Montazeri Dead

The Associated Press: ML APNewsAlert AP is reporting that Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri of Iran is dead, according to his grandson.

Montazeri, 87, had been a close associate of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. He then became Khomeini’s hand-picked successor, but broke with him in 1988 over the massacres of political dissidents then being carried out by the regime. He immediately became a non-person, and was put under house arrest for a while but ultimately was released. He went on to construct the most extensive theological and juridical challenge to the revolutionary doctrine of Khomeinism, which turned the leading Shiite cleric into a sort of dictator or ‘Guardian.’ Montazeri became an Islamist democrat, putting more emphasis on popular sovereignty, without denying a role for learned clerics in guiding society.

Although Montazeri has often been lionized by critics of the regime abroad, he had little influence inside Iran. He did lend his voice in support of the Green Movement for greater democracy that began in June.

His attempt to reform the regime and its ideology so as to be more humane faltered in the face of the creeping coup conducted since the early zeroes by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its former officers who gained high political positions. Deeply committed to clerical dictatorship as the underpinning of their own control of a third of Iran’s economy, the IRGC elite relentlessly marginalized, exiled or murdered those with democratic tendencies in the system. Montazeri aspired to be the Gorbachev of the Khomeinist regime, but although he died in his own bed, he was more analogous to its Trotsky, a road not taken.

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4 Responses

  1. Montazeri will go down in history as a model of integrity, as an Islamic revolutionary who put religious values and justice above power and pragmatism.

    How different Iran would have been if Khomeini had passed a year earlier, in which case Montazeri would have become the Leader. The person who became the Leader instead, Khamenei, was one who had privately expressed shock at the killings in 1988 (see Montazeri's memoirs); but didn't have the moral fiber and courage to risk his position by taking a strong public stance.


  2. May God Bless Him and Give Him Peace. He spent decades doing his best to undo his horrible mistake of supporting khomeini. I feel,Montazeri, like many other iranians were duped by Khomeini's half truths and lies leading up to 1979. But I feel once he saw how monsterous the regime became he stood couragously, defiantly, against khomeini and spoke against the government till his last breath. The regime did everything they could , short of murdering him, to have him silenced. They offered him money , threatened him, publically humiliated him, sent their basij to beat him, and finally had him under house arrest. He was a good man that made a huge horrible mistake in helping to create this regime but spent decades doing his best to atone for it.

  3. Ayatollah Montazeri Died Last NIght
    A Man of Good Reputation Never Dies – Iranian poet Sa'di.

    As a successor to Ayatollah Khomeini to be the next Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Montazeri gave up all his privileges when he protested against the massacre of Iranian political prisoners in 1988 and asked for a review of the revolution's failures.

    Perhaps the most memorable quote remembered by Ayatallah Montazeri, who himself was one of the founders of the Islamic Republic, will be 'The Islamic Republic is neither a Republic nor Islamic'

  4. I recently met a distinguished member of the Shah's family, here in California, who shared a complimentary perspective on Montazeri as a very complex individual who had passionate convictions up to the end. Thanks for an insightful post!

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