Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was widely recognised as the spiritual father of Iran’s reform movement.
Initially the Iranian press played down news of his death. The official IRNA news agency issued a two line report without mentioning his title and state television announcers were equally terse.
But, as shops and businesses closed in his honour, the event could no longer be ignored.
One Tehran resident said: “He was a great man and had greatly supported our revolution.”
A woman who gave her name as Habibi said: “At least the regime should honour him on his death because of his many years of supporting the Imam Khomeini. No matter what his political orientations were he was a great role model and had greatly served the religion.”
Several top pro-opposition clerics have gathered at Montezeri’s Qom home to pay their respects according to a reformist news website which also reports an increased police presence in the area.