Rafsanjani says Iran in crisis after election

Iran's former President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

In apparent defiance of Iran’s supreme leader, a powerful cleric declared his country in crisis after a disputed poll, and tens of thousands of protesters used Friday prayers to stage the biggest show of dissent for weeks.

“We are all members of a family. I hope with this sermon we can pass through this period of hardships that can be called a crisis,” said former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, leading weekly prayers for the first time since the June 12 vote.

No senior establishment figure has previously described the post-election turmoil as a crisis for the Islamic Republic.

Rafsanjani’s remarks posed a clear challenge to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has upheld the result and accused foreign powers of fomenting unrest.

Outside Tehran University, the longstanding venue for Friday prayers, police used tear gas and batons to try to disperse supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. At least 15 people were arrested, a witness said.

Mousavi, a former prime minister, attended the ceremony in his first official public appearance since the vote, which he says was rigged.

Rafsanjani, who backed Mousavi’s election campaign, said many Iranians had doubts about the official results.

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