Tens of thousands of government opponents packed Iran’s main Islamic prayer sermon Friday, chanting “freedom, freedom” and other slogans as their top clerical backer Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani delivered a sermon bluntly criticising the country’s leadership over the crackdown on election protests.
Outside, pro-government Basiji militiamen in front of a line of riot police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters who chanted “death to the dictator” and called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to resign.
Young protesters with green bandanas over their mouths and noses set a bonfire in the street and kicked away gas canisters, facing off with the security forces while others scattered.
The opposition aimed to turn the Friday prayers at Tehran University into a show of their continued strength despite heavy government suppression since the disputed June 12 presidential election.
Opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi, who claims to have won the election, sat in the front row of worshippers, attending for the first time since the turmoil began.