Ali Akbar Hashemi Rasanjani holdt fredagsbønnen i Teheran for det som like mye var et opposisjonsmøte. Han erkjente at landet befant seg i en krise, og at det var nødvendig å lytte til folket for å løse den. Rasanjani sa han ville redde den islamske republikken, men utenfor ropte folk «død over diktatoren».

In his sermon broadcast live on radio nationwide, Rafsanjani reprimanded the clerical leadership for not listening to the controversy over the election, which was declared a victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in results that Mousavi’s supporters say were fraudulent.

«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.»

Rafsanjani couched his sermon in calls for unity in support of Iran’s Islamic Republic. But his sermon was an unmistakable — if implicit — challenge to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has declared Ahmadinejad’s victory valid and demanded an end to questioning of the results.

Rafsanjani said the people’s voice must be considered. «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.»

He criticized the postelection crackdown and urged the release of those arrested and said the government reaction had split the nation’s clerics. «I hope this Friday prayer sermon will be the beginning of a development and will help us pass safely through this problem, which can be unfortunately called a crisis,» he said.

Bønnen foregikk på en fotballbane på universitet. Utenfor arenaen hørtes nye slagord. Hardlinere ropte «død over Amerika», og fikk til svar: «død over Kina», «død over Russland», fordi disse regimene støtter Ahmadinejad.

Basji-militsen aktet ikke å la opposisjonen råde grunnen og var møtt frem for å spre skrekk.

The scene outside the university on Friday was tumultuous, as hundreds of Mousavi backers converged on the gates. Before the sermon, police fired tear gas at some trying to enter the prayer. When Mahdi Karroubi, another pro-reform candidate in the June election, headed for the prayers, plainclothes hard-line supporters attacked him, shoving him and knocking his turban to the ground, witnesses said. «Death to the opponent of Velayat-e-Faqih,» the hard-liners chanted as they attacked him, referring to the supreme leader, the witnesses said.

As she headed for the university, a prominent women’s rights activist, Shadi Sadr, was beaten by militiamen, pushed into a car and driven away to an unknown location, taken away, Mousavi’s Web site http://www.mowjcamp.com and a women’s rights site http://www.meydaan.com said.

After the sermon, hundreds of opposition supporters were outside the gates, chanting slogans against Ahmadinejad.

Top Iran cleric criticizes hard-liners in sermon