12/21/2009, 00.00
IRAN
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Crowd of opponents at the funeral of Montazeri, "the ayatollah of the revolts"

According to some websites there are hundreds of thousands of people heading to Qom to attend the funeral. But the police has hampered their arrival. Foreign press prohibited, limits to the local press. Montazeri, once one of the authors of the Islamic Republic and destined successor to Khomeini, became one of its harshest critics. He accused the leadership of Ahmadinejad of being dictatorial and slapped June's elections with a fatwa as a "fraud".

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The "green" opposition has been mobilizing supporters to attend the funeral of Hoseyin Grand Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, one of the most critical voices of the establishment.

According to some Internet sites hundreds of thousands of people are travelling to Qom to take part in the funeral of the great Ayatollah, once the chosen heir to Khomeini.

The funeral comes just as opposition to Ahmadinejad and his election surfaces again. The government fears that gatherings for the funeral will turn into open demonstrations against the leadership of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

Again according to Internet sites, in Qom, the holy city where the funeral will takes place; there is a large deployment of police who are trying to curb participation in possible every way. There are also reports of arrests. It is not possible to independently verify all of this information because the government has set new limits to foreign and local media.

The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has expressed his condolences for the death of Montazeri, but he also stressed that he hopes that "God forgive him".

The state news agency IRNA has defined Montazeri, the "religious of the revolts”.

Hoseyin Ali Montazeri died on 19 December at the age of 87. Although elderly and ill, in recent years has been a fierce opponent of the Iranian regime, even issuing a fatwa against the re-election of Ahmadinejad as fraud. In the past he was one of the architects of the Islamic Republic and paved way for the return of Ayatollah Khomeini in '79.

In the '80s, according to letters he parted from the leadership over the violence and mass executions against the enemies of the regime that he himself had helped to build. It is said that Montazeri was the one chosen by Khomeini to succeed him, but eventually Ali Khamenei was chosen. Since then he has become increasingly critical of the Iranian leadership, accusing it of having gradually betrayed its orgininal ideals.

In some recent interviews Montazeri has proposed a constitutional reform, is seeking a separation between the religious and the political and strengthening the power of the president against the interference of the ayatollahs. Yet he himself is one of the authors of the Iranian Constitution, and he himself had placed the rules under which the life of society - including politics - should be guided by religious experts (velayat-e faqih).

In one of his recent speeches, condemning the current regime as a dictatorship, he also said that the rioting after a rigged election "may lead to the fall of the regime."

 

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