Clashes reported in Tehran

Rafsanjani sides with reformists

Friday prayers as it unfolded: Rafsanjani’s sermon

Early reaction to sermon

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Clashes erupted in Tehran after the Friday prayers sermon by Ayatollah Rafsanjani.  Reports suggest a crowd possibly in the millions was matched by an extremely  heavy security presence. After a while the security forces began stopping people from approaching the university, where many rounds of tear gas had been used as the proceedings were getting underway. Some reports from around the university said that while the prayers were happening it was mostly peaceful, as much as anything because of the size of the crowd. But m atters appeared to turn uglier afterwards. Some reports said security forces fired  shots in the air and some posts on Twitter accused basij near the university of using knives to attack protesters. Video of the crowds around the university clearly show people sitting peacefully on the ground, then rising as big clouds of tear gas swirl in the background.

Reformist leader Mehdi Karroubi was jostled and cursed as he got out of his c ar to attend the prayers and his turban fell to the ground. His son Hossein was quoted as saying: “They cursed and used such obscene and frightful words, I was ashamed   to have witnessed such a scene in the Islamic Republic.”  Twitter posts later said there had been an attempt to grab Moussavi after the ceremony but he was safe.

Several posts said large crowds of protesters gathered outside Evin prison, the Interior Ministry and the state broadcaster. None of these reports could be independently verified.

Among the chants of the protesters reported on line were  ‘Death to the government that tricks poeple’ and ‘Liar, liar, where is your 63%?’, as well as ‘Death to Russia, death to China’, two key countries that have recognised Ahmadinehad’s victory. Also a new chant is being aired: ‘ “I will kill, I will die, I will get my vote back.’

It should be emphasised again that none of these accounts can fully be verified, although video evidence certainly attests to large crowds at the university and outside the interior ministry.

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