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'Death to China' heard at Rafsanjani sermon. Why?

Protesters also targeted Russia. Both countries had quickly recognized President Ahmadinejad's reelection victory last month.

By Correspondent / July 17, 2009

The US received a tiny reprieve from playing the role of the "Great Satan" in Iran Friday when protesters directed their ire toward a few of America's global rivals instead.

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"Death to China!" and "Death to Russia!" chanted supporters of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi during a sermon by influential former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, according to news reports. Mr. Rafsanjani used the speech to criticize the government's crackdown on dissent following the contested June 12 election.

The Associated Press reports that the slogan broke out after hard-line supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yelled out the familiar "Death to America" chant during the speech. And Nico Pitney of The Huffington Post posted a YouTube video showing an outdoors rally in Tehran today, in which he says the protesters are chanting in Farsi "Russia, do us a favor and let go of our country!"

Both regimes recognized Ahmadinejad's reelection
But the US government shouldn't get too hopeful that it will be replaced as Public Enemy No. 1.

The enmity likely stems partly from Russia and China's early recognition of Mr. Ahmadinejad's government-certified victory in the disputed election. Mr. Mousavi maintains that the vote was fradulent, and his supporters are bitter toward the two regimes for backing Ahmadinejad.

China's treatment of Uighurs also a factor
The sentiment toward China also may be related to the Chinese government's forceful clamping down on violent ethnic riots between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang Province on July 5. China says that 46 Uighurs died in the violence, while Uighur exile groups maintain the number is much higher.

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