Iran's Khamenei to lead Friday prayers amid public anger
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will personally lead Friday prayers in Tehran this week, the Iranian ANA News Agency reported on Tuesday.
This will be the first time that the Supreme Leader gives the Friday sermon in eight years and marks mounting tensions in the Islamic Republic, following the downing of a Ukrainian airliner.
Last week, he led funeral prayers for General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq
The Tehran Friday prayer sermon is a political as well as a religious event and usually has a political theme.
The last time Khamenei personally delivered the Friday sermon was in January 2012, when he discussed events related to the Arab Spring and spoke in Arabic.
The Iranian Supreme Leader's decision to personally deliver the sermon comes at a time when the regime is under unprecedented political pressure.
Protesters in Tehran have called for Khamenei to resign after an Iranian missile accidentally shot down a Ukrainian plane over Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.
Khamenei has been Iran's Supreme Leader since 1989, when he succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on his death.
Iranian political analyst Arash Azizi said on Facebook that Khamenei's decision to lead the prayers was "an attempt to show defiance" as calls grew for his resignation.