Rafsanjani speaks at Friday Prayers

Yesterday was another defining moment in the movement in Iran. Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani gave the Friday Prayer. He is on the Assembly of Experts which is the group responsible for appointing, monitoring, and dismissing the Supreme Leader. As an Ayatollah he is in rotation of giving the Friday Prayers and this is the first time a pro-reform leader has been in such a position. There was lots of speculation how far Rafsanjani would go in his speech. At the same time numbers of people in the street rivaled early days after the elections as hundreds of thousands, possibly a million, gathered in the streets, many shouting "death to the dictator" and "I am ready to die to get my vote back," strong signs that this movement is still in its early stages. Meanwhile, Mousavi may be calling for the military for support.

He made a number of points during his speech. Calling for the freeing of prisoners, stating peoples voices need to be heard and censorship in the media needs to stop. He called for talks to dispute the crisis, and said the Government and security forces should act within the limits of the law. He criticized the Guardian Council for not acting faster and called for unity. In a rare move, state TV did not run the speech, but instead had said Rafsanjani had simply called for unity trying to quiet the protests. Rafsanjani noted China should listen to all its people and was critical of their response to the protest there. He also mentioned violence in Palestine and Pakistan.

Many pro-reform politicians were at the prayer including Mir Hossein Mousavi. Rafsanjani tried to quiet down slogans and chants, but they sporadically appeared.

Protesters inside the mosque chanted “Allah o Akbar”, “Azadi… Azadi” (Freedom… Freedom) and slogans against Russia and China.


It is worth mentioning that there was a loudspeaker inside the mosque which chanted, “Death to America!”, but every time that slogan was heard, people loudly replied with, “Death to Russia, Death to China!”

Numbers of people in the streets was anywhere between hundreds of thousands to over a million. A group gathered around Evin Prison, where many protesters are being held. Basijis forces clashed with protesters using teargas, batons, knives, and tasers. There were reports of them targeting women, pulling them away from the crowds.

Basijis and other security forces today brutalized protesters once again. At least two people were shot and one girl was reportedly killed during the protests. Basijis used batons to beat people – even small children and women were not spared. Many women were reportedly stabbed with knives by Basijis dressed as women. Several mosques around the city were packed with Basijis waiting to come out and clash with protesters.

I also got unconfirmed reports from Twitter that Mousavi was with a group of protesters converging at the Interior Ministry in an attempt to get the military to his side. There were also talks of him being arrested if he were to speak. A general strike is to be called if Mousavi is arrested. I'll report more on this if I hear anything else. It has been confirmed that 36 high ranking military personnel were arrested along with a number of lower ranking officials. We may see more concrete developments involving the military in the coming days. It should be noted that neither the Iran Revolutionary Guard nor the Army has really involved itself in the unrest.

I also found news of oil workers being arrested due to fear of strike. Weeks ago when talk of a general strike first started it was stated that the oil workers would be the first to strike.