A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rafsanjani to Lead Tehran Friday Prayers

‘Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani will lead the Friday prayers in Tehran this Friday, (and see Juan Cole's commentary on it here). Cole offers a good summary of recent developments, including Mohsen Reza‘i's call for a compromise, and I agree that too much has been made of Ayatollah Montazeri's criticisms; Montazeri is under house arrest and has little influence in the senior clerical establishment today.

Rafsanjani's cautious silence has only been broken occasionally since the elections, and then with statements that could be seen as conciliatory or confrontational depending on one's reading of them. So Friday should be an interesting test: will he throw down a gauntlet to the hardliners (frankly, it's not usually his style), or will he call for some kind of compromise as Reza‘i has done? The visible divisions among the clerical class is damaging the system, and I suspect both sides would prefer a resolution that doesn't endanger the clerical system itself. But I won't be so bold as to predict what exactly Rafsanjani will say. He keeps his own counsel until he is ready to move.

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