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Reformist MP calls for rehabilitation of Ayatollah Montazeri

TEHRAN, Oct 3 (AFP) - A reformist Iranian legislator called Tuesday for the rehabilitation of the liberal cleric elected to succeed the founder of Iran's Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but who was forced to step down before ever taking up that mantle.

Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, 74, was elected in 1985 to succeed Khomeini but was forced by conservatives to resign only weeks before Khomeini's death in 1989. He has been in disgrace and under house arrest in the city of Qom since then.

In a speech to parliament on Tuesday, MP Mostafa Taheri Najaf-Abadi asked whether it is "just that this man (Montazeri), who fought next to the imam (Khomeini) for the creation and defense of the Islamic republic, should be constrained in his daily life, and theological schools deprived of his teaching."

Montazeri returned to the limelight in 1997, when he made a speech critical of Iran's current supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. That resulted in a tightening of constraints on his activities that were substantially eased a year ago.

Najaf-Abadi told parliament that, if Montazeri had been listened to in 1997, "perhaps the dramas we have experienced, such the murder of intellectuals in 1998, would not have occurred."

He called on the country's leadership to allow Montazeri to resume giving theological courses.


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