The Iranian dissident cleric Hossein Ali Montazeri has lent his support to the election protests. The grand ayatollah says it is anti-Islamic to resist the demands of the people. He has also called for three days of national mourning in honour of those killed during the clashes.
"Resisting people's demand is religiously prohibited ... I am calling for three days of national mourning from Wednesday," said Montazeri, an architect of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution who fell out with the country's present leadership and has been under house arrest for some years, according to Reuters.
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri (born in 1922), was one of the leaders of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. He is best known as the one-time designated successor to the revolution's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini who fell out with Khomeini in 1989 over government policies that Montazeri claimed infringed on freedom and denied people's rights. Montazeri currently lives in the holy city of Qom, and remains politically influential in Iran, especially upon reformist politics. He is a senior Islamic scholar and a Grand Marja (religious authority) of Islam.
For almost three decades, Hossein Ali Montazeri has been one of the main critics of Islamic Republic's domestic and foreign policy. He has also been an active advocate of civil rights and women's rights in Iran. Montazeri is a prolific writer and has authored a number of books and articles. (source: wikipedia)
Ayatollah Montazeri's June 16 message (in Persian)
Read full text of the June 21st communique (in Persian)
By Professor Ali M Ansari, Head of Iranian Studies, University of St AndrewsOne of the more unusual aspects of the crisis is the visible absence of the clerical classes. Traditionally at the forefront of social protest, and frequently on both sides of any debate, in this confrontation their voices appear to have been muted. This in part reflects an inherent caution on the part of many of the senior clergy - an instinct towards political quietism - but it also reflects the social and political change that has occurred throughout the country over 30 years...
Neither Ayatollah Ali Khamenei nor Ahmadinejad are popular in Qom. The latter's unorthodox millenarian views are regarded with contempt by most senior clergy, while Khamenei has never been accepted as a scholar of note. The clerics may bide their time, but their intervention, which may come sooner rather than later - especially if violence spreads - could be decisive.
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