The funeral for one of the founding fathers of Iran’s regime Tuesday provided a forum for a rare demonstration by the country’s long-silenced opposition.
Mourners packed the streets of downtown Tehran for the funeral procession of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The crowd was estimated by Tehran’s governor at up to 2.5 million people and became, in effect, parallel funerals. One featured Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior officials honoring Mr. Rafsanjani. The other included protests in support of Green Movement opposition leaders.
It was a rare public demonstration since the 2009 unrest that rocked the country in the aftermath of a contested presidential election.
Mr. Rafsanjani, a central figure in the 1979 Iranian revolution, was considered one of the pillars of Iran’s political establishment. In 2009, Mr. Rafsanjani took the side of the opposition, delivering a memorable Friday prayer sermon in which he criticized the regime crackdowns.
As a van draped in black carrying Mr. Rafsanjani’s body moved slowly through the packed streets, crowds of men and women, young and old, lifted their fists in the air and chanted, “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein,” and “Our demand is clear, end the house arrest,” referring to Messrs. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the leaders of the opposition Green Movement who have been under house arrest for six years.Read More...
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