Friday August 28 – the daily story

The main headlines:

Despite Ayatollah Khamenei’s apparent attempt  to calm Iran’s troubled waters on Wednesday,  President Ahmadinejad came out guns blazing today, using a pre-sermon speech at Tehran’s Friday prayers to demand the prosecution of reformist leaders.  He said those currently on trial were second-level dupes who should be treated with “Islamic mercy”. “There must be a serious confrontation with the leaders and key elements who organised and provoked (the riots) and carried out the enemy’s plan. They have to be dealt with seriously,” he said. link

— Ahmadinejad also for the first time acknowledged the controversy over the mistreatment of those arrested since the election and the attack on the dormitory at Tehran University. But he said the enemies of the Islamic Republic orchestrated the incidents. Iran’s security and military forces and intelligence services would never commit such “shameful” acts. link, link

— In his speech Ahmadinejad also accused David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, of telling another foreign diplomat: “The time is up for the Islamic Republic system and this time we have worked out everything”. link

— Hojatoleslam Kazem Sediqi, making his debut as one of Tehran’s rotating Friday prayers leaders, said that for the sake of unity the Majlis should approve the new cabinet as soon as possible. link

Various posts on Twitter suggest the state broadcaster did not televise the Friday prayers ceremony from Tehran live. Instead, channel 3 relayed the ceremony from Qom, where the sermon was reportedly highly critical of the regime. The unidentified stand-in Friday Imam, according to the unconfirmed Twitter posts, quoted a religious passage about unjust and sinful Islamic leaders who “surrounded themselves with thugs, killed the pure and deflect the blame.” He also reportedly said: “God, please help justice prevail and protect our young ones in their quest. … Defence of justice comes at a cost but it is worth battling for and is our duty.”

The ILNA news agency has reported that the Principlist bloc of MPs has decided to vote against the three women nominees for cabinet posts. The appointments have stirred much controversy, especially in clerical circles. link

Scorning the growing hardline clamour for his prosecution, former president Ayatollah Khatami promised a meeting of the Reform Front Coordinating Council that reformists would maintain an even stronger presence on the country’s political stage. He called on the new Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, to ensure observance on the constitution and citizens’ rights. link

In its trawl of blogs on Iran, the Radio Free Europe website claims to have come across this long account, supposedly by an Ahmadinejad supporter whose mother works at Behesht Zahra cemetery south of Tehran. It purports to detail the circumstances of the alleged secret burials of victims of the post-election crackdown. link

The US and Iran traded accusations over Tehran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency after the nuclear watchdog’s latest report said the Iranians were still defying demands by the UN Security Council to suspend enrichment-related activities and heavy water related projects. link, link

— The United Arab Emirates has seized a ship carrying North Korean arms to Iran in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, diplomats at the UN headquarters said. link

Jordan has put six people on trial for fomenting religious sectarianism in a case analysts say is prompted more by concerns about the growing influence of Iran and its allies in the kingdom than battling religious ideology. link

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