In Iran, tensions build ahead of Rafsanjani’s Friday sermon

A self-described “party girl,” 28-year-old Ameneh Saeedi has spent the last few days brushing up on her prayers, which she hasn’t performed since she was forced to in high school.This morning, Saeedi, a secretary, will skip her daily makeup routine and don an all-covering black hijab to attend a potentially momentous sermon by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one that could herald a new stage in the political drama that has followed the disputed June 12 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.Saeedi is among the thousands of Ahmadinejad opponents expected to show up at the Tehran University prayer service to be led by the powerful cleric. Reformist leaders, including presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and former President Mohammad Khatami, have vowed to attend.Rafsanjani’s long-awaited sermon could pour water on the ongoing fire of protests or add more fuel to the dispute within the ruling establishment and Iranian society over the election results, which the powerful Guardian Council confirmed again Thursday in a 39-page document posted to its website.  Saeedi joked that she voted for Mousavi at the behest of friends. “One vote cost me a lot. I became a practicing Muslim again,” she said. Frictions between Ahmadinejad and his rivals, who say they lost because of vote fraud, continued Thursday. The president, visiting to the northeastern city of Mashhad, angrily blamed the West for the recent days of unrest in wh… >>>

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