Iran – 7/17

Rafsanjani backs tolerance, dialogue

Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s premier power broker and a force behind opposition figurehead Mir-Hossein Mousavi, took the podium for Friday prayers today for the first time in eight weeks, urging tolerance and dialogue but acknowledging that the disputed election results had “created bitter conditions” for the country.

Tens of thousands of supporters of Mousavi crammed into downtown Tehran early this afternoon, some with emblematic green ribbons wrapped around their fingers, to attend the sermon by Rafsanjani that could herald a new stage in the political drama that has followed the marred June 12 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We could have taken our best step in the history of the Islamic revolution had the election not faced problems,” he told worshipers. “We are in doubt today. Today, we are living bitter conditions due to what happened after the announcement of the election result. All of us have suffered. We need unity more than anytime else.” [continued…]

Something profound has changed. Iranians are losing their fear and mock the official line

Until recently, it was almost unheard of to utter criticism and the name of the Supreme Leader in the same breath. But now, even Ayatollah Ali Khamenei does not escape, and I don’t mean just in conversations between trusted friends. My own father, seriously mistrustful of talking about anything meaningful on the telephone, has given up observing his own cautious rules after almost three decades.

The people who are now daring to speak out like my father are not all intellectuals from north Tehran. Nor are they organised resistance. They are fed up with their salaries being eaten by inflation, or that their university-educated children have no prospect of a job. And they seethe at the unimaginable gap between them and loyal members of the Revolutionary Guard who have recently enjoyed salary rises. [continued…]

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