TEHRAN (Reuters) - A hardline editor seen as close to Iran's top authority accused former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Saturday of backing "law-breakers," highlighting deepening establishment divisions after a disputed election.
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of the Kayhan daily, also criticized Rafsanjani, a powerful cleric and rival of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for saying in a sermon on Friday that the Islamic Republic was in crisis.
In apparent defiance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rafsanjani said many Iranians had doubts about the official result of the June 12 vote. He also took issue with the way the authorities had handled the poll and its aftermath.
As he led Friday prayers at Tehran University for the first time since the election, tens of thousands of protesters used the event to stage a huge show of dissent.
Clashes erupted near the university between police and followers of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, who came second and still contests results that showed Ahmedinejad was re-elected by a wide margin.
The government has portrayed post-election mass protests last month as the work of local subversives, or "rioters," and Western powers seeking to topple the Islamic establishment.
"Most certainly Mr Rafsanjani is familiar with the definition of a crisis ... The most meaningful word to describe the current conditions is a conspiracy," Shariatmadari said in an editorial. He is seen as a close ally of Khamenei.
He said Rafsanjani, a moderate who backed Mousavi's election campaign, had done nothing to prevent the gathering of Mousavi supporters inside and outside Tehran University, where prayers are held each Friday and broadcast live on state radio....(more)