Iran opposition leaders to join mass rally despite warnings

TEHRAN — Three leading figures in Iran's opposition including a former president say they will join a pro-Palestinian mass rally on Friday amid warnings not to turn it into a protest against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Reformist former president Mohammad Khatami, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi who was runner-up to Ahmadinejad in June's disputed presidential election and another defeated reformist candidate, cleric Mehdi Karroubi, have all said they will attend the annual Quds Day march.

It will be the first mass gathering in the streets of Tehran since July 9 when thousands of demonstrators defied government warnings and staged a march to commemorate the anniversary of bloody student unrest in 1999.

In the weeks following the disputed June 12 poll, thousands of people took to the streets in protest at Ahmadinejad's re-election which the opposition charged was rigged, and some 4,000 were arrested in the ensuing crackdown.

"Palestine is the symbol of oppression... and we should honour this great day that is the eternal heritage of Imam Khomeini," the ILNA news agency quoted an unidentified official at Khatami's office as saying, referring to the founder of the Islamic republic.

"As in previous years, Mr. Khatami will take part in the Quds Day rally along with the people of Tehran."

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's successor, all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has already war... >>>

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