Thousands mass for Montazeri’s Funeral in Iran

Enduring America reports that the funeral procession for Grand Ayatollah Husain Ali Montazeri began at 9:30 am in Iran. The initial regime announcement of the senior cleric’s death omitted his titles. Once in line to succeed Imam Ruhollah Khomeini as Iran’s supreme leader, he broke with the regime in 1988 over massacres of dissidents, and was thereafter marginalized by the Tehran elite.

Al-Hayat transmits from a Persian site a report that senior pro-reform clergymen met in Montazeri’s home before the funeral procession. It adds that foreign journalists are not being allowed to cover the events.

Ayandeh, an opposition site connected to Mohsen Rezai (a failed presidential candidate in the recent election and former head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) says that despite reported regime determination to prevent the procession from turning into an anti-regime demonstration,tens of thousands of mourners lined the streets and gathered at a holy shrine in Qom.

Opposition leaders Mir Hosain Mousavi and Ali Karroubi called for Monday to be a national day of mourning according to the opposition web site Rah-e Sabz, and said that they would be at the funeral. Montazeri was an outspoken critic of the flawed presidential elections held in June and of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He dismissed the regime in its current form as mere dictators.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Abadi issued a statement praising Montazeri as “the father of human rights” in Iran. She said he was like a father to her in demonstrating how it was possible to stand up for political prisoners and dissidents.

Al-Hayat says that crowds of mourners at a mosque in Najafabad chanted in the name of liberty and pledged to follow Montazeri’s path.

The mourning period for Montazeri comes at a particularly difficult time for the regime. The month of Muharram is marked by public mourning ceremonies for the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Husayn b. Ali. The regime cannot therefore just clear the streets, and cannot prevent the religious mourning from being mixed in with politics.

Montazeri is more important as a symbol than a leader, and he may remain so in death. I’ve seen analysts suggesting that his passing is a blow to the reform movement, but that view seems to me unfounded. Even Mousavi and Karroubi do not seem much in control of the movement, which is a wide set of urban networks that more resembles a ‘flash mob’ than a disciplined party.

In any case, commemorating a martyr, which is how his supporters see Montazeri, is a far more important political repertoire in Iran than taking inspiration from a living elder statesman. For Montazeri to die on the threshold of the Ashura mourning processions is a real problem for the authorities.

Just as American rule in Iraq always became shakier in the Shiite south when people were stirred by the passion of Husayn during Muharram, so the theocratic regime in Tehran faces special difficulties in the face of massive, emotional crowds.

The regime will breathe a sigh of relief, since Montazeri helped craft the docrrine of the guardianship of the Jurisprudent, which the current government interprets as clerical dictatorship. But Montazeri maintains that that outcome was never Khomeini’s intent. It is sort of as though there was a living disciple of Jesus around who insisted that he never intended the pope to be infallible. Montazeri was a powerful living witness to an alternative form of Shiite government, one with a human face. The hardliners such as Khamenei and Ahmadinejad will be delighted to have that voice silenced.

Aljazeera English has video on Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s legacy and death:

A Journeyman pictures documentary on Grand Ayatollah Montazeri from 2006

Grand Ayaotollah Montazeri being interviewed in English:

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5 Responses

  1. So what will happen to his followers now? You can't follow an ayatollah after he died, right?

  2. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri responded by saying that:

    As I said, those who have lost, religiously and reasonably, the credibility for serving the public, are automatically dismissed, and the continuation of their work has no legitimacy. If they want to use force, or fool or cheat people in order to keep their power, people must express their opinion about the illegitimacy and lack of their approval of their performance, and seek their dismissal through the best and least harmful way. It is clear that this [dismissal of the officials] is a societal duty of everyone, and all the people, regardless of their social positions and according to their knowledge and capability, must participate in this endeavor, and cannot shirk their responsibility. The enlightened that have more knowledge about the religion and the laws, and are also more influential, have more responsibility [toward dismissal of the unqualified officials]. They must unify people and through formation of political parties and organizations, as well as public and private gatherings, inform the people and show them the way [to dismiss the officials]. In his will Imam Ali said [Nahjolbalaagheh, letter 47], "the governance and domination of the evil people [in a society] is the natural consequence of not preaching good deed and avoiding sin, because they [the evil people] abuse the opportunities.

    Grand Ayatollah Montazeri continued to issue strong statements in support of the opposition Green Movement. He warned the people to avoid radicalism and violence and said that, "The victory of the [democratic] movement is certain. Therefore, there is no need for chanting radical slogans [that provoke violence]."

    When pro-government hardliners tore and burned a poster of Ayatollah Khomeini, taped the event, and then broadcast it on national television in order to step up their attacks and pave the way to arrest the reformists, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, in one of his last statements before his death, said, "The late Ayatollah Imam Khomeini was a very important man. But, he was not ma'soom [sinless] and had erred many times. He himself never claimed to be ma'soom. Therefore, there is no need to make an issue of this [tearing and burning his poster]."

    Grand Ayatollah Montazeri defended the rights of religious minorities. He saved the lives of several people who had converted to Christianity, when he issued a fatwa saying that, "If someone leaves Islam as a result of his own investigation and research, there should not be any problem for him." He defended the rights of Iranian Baha'is, a religion not recognized by Islam. He said that although Islam does not recognize Bahaism, "our Bahari compatriots are entitled to full citizen rights, like any other Iranian."

    link to

  3. حكومت یزیدی!

    روز جزاست امروز

    Helicopters in the air controlling Tehran-Ghom highway. Sec forces setting up checkpoints

    link to

  4. 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'

  5. Monatzeri funeral
    Big opposition turn-out to say goodbye to dissident ayatollah

    [More videos will be posted here as they become available]

    The Guardian: Hundreds of thousand of mourners, many chanting anti-government slogans, reportedly gathered in the Iranian city of Qom for the funeral today of leading reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Defying a heavy presence of security forces the funeral became a rallying point for further protests against the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were reportedly among the mourners, after the opposition movement called for a national day of mourning. There were reports of clashes after mourners chanted slogans against Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. YouTube footage showed large crowds gathering and chants of pro-opposition slogans." >>>

    As Khamenei's message about Montazeri is read from loudspeakers, people boo and say "marg bar dictator," and "Khamenei ghaateleh, velaayatesh baateleh":

    Khamenie is a murderer, his leadership is null and void.

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