WATCH: Video from a citizen journalist of today's protests in Isfahan
Heavy clashes have been reported outside an Isfahan mosque where a memorial
ceremony was due to be held in honor of Grand Ayatollah
Hossein Ali Montazeri, a founding architect of the
Iranian Revolution and spiritual father of Iran's opposition Green Movement.
The clashes come two days after a funeral ceremony for the 87-year-old Montazeri, who died on December 19 in his home in Qom, turned into a huge antigovernment protest in the holy city located southwest of the capital.
Eyewitnesses tell RFE/RL that as mourners and opposition supporters arrived for today's memorial service, they found security forces and plainclothes agents awaiting them in front of the Isfahan mosque.
According to some reports, including on reformist websites, police used force and tear gas to disperse the crowd of Montazeri supporters.
"There was a huge crowd," said one witness who spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Farda on condition of anonymity. "There were clashes between the people and those who were ready to prevent [the memorial] from taking place."
WATCH: Video from a citizen journalist at today's clashes reportedly shows Basij
forces attacking a woman in Isfahan. (Another similar video can be seen here)
Opposition websites were reporting that many mourners were injured, and up to 50
arrested, but those claims could not be verified.
Iranian authorities have severely restricted journalists' access to events amid continuing postelection tension.
Iran's police chief warned today that "illegal" activities will be met with a "fierce" response from authorities, according to Fars news agency.
"We advise this movement to end their activities," Esmail Ahmadi Moqadam was quoted as saying. "Otherwise, those who violate the order will be fiercely confronted, based on the law."
The reformist website "Jaras" was reporting that security forces had surrounded the Isfahan home of leading reformist cleric Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, who was to lead today's memorial ceremony.
Montazeri was an architect of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution who went on to became one of the fiercest critics of the clerical establishment. He was once seen as potential successor of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as supreme leader. But after Ali Khamenei was chosen to take the post following Khomeini's death in 1989, Montazeri's outspoken views led to persecution.
In the late 1990s, Montazeri was placed under house arrest and, although it was lifted in recent years, he was still kept in check by the authorities.
Iranians hold portraits of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri
during his funeral in Qom on December 21.
Poster of Ayatollah Yusuf Sanei at Ayatollah Montazeri's funeral
After Montazeri, Sanei will most likely become the spiritual leader of the opposition
Montazeri's eldest son, Ahmad Montazeri, told RFE/RL he believes hard-liners
were threatened by the throngs of mourners who came out his father's funeral.
"Millions of people attended the December 21 funeral and it was magnificent, despite the poisonous campaign of the past 20 years against Ayatollah Montazeri," Ahmad Montazeri said. "When they [hard-liners] saw such support from the people -- 90 percent of them youth that came to Qom from places far and near -- they were shocked and they reacted [angrily]."
More protests are expected on December 27, which will mark the seventh day since Montazeri's death and will coincide with the major Shi'ite religious holiday of Ashura.
Authorities launched a brutal clampdown after the June election dispute that has included killings, mass arrests, and the alleged rape and torture of detainees.
But Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Musavi, the presidential runner-up whom supporters fear could be targeted with arrest, has pledged that reform-minded Iranians cannot be silenced by force.
Radio Farda broadcasters Mossadegh Katouzian and Roya Karimi contributed to this report
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