Iranian protesters galvanized by sermon

Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim in the Los Angeles Times:

Iran A sermon by powerful cleric and opposition supporter Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani reignited Iran's simmering protest movement Friday, heartening thousands of supporters who braved tear gas and club-wielding militiamen to march and chant slogans across Tehran.

In a highly anticipated speech, Rafsanjani slammed the hard-line camp supporting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, criticized the June 12 election results and promoted several key opposition demands. Analysts said his description of the unrest as an ongoing “crisis” was a signal to keep the pressure on Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

His speech, as well as the ensuing pitched clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition figure Mir-Hossein Mousavi, suggested that the political firestorm surrounding the marred vote would continue and that the movement it had inspired remained strong.

Reformist websites estimated that more than 1 million people participated. That number could not be confirmed, though even supporters of the hard-line camp who attended the prayer session to show support for Khamenei acknowledged that the crowds were huge.

More here.