Iran's most prominent dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, died of a cardiac arrest yesterday aged 87. A major critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, supporters of the outspoken cleric have come out in mass for his funeral.
A close aid to Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Montazeri was proposed as his successor but in 1989 he fell out with the powers that be over the execution of thousands of government opponents. He became increasingly critical of the Iranian regime, and lived the rest of his life largely under house arrest. After Ahmadinejad's re-election in June this year, Montazeri said that the vote was fraudulent and that the government was losing legitimacy; a message gladly received by anti-government protestors.
Last night (Dec. 20), large numbers of people gathered in the central cities of Isfahan and Najafabab, and the capital, Tehran. Many supporters have made their way to the sacred Shiite city of Qom, 100 km from Tehran,where the cleric's funeral is taking place today.
According to our Observer Omid Habibinia, many of the gatherings have turned into anti-government demonstrations, and also attracted pro-government agitators. Foreign press is not allowed to attend.
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Posted at 3.51pm:
These two photos were posted here.
Posted at 3.02pm:
During the funeral protestors chanted slogans against Khamenei "Khamenei is a murderer, he's lost all authority".
Protestors booed Khaminei's ritual text, heard through loud speaker as Montazeri's body entered the mosque.
Posted at 2.35pm:
Gathering around the casket.
Riot police arrive outside Montazeri's home.
Posted at 12.08pm:
Today in Najafabab. Protestors shout "Free political prisoners!".
Last night, Mirhossein Mousavi paid a visit to Montazeri's home in Qom. Video posted on Facebook.
Posted at 11.21am:
Marching in the streets of Qom, for the funeral. Filmed around three hours ago.
Paying respects to the deceased in front of Montazeri’s house in Qom this morning.
A gathering yesterday in Najafabab, the central city where Montazeri was born.