliest days of Islam and Mohammed's lessons of the importance of human rights for all people and unity among all Muslims. He then made reference to Ja'far al-Sadiq, an 8th century C.E. Islamic leader who, while assisting a rebellion against the Umayyad caliphate, preferred to keep his own views on the conflict to himself.
In his first direct reference to current news events during the sermon, Rafsanjani called upon Chinese leaders to stop their violent suppression of unrest among the largely-Muslim Uyghur people of Xinjiang.
Turning to the disputed June 12 presidential election, Rafsanjani stated that "what happened after the election was not what we expected it to be." The people's participation was to be lauded, he said, and to not listen to the people's voice is against the advice of Ayatollah Khomeini. Rafsanjani first called for the government to obey the rule of law:
Rafsanjani listed several specific "proposals" for restoring unity and trust, all aimed at the government, and making particular reference to the Guardian Council's certification of the election results, which many have termed fraudulent:
Rafsanjani did not specifically mention any current Iranian political figure by name.
Rafsanjani's speech was not broadcast by any Iranian state media outlet, in contrast to the usual practice of broadcasting the Friday prayers live.
Loud chanting was occasionally audible in the speech, with large crowds reportedly present around Tehran University. Unconfirmed reports say that after the sermon ended, a large crowd began moving toward the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)'s headquarters on Vali Asr Avenue. According to an update to Mir-Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page posted last night and a report by Reuters news service, the candidate attended the ceremony.
Related news 
- "Former president Rafsanjani to lead Friday Iran prayers" — Wikinews, July 12, 2009
- "More than 100 die in riots in Ürümqi, China" — Wikinews, July 13, 2009
- Fredrik Dahl. "Rafsanjani casts doubt on Iran election" — , July 17, 2009
- Mir-Hossein Mousavi campaign. "URGENT>CONFIRMED: Mir Hossein Mousavi has announced that he will be joining the masses in attendance at the Friday Prayers this Friday, July 17, 2009, being held at Tehran University in Tehran, Iran. فوری فوری ...تائید شد: میر حسین روز جمعه به همراه صفوف زنجیره سبز به تاریخ پیوند خواهد خورد. تاریخ نویس: آیت الله علی اکبر هاشمی رفسنجانی. رسانه شمائید ولی رادیو هم با خود ببرید" — , July 16, 2009