Iran's top cleric Montazeri dies at 87

Iran's senior dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, has died, official media reported on Sunday.

Iran's top cleric Montazeri dies at 87

Iran's senior dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, has died of a heart attack, official media reported on Sunday. He was 87.

Web site said supporters of Montazeri were flocking to the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom to attend his funeral on Monday.

Tagheer website reported that pro-opposition Iranians were gathering in squares of Tehran on Sunday to mourn his death, and that riot police were seen in different parts of Qom, where Montazeri lived and died.

Montazeri had been designated to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late founder of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, but the two had a falling out a few months before Khomeini died of cancer in 1989.

Iran's current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, succeeded Khomeini instead.

"Hossein Ali Montazeri passed away in his home last night," the official IRNA news agency said in a report that did not mention his title. He lived in the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Qom, south of Tehran.

"My grandfather died in his sleep last night. People and friends are coming to express their condolences but there are no special security measures around our house," Naser Montazeri told Reuters by phone from Qom, some 125 km (78 miles) south of Tehran.

Monday's burial will start at 9 a.m. (0530 GMT).

Parlemannews said Montazeri followers were travelling from other parts of Iran to Qom, a Shi'ite Muslim religious centre. "Thousands of people from Isfahan, Najafabad and other cities are going to Qom to attend Montazeri's funeral," it said.

Tagheer, the website of cleric Mehdi Karoubi, said Montazeri supporters were gathering in Tehran.

"The social network of the reform movement has called on its supporters to gather in Mohseni square to mourn ... based on reports people have already gathered in some other squares in Tehran," it said.

Video posted on the Internet showed hundreds of people gathering to mourn Montazeri at universities in Tehran and footage of a large gathering of people which the poster said was shot in the central city of Najafabad, Montazeri's birthplace.

In 1997, Montazeri was place under house arrest in Qom, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Tehran, after saying Khamenei wasn't qualified to rule.

Montazeri had repeatedly accused the country's ruling Islamic establishment of imposing "dictatorship" in the name of Islam.

He was also a vocal backer of the Iranian opposition which has rejected the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June.



Agencies
Last Mod: 20 Aralık 2009, 16:32
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