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Pro-Regime Friday Rallies Planned In Iranian Cities, Except In Tehran

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a Friday prayer sermon at Tehran University on June 19, 2009 and threatened protesters, signalling widespread persecutions. FILE PHOTO

The Islamic Propaganda Coordination Organization (IPCO) on Thursday announced that planned pro-regime demonstrations will be held after Friday Prayers nationwide with the exemption of the capital Tehran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will lead the prayers in Tehran and deliver a sermon.

Exempting Tehran from "nationwide" rallies is unprecedented when Khamenei will be leading the Friday prayers for the first time in eight years. He led the funeral prayer for General Qassem Soleimani in Tehran on January 8 as massive crowds marched in the streets of the capital. He did not make a speech on that occasion.

Khamenei may address several issues in his Friday sermon including Soleimani's killing, the missile attack on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces, the Revolutionary Guard's downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane and possibly recent protests throughout the country in which protesters chanted slogans against him and held him responsible for the plane crash tragedy.

Thousands of angry Iranians have been protesting in various cities, particularly in universities, since January 11 when under international pressure the Revolutionary Guard accepted the responsibility for downing the Ukrainian plane.

Since Wednesday security forces and riot police have taken over the streets of Tehran to prevent the continuation of student protests.

In its statement on Wednesday IPCO which is responsible for arranging and advertising state-sponsored rallies had announced that nationwide demonstrations would be held on Friday and invited all Iranians to support the regime with their "exemplary and epic presence".

The statement said the rallies would be held to support the Revolutionary Guard and its "brave act of destroying the shaky grandeur of the murderous America", against the "leaders of the United States and their regional mercenaries" and to condemn the "brazen affronts" of last week's protesters and the "flagrance of the British envoy" in Tehran.