Reporting from Tehran — One of Iran’s most senior clerics, a staunch defender of the nation’s opposition movement as well as a pillar of the Islamic revolution 31 years ago, passed away overnight, supporters told The Times today.
Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri was 87.
Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, told the Iranian Labor News Agency that his father was suffering from an unspecified illness and passed away late Saturday at his home in Qum, the Iranian shrine and seminary city 60 miles south of Tehran.
His death comes as Iranian protesters prepare to take part in emotionally charged and symbolically loaded Muharram ceremonies marking the Seventh Century martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and a highly revered figure within Iran’s majority Shiite Muslim faith.
Burial arrangements have yet to be made, but the anticipated ceremonies around his death could further galvanize a protest movement driven as much, if not more, by raw emotion over perceived injustice as rational political calculation.
Already this morning, weeping clerics and seminary students crammed inside and outside Montazeri’s home in Qum to extend condolences and grieve, two clerics reached by telephone said. On the restive campus of Tehran University, nearly 50 students had gathered to mourn Montazeri upon learning of his death, a witness said.
“Ayatollah Montazeri will be remembered in the history of Iran as brave, open-minded and wil… >>>