Rare show of dissent in Iran as millions mourn ex-president Rafsanjani

The Guardian reports: The funeral of Iran’s former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has turned into a rare display of public dissent as at least 2 million people packed the streets of Tehran to pay tribute to a man whose death has shaken the country’s political balance.

In what was thought to be the biggest crowd honouring a politician since the death in 1989 of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iranians from across the political spectrum attended the funeral.

All attempted to claim Rafsanjani, who died on Sunday aged 82, as their own as he was buried alongside Khomeini in a sumptuous shrine in south Tehran.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led the funeral prayers at Tehran University campus as critics and supporters stood behind him, bidding farewell to a man who was considered a pillar of the Islamic republic, a crucial mediator and, more recently, an advocate of political openness and better relations with the west.

But in the streets outside, mourners sympathetic to the opposition and supporters of Iran’s pro-reform Green movement, which was suppressed in bloody unrest in 2009, voiced dissent, chanting in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, opposition leaders under house arrest. [Continue reading…]

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