Iran General NewsRafsanjani withdraws from Tehran Friday prayers

Rafsanjani withdraws from Tehran Friday prayers

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ImageAFP: Powerful Iranian cleric and opposition supporter Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has decided not to lead Friday prayers this week to avoid "political abuse" of the event, an official said on Monday.

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — Powerful Iranian cleric and opposition supporter Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has decided not to lead Friday prayers this week to avoid "political abuse" of the event, an official said on Monday.

"This week's Friday prayers were to be held by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani," said Reza Taghavi, the head of the coordinating body for Friday prayers, the Fars news agency reported.

"(But) we have been informed that he has decided to leave it to another prayer leader in order to prevent any political, unconventional and unacceptable abuse of the occasion."

Rafsanjani used his previous sermon in July to call for the release of detained election protesters and said Iran had been plunged into "crisis" since the disputed June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Rafsanjani, who suffered a humiliating defeat to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 election, is currently head of two powerful regime bodies but has warned that the election aftermath had broken people's trust.

Since the vote, the Friday prayers held at Tehran university have become a forum for highly political speeches, and occasionally the scene of opposition protests.

 

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