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Opposition Cleric Ayatollah Montazeri Laid to Rest as Hundreds of Thousands Attend Funeral

Report by Radio Zamaneh; photos by ISNA & Mehr News Agency

Ayatollah Montazeri, the prominent reformist Shiite cleric who passed away yesterday, was laid to rest this morning in Qom. His body was carried from his home amidst the multitude of his supporters who attended his funeral.

Ahmad Montazeri gave a speech and then called on the people to leave the grounds after the end of the ceremony.

Reportedly hundreds of thousands of people attended the ceremony, many of which had spent last night in the streets of Qom awaiting the ceremony.

Opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi had gone to Qom last night to pay their respects to the deceased cleric. The two disputing candidates of the elections had announced today a national day of mourning.

Mehdi Karoubi pays respect to Ayatollah Montazeri

Mir Hossein Mousavi (center)

Ayatollah Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami also sent representatives to attend the ceremony and several prominent figures mostly belonging to the reformist faction of Iran attended the ceremony.

Reportedly government forces repeatedly stopped buses that were carrying mourners to the ceremony from different cities of the country. By some accounts some people were even arrested .
Reformist websites also announced that some altercations between mourners and government forces took place following the ceremony.

Reports indicate that many people attended the ceremony with green symbols chanting anti- Ahmadinejad slogans.

Eyewitnesses have informed Zamaneh that pro-government elements were holding up placards against Ayatollah Montazeri to provoke mourners.

security forces are seen at the funeral

While pro-government forces chanted: "Anti-Revolutionaries; have shame! Leave Qom!" mourners responded: "Mercenaries get lost! What became of the oil money? It was given to the Basij!"

Basij is the organization of volunteers that have been mostly responsible for the crackdown on election protesters. While they are a volunteer force they enjoy wide range of benefits from government organizations for their services.

Pro-government crowds have been reportedly throwing objects at supporters of Ayatollah Montazeri around his residence and tearing condolence banners.

Ayatollah Montazeri's family will also attend a funeral service tonight at the Azam Mosque.

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