Iran’s opposition on Sunday seized upon the death of one of the Islamic republic’s founding fathers — a revered ayatollah who was also a fierce critic of the nation’s leadership — to take to the streets in mourning.
Fearing that mourners could quickly turn into antigovernment protesters, Iranian authorities tightened security across the country. In Tehran, crowds held up pictures of the dead cleric and chanted, “This is the month of blood, the regime is coming down,” according to eyewitnesses and videos posted on YouTube.
But the death of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who passed away in his sleep, was only one of two surprises to shake Iran over the weekend.
Hours earlier, on Saturday, military prosecutors alleged that prison guards tortured to death at least three student protesters in July, contradicting months of denials by top leaders. The reversal is one of the biggest blows to Tehran’s credibility since government protests first erupted six months ago.
Either development, by itself, would provide a rallying point for the opposition, which claims last summer’s presidential election was a fraud and is demanding a political overhaul. Together, they represent the widening array of challenges facing the Iranian regime.
The murder allegations center on Tehran’s notorious Kahrizak prison, where three protesters died in July. A young doctor who claimed to have evidence of torture at the prison, Ramin Pourandar…