More than 100,000 people took to the streets of Tehran on Friday of last week in the biggest show of defiance since a crackdown on mass protests against elections widely thought to be rigged.
The reformists flocked to Friday prayers in Tehran University to hear a sermon given by Hashemi Rafsanjani, a conservative who backs the opposition headed by Mir Hussein Mousavi. Rafsanjani raised the ire of hardliners who support president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by calling for the release of opposition supporters.
He warned that the survival of the regime was now at stake and that the government had to regain the loyalty of the people. Supporters of the reform movement chanted “death to the dictator” during Rafsanjani’s speech – a reference to supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
The size of the crowd shows that the opposition has yet to be bowed despite the heavy security force presence. Several protesters were seized as they travelled to the sermon, including Shadi Sadr, a women’s rights activist. Regime thugs attacked Ayatollah Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist cleric and former speaker of parliament, as he left the sermon.