Iran: Basij attack Ayatollah Montazeri mourners in Qom
The funeral of Ayatollah Montazeri Dec. 21 saw hundreds of thousands of mourners take to the streets in Qom, despite harassment and attacks from the Basij militia. Some 2,000 government supporters also attacked Montazeri's commemoration ceremony at Azam Mosque. To avoid any harm coming to mourners, the family has cancelled the customary third day commemoration events. Afterwards, Basij forces in plainclothes swarmed Montazeri's residence, breaking windows and tearing his pictures and the black mourning banners that had been placed there. They also attacked the nearby home of Montazeri's son. Pro-government forces have pledged to mobilize a counter-demonstration against the mourners in Qom.
The office of another leading reformist cleric, Ayatollah Sanei, was also attacked that night, according to Sanei's website Norooznews.ir. Basij mobs also impeded Ayatollah Sanei from attending Montazeri's funeral. The attack on Sanei was probably connected with the fact that opposition leaders Mir Hosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi who arrived in Qom the day before to attend the ceremonies stayed at Ayatollah Sanei's residence.
Despite threats against mourners, Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani held a commemoration ceremony for Montazeri Dec. 22. Ayatollah Taheri in Esfahan also announced he will hold a commemoration service for Ayatollah Montazeri Dec. 23. (Payvand, AFP, Dec. 22)
Once considered Ayatollah's Khomeini's heir-apparent, Hossein Ali Montazeri fell from favor after protesting the use of torture under Khomeini, and has been a dissident ever since. He became more outspoken following the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006. He has recently protested Ahmadinejad's nuclear ambitions, and objected to the regime's persecution of Sufis. Ironically, his supporters have been persecuted in US-occupied Afghanistan.
See our last post on Iran.