Two days after the Bahman 25 (February 14) protests, supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, were shown on national TV chanting slogans in Qom calling for the death of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. The moderate cleric is the chairman of Iran’s two major governing bodies, the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council.
The crowd in Qom called for the dismissal of Ayatollah Rafsanjani from his government posts and the prosecution and execution of the two opposition leaders, MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi who issued the rally call for Monday.
The attacks against Hashemi Rafsanjani have come despite firm condemnation of the February 14 protests by the Assembly of Experts.
The Assembly of Experts has accused the protests of falsely using the recent Arab uprisings to further “seditious” objectives.
The conservative members of the parliament as well as several other prominent figures of the Islamic Republic have called for the prosecution of Mousavi and Karroubi and some have called on Hashemi Rafsanjani to take the last chance to condemn the opposition and distance himself from their path.
Hashemi Rafsanjani supported the cause of the reformist candidates Mousavi and Karroubi who in the last presidential elections challenged the legitimacy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory following the 2009 elections. In a Tehran Friday Mass sermon, Hashemi called for a recount of the votes and release of political prisoners.
Following Hashemi’s controversial sermon, Iran’s Supreme Leader implicitly rebuked him for not condemning the post-election protests and implied that while he is a prominent member of the Islamic Republic elite, he failed a crucial test by lending his support to the protests.