When Iran holds state-run ceremonies this week for an important Islamic feast day, there will be one very noticeable change: former President Hashemi Rafsanjani will not be leading the prayers.
The removal of Rafsanjani from the high-profile role is the latest slap by the ruling establishment against the single figure they may fear most — a powerful combination of elder statesman, super-wealthy tycoon and head of the only group empowered to remove Iran's supreme leader.
It's also a reflection of the Islamic leadership's deep worries about how to deal with a dissenter within the inner ranks.
"They cannot wipe him out, but they are trying to quarantine him," said Alireza Nourizadeh, chief researcher at the Center for Arab-Iranian Studies in London.>>>
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