Iran replaces reformist cleric for Quds Day Friday sermon

A pro-opposition cleric has been replaced with a hard-liner to lead the prayer service on a key anti-Israel day, Iran's state radio reported on Wednesday. The announcement is a blow to Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful former president who sided with the opposition in Iran's post-election turmoil. Rafsanjani traditionally holds Friday sermon on Quds Day - an annual event with government-organized rallies in support of the Palestinians and against Israel. Some opposition activists have called for new anti-government protests on Quds Day. State radio said on Wednesday that Ahmad Khatami - a hardline cleric and supporter of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - will lead the prayers on September 18.