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Iran Opposition Leader To Attend Friday Prayers

Mir Hossein Musavi
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi will attend Friday Prayers this week in his first official public appearance since last month's disputed presidential vote, a newspaper has said.

The "Etemad" daily said the prayers at Tehran University will be led by former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rival of reelected hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and one of the four Tehran Friday Prayer leaders.

Another former president and supporter of Musavi, reformist Mohammad Khatami, will also attend, the newspaper said.

"Musavi and Khatami will attend the prayers this week led by Rafsanjani. This will be their first public appearance in an official event after the [June 12] election," said the daily, citing Musavi's Facebook page. It also said Musavi had urged his supporters to attend the sermon.

The country's most powerful figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, upheld Ahmadinejad's landslide win in his Friday sermon one week after the vote. But Musavi has denounced the vote as rigged, saying the next government is "illegitimate."

The presidential election sparked days of street protests by supporters of Musavi and exposed deepening divisions within the Islamic republic's leadership.

Musavi has called on authorities to release hundreds of people, including leading reformists, journalists, activists, and lawyers.

Rafsanjani will lead the prayers after two months of absence. Some of his relatives, including his daughter Faezeh, were arrested briefly for taking part in pro-Musavi rallies.

State media say at least 20 people were killed as protesters clashed with riot police and members of the Basij militia. The authorities and Musavi blame each other for the bloodshed. Hard-liners have called for Musavi to be put on trial.

Iran has accused Britain and the United States, which have criticized a crackdown on opposition protests, of interfering in its internal affairs.

London and Washington reject the charge.

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