July 17: Fresh protests after a Friday prayer sermon delivered by the cleric and opposition supporter Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Death to the governmentAnalysis:
"Neda" is not dead, it's the government that's dead
"Sohrab" is not dead, it's the government that's dead
As hard-liners repeated their signature cries of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," riled-up Mousavi supporters overpowered them with chants of "Death to Russia" and "Death to China," the Islamic Republic's powerful United Nations Security Council protectors.
But Mousavi's backers came not so much to show support for Rafsanjani, who is widely viewed as a cynical power broker serving his own interests, but to voice opposition to Ahmadinejad and continue to register discontent over the election results they view as rigged.
Rafsanjani's long-awaited sermon neither cooled protesters' anger or appeared to alter the dynamics within the ruling establishment and Iranian society. But it gave explicit clerical backing for some of the key demands of the burgeoning political movement built on Mousavi's presidential campaign and the protests that followed.
Rafsanjani, a key force behind Mousavi, urged tolerance, dialogue and obedience to the law, but criticized the election results and the treatment of dissidents.
"All of us -- the establishment, the security forces, police, parliament and even protesters -- should move within the framework of law," Rafsanjani said. "We should open the doors to debates. We should not keep so many people in prison. We should free them to take care of their families."
He criticized the powerful Guardian Council for its review of the election results, and said all Iranians needed to "restore public confidence, because it was badly damaged."
He said healing will take time and that utilizing the blunt instruments of state to quiet dissent would only make matters worse.
"It is impossible to restore public confidence overnight, but we have to let everyone speak out," he said. "We should have logical and brotherly discussions and our people will make their judgments."
He demanded freedom of the press. Media-monitoring groups say dozens of Iranian journalists have been jailed in last weeks of unrest.
"We should let our media write within the framework of the law and we should not impose restrictions on them," he said. "We should let our media even criticize us. Our security forces, our police and other organs have to guarantee such a climate for criticism."
He also urged respect and sympathy for the families of those killed in the violence. "We should try to console them," he said.
- Tehran's streets erupt after a key cleric speaks