The Telegraph
Saturday , January 18 , 2014
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Woman to lead Tehran prayers

Jan. 17: A former Iranian student revolutionary who played a prominent role in the 1979 American hostage crisis will make history as the first woman to speak at Friday prayers in Tehran.

Massoumeh Ebtekar, 53, was a spokeswoman for the mob that stormed the US Embassy in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution, a role dramatised in Argo, a movie that she denounced.

She will address up to 30,000 worshippers at the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. The decision has aroused controversy, with senior Iranian clerics said to be unhappy at a woman being allocated one of the coveted speaker slots during the service.

Since her student days, Ebtekar has reinvented herself as a reformist, becoming one of the most noted women in Iranian politics. She was the first woman to serve as Iran's Vice-President in the reformist government of President Khatami.

She has never disavowed her role in the revolution in which 52 Americans were held for more than a year, prompting the severing of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington.