Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Prayers for the Majority

The Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran today was very different from other weeks. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has clearly opposed current government policies, led the prayers. People, from all walks of life particularly supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, took part with the hope of expressing their continued protest against the government. Hundreds of thousands of people took part inspite of tense security conditons. Mobile connections were cut off, thousands of police and anti-riot militia lined in the major streets leading to the Tehran University. I took part along with friends and family , we sat in Taleghani avenue and witnessed the presence of large populations who were calmly demonstrating and expressing their support for Mousavi and Hashemi. Although we could not see , but news reports indicated that Mir Hossein Mousavi, sat among the worshippers, attending for the first time since the turmoil began. Many of the tens of thousands at the prayers wore headbands or wristbands in his campaign color green, or had green prayer rugs.We also experienced the smell of tear gas among the worshippers.
Mr. Hashemi spoke firmly despite prior speculation that he would take a conservative stance. He reprimanded the Guardian Council (the body in charge of election oversight) for not listening to the controversy over the election, which was declared a victory for Ahmadinejad despite widespread claims of fraud by all three rival candidates.

"Doubt has been created (about the election results)," Rafsanjani said. "There is a large portion of the wise people who say they have doubts. We need to take action to remove this doubt." He spoke about he spoke of how Prophet Muhammad (SA)"respected the rights" of his people. He recalled the days of protest that people had against the "arrogant" Shah. He criticized the postelection wave of arrests, saying that the system should show sympathy for protesters and urging the release of those detained.
In his sermon, Hashemi Rafsanjani said the Islamic Republic must listen to the people's voices. "We believe in the Islamic Republic ... they have to stand together," he said. "If 'Islamic' doesn't exist, we will go astray. And if 'republic' is not there, (our goals) won't be achieved. Where people are not present or their vote is not considered, that government is not Islamic."

After the prayer ceremony tens of thousands of people marched , chanting slogans such as Mousavi's name and "coup detat government resign resign!". After weeks of suppression of demonstrations and arrests and detainment of students and opposition leaders the people are still in the scene and hopeful for change in the future. It seems that the faith that they have in their campaign has given them the strength and courage to continue. We arrived back home at 4 pm, exhausted and stricken by the sun and 40 degree celsius heat in Tehran.

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