London- Reviving memories of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement, when hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office as the possibility for a second term arose, Tehran on Tuesday arranged for the funeral of the once known “veteran kingmaker”, ex-president of Iran and occupant of senior authority posts for over 37 years, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Rafsanjani, died at 82, had a funeral witnessing a high-end attendance— reformists protested to banning former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, as prints of Rafsanjani were hung next to Supreme Leader’s posters across the capital Tehran.
Iran’s reformists used Rafsanjani’s funeral to slam Russia, the Iranian establishment’s ally in Syria, and to call for the release of prominent reformist leaders in Iran.
The crowds also called for Mir Mohammad Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the leaders of the pro-democracy “Green Movement” to be released from house arrest.
Mohammad Khatami, who had become close to Rafsanjani after he became a reformist, was banned from attending the funeral.
Khamenei led funeral prayers at the Tehran University while confrontations broke out between supporters of the reformist movement and the police.
Khamenei blatantly ignored the prayer act reprise ‘Oh Allah, we only know good of him, and your knowledge of him is greater than ours’– the verse is customary in Shi’ite funeral prayers, however not obligatory. The missing verse became the subject of widespread controversy across social media and websites affiliated with Rafsanjani.
Some incoming reports pointed out that Khamenei repeated ‘’Oh Allah bequeath your forgiveness” three times at the service.
Iranian media outlets circulated updates of eight candidates surfacing for filling Rafsanjani’s role at the Assembly of Experts.
Current President Hassan Rouhani, Khamenei advisor Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri, private advisor to Khamenei Ali Akbar Velayati and national head of the judicial system Sadeq Larijani are among the names which might be replacing Rafsanjani.
Rafsanjani was one of leaders most trusted by Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s Islamic republic. In the 1980s Rafsanjani was considered one of the most ruthless executors of the newly-formed regime’s opponents.
He used his position as parliament speaker to build his own power base and by the late 1980s was responsible directing the country’s war effort in its eight-year war against Iraq.
Influenced by his daughter Faezeh Rafsanjani, a staunch reformist who was jailed in the late 2000, Rafsanjani had changed into a reformist in the early 2000’s and became an ardent backer of Iran’s Green Movement.
As a result of this political shift he was barred from putting his name forward for the presidential race in 2009 by his erstwhile ally Khamenei.