BEIRUT, Lebanon — A confirmation ceremony Monday meant to showcase the unity of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s leadership instead highlighted its divisions, sparking clashes in the streets between demonstrators and security forces that stretched into the night.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, endorsed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term seven weeks after a disputed re-election that continues to roil the nation.
Dozens of officials, dignitaries and clergy did not attend the ceremony, including Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered one of the most powerful people in the country.
It was not immediately clear whether the absentees boycotted the event or were not invited. The ceremony was the religious portion of Ahmadinejad’s swearing-in. He will take the oath of office again on Wednesday before the Iranian parliament.
Hours later, fighting erupted in several Tehran districts between security forces and supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi chanting, “Death to the dictator.”
Drivers stopped their cars in the middle of highways and in central squares, leaning on their horns in gestures of protest.
As the clock struck 10 p.m., residents climbed to their rooftops or stuck their heads out of windows and roared, “God is great!” in what has become a nightly expression of opposition to Ahmadinejad’s controversial election.