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Satirist Alireza Rezai witnessed the July 17 Friday prayers led by ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, which attracted hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters in and outside the venue:

Some of my sightings today -- until 2 p.m.

* The Special Guards were told not to get into any sort of physical exchanges with the crowd before the speech, although they wanted to.

* The antiriot forces acted as if they were going to attack the crowd and when the crowd didn't scatter, they actually attacked a few. When the crowd continued to refuse to disperse, the forces packed up and left.

* The civil police arrived along with the infantry battalion, none of whom looked older than 12, and left when no one paid any attention to them.

* Before even Haj Mansur had started to speak up, people actually shut him up with their applause and slogans. He actually had to scream to get his voice heard by the nearby crowd.

* Haj Mansur asked the crowd to shout the slogan "Down with the USA!" but people replied to his call with slogans like "Down with Russia!" for almost half an hour.

* In the midst of those, [presidential candidate and former Revolutionary Guards commander) Mohsen Rezai arrived in a Xantia and was welcomed by the crowd for no particular reason. I think he was even embarrassed.

* People embarrassed him with slogans like "Hashemi, you are a traitor if you remain silent." The crowd applauded and kept filming the scene.

* It was as if everyone had four hands today: two of them to applaud, one to show the "V" sign, and the other to hold their mobile phones and record the scene.

* As soon as the first speech was over, there was a power outage on Enghelab Street so that speakers wouldn't carry the statements of Hashemi [Rafsanjani] to the ears of the enemy. Usually in the Friday Prayer speeches, it is ensured that the voice reaches the enemy's ear; but as the enemy was too near this time, they saw it fit for the statements not to reach them.

* The motorcycle forces joined the crowd from the west and started to "attend to" the crowd from the corner of Jamalzadeh Street. Still no one escaped.

* In order to disperse the crowd, they finally used tear gas -- whose canister landed on me, as usual. These days I feel like I have become a tear-gas-canister magnet. Anywhere I go, a canister comes along.

* I wasn't affected at all, and I saw the crowd remaining where they were. Someone kicked the canister toward the police forces and I saw that some of the Imam Zaman forces felt something. I know this tear gas feels like shit.

* Still everyone stuck together and sat on the road. Anyone who got up for no reason was pulled back down by the crowd.

* One of these idiots, wearing green, kept urging people to attack and [seek] martyrdom; I saw him by chance near the Karegar crossing a bit latter, beaten up by the crowd and shut up.

* The people cleverly encircled Enghelab Square with their cars, their radios turned on, and everyone could hear the voice of Hashemi [Rafsanjani]; the enemy heard his voice. Pity they couldn't cut off the power of the cars; the enemy benefited a lot from them.

* At this point I paid a biker 2,000 tomans along with a cigarette and we rode all they way from the south toward Jomhoori and then all the way to Kesahvarz Boulevard, and I realized that we are simply too many. Our smokes were out and we came back.

* No sooner were the speeches over than the ball was back into the antiriot forces' court. They began attacking the crowd and since no one left the spot, everyone got their share of getting beaten up. I witnessed that getting beaten up is more important than a day's meal for a political person.

* There were a lot of ambulances at the scene and even more fire trucks. I asked a police officer why there were fire trucks at the scene. He looked at me as if he was embarrassed by my question. I left before he could beat me up. I knew why they were there; I just wanted to get to know the police officer.

* The Haida Sandwich Enghelab branch ought to get a medal. They had 200 sandwiches and some 5,000 people had gathered there to eat them. They kept on telling it to close down and each time the reply came back, "Let me wrap up the last one." This situation continued for about two hours.

* Honestly, the ordinary police forces didn't have anything to do with the crowd. Most of them even had their bit of chit chat with the crowd, while the crowd got all they needed to know out of them. Our beautiful women's division played a crucial role in this information leakage.

* I'm quite tired right now; I'll get back later with another 20 points. If you don't like it, you might as well not read them.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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