The fact that ceremonies of the mourning period of Moharram are widely held in every point of every town and village in Iran makes it all the more difficult for the authorities to control them.
Mohsen Kadivar, a mid-ranking cleric and philosophy lecturer whose views landed him in prison a few years back, told Reuters that young people in secular Turkey were more interested in religion than those in Iran. Forcing it on society has the opposite effect," he said.
Once an election hopeful, he went through a metamorphosis, trimming his beard and wearing designer suits and latest fashion sunglasses.
Former higher education minister and reformist candidate Mostafa Moin appointed a woman -- former Majles deputy Elaheh Koolaei -- as his spokesperson.
But political analysts said the trend observed at Mohseni Square was in evidence, to a lesser extent, elsewhere.
"In general, religious events like Ashura have become a way for young people to interact freely in public," said one analyst who follows religious affairs closely.