Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani delivered a
blistering Friday prayer sermon at Tehran University, before a crowd of
thousands, warning those in high places to abide by the will of the
people and to heal the wounds of the recent crisis.
Thousands of people chanted as they
listened to former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani deliver
his much-anticipated Friday prayer sermon, and key figures of the
opposition movement, including defeated presidential candidate Mir
Hossein Mousavi and former President Mohammed Khatami, attended in a
calculated show of force.
Former President Rafsanjani delivered
a scathing attack against those in power, arguing that "if the people
are not content with the government, it loses its legitimacy." He said
this was the "way of the Imam, [Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah
Khomeini]" and also the "way of the Prophet [Mohammed]."
former president also peppered his sermon with anecdotes of his years
alongside the founder of Iran's Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini noting that the Ayatollah withdrew his support for (former
Prime Minister Mehdi) Bazargan, after he had lost the support of the
In a clear allusion to the incumbent President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, former president Rafsanjani argued that the Prophet
(Mohammed) warned one of his followers that "if the people aren't happy
with you, then you cannot rule over them."
He stressed "The
people are the backbone of the Islamic Republic," and he said,"we have
an Islamic system, but we are above all a republic, which rests on the
will of the people, and all of our officials are elected by the people."
former president insisted that the only way out of the current crisis,
which began with the disputed June 12 presidential election, was for
"everyone to follow the law, including the president, the parliament
and [the other] branches of the [republic]."
Only Iranian radio
broadcast Friday's prayer sermon, however, in an apparent display of
hostility by the pro-Ahmadinejad faction which controls Iranian TV.
TV, instead, focused on a speech by embattled President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad in the city of Mashhad, Thursday, in which he launched his
usual attacks against the West.
Al Arabiya TV reported that
those in charge of the official Iranian Broadcasting Corporation (IRIB)
had been warned at the beginning of the week "not to televise the
Rafsanjani sermon," and also "not to film the crowds in attendance."
former president Rafsanjani also lashed out at the Iranian media for
being biased in its coverage and insisted that the official government
TV must "be a place where the people can debate their ideas," demanding
that its airwaves be opened to everyone.
In the sermon, the
appeal for a free media was followed by an appeal for the release of
all prisoners who are now being held by the government in the wake of
weeks of unrest following the disputed presidential election.
Iranian President Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who lives in exile in Paris,
however, thinks that Rafsandjani's remarks reveal that he has submitted
to the will of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:
says that Rafsanjani did what was expected of him, since he's a man of
the regime. He's submitted to the will of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and
will accept Mr. Ahmedinejad as president. In exchange, Rafsanjani
didn't ask for much, he complains: the freeing of prisoners,
compensation for those who were killed, and a small measure of free
speech. It remains to be seen, he argues, if Mousavi accepts the deal,
and if he does, then, this part of the saga is over. But, he notes, the
people of Tehran are still chanting "down with the dictator," and they
don't accept the proposal; they want their freedom.
say tens of thousands of supporters of Mr. Mousavi demonstrated in
parts of the Iranian capital, after Friday prayers.