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Friday prayers: Differing views

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Amateur video appearing to show demonstrations after Friday prayers

Two young Iranians who attended Friday prayers at Tehran University give their reaction to Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's sermon, in which he said many right-minded Iranians doubted the official election results which returned President Ahmadinejad to power.

Parveneh, 31, post graduate student, Tehran, via email

Parvaneh voted for presidential opposition candidate Mr Mousavi.

I was at Tehran university at 9am. The Basiji [militia] were making people nervous. We were in front of the university's west gate in 16 Azar street when suddenly our cell phones stopped working.

Men on the gate told us we couldn't enter because we didn't have an invitation.

We hid pieces of green cloth in our bras and tied them round our wrists during the sermon!

We looked at the invitations the other women had who were being allowed in.

They all had special Basiji cards with a picture of a candle on it. I started protesting and a big fat man came and threatened me.

I said "I am an Iranian civilian, who are you?" He said "I am in charge of this area! If you don't shut up I will arrest you!"

In the end, we went in from the northern gate.

The first 30 rows were reserved for Basiji. This was for the cameras; all the Basiji women in the first 30 rows were holding pictures of Ayatollah Khamenei.

They searched us at the gate and took away all green clothing. But we had hidden small pieces of green cloth in our bras!

We took these out during the sermon and tied them to our wrists.

The speech was very good: fearless and brave. Especially when you think of the speeches Mr Rafsanjani usually gives in similar situations. People were shouting "Hashemi, Hashemi we support you!".

Afterwards we went into 16 Azar Street. A lot of people were shouting "Down with the dictator, free political prisoners".

They threw tear gas and pepper gas and everybody was choking and suffocating. There were even lots of children among us, crying.

People lit cigarettes so the smoke would absorb the gas. I was running when suddenly an elderly man in plain clothes ran towards me and tackled my leg, like in football.

I slipped on the street, my shoes went to the east and I went to the west, as my chador was flying!

Some women helped me up, and some men said "Don't worry, we hit him and he ran off".

I have to see my doctor now, the after-effects of the gases are killing me. I feel dizzy, I have a headache and my chest aches, so I can't think properly.

Mostafa, 28, administrator, Tehran, via phone

Mostafa voted for President Ahmadinejad in the elections.

I arrived at Tehran university at about midday and stayed for an hour. I couldn't get inside the building because of the crowds.

When Mr Khatami was president they were killing and arresting lots of students, and Mr Rafsanjani didn't complain then

I left early because Mr Mousavi's supporters were chanting "Down with Iran's allies" and I felt there might be trouble.

When I got home, I read what Mr Rafsanjani said online, because there was no radio or television coverage of the prayers. So far local media have shown only two minutes of the prayers.

Of course I was surprised to hear Mr Rafsanjani - one of the main people of the revolution - speaking like that.

I was surprised by his suggestions for releasing the protesters.

When Mr Khatami was president they were killing and arresting lots of students, and Mr Rafsanjani didn't complain then. But I suppose he's complaining now as part of his support of Mr Mousavi.

My own cousin was shot and injured in the protests. Of course prisoners who were mistakenly arrested should be released.

But there are also some other people abusing this situation - people who are organised by foreign countries, Britain and the US.

Many people think Mr Rafsanjani is financially corrupt. Several years ago, before Mr Ahmadinejad was elected president I did too. But I was scared of expressing this.

Then Ahmadinejad came and gave power to people, I believe it was real democracy when he got in. I hope this will continue.

I hope Mr Rafsanjani changes his attitudes to people. Ahmadinejad supports ordinary people: old, rich, any class of people in Iran.

Rafsanjani supports high class people. I'd like him to support ordinary people, like Ahmadinejad does.

And I don't like the way he is head of two councils at the same time, he should give one of those jobs up.



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