Iran: protests at funeral of reformist cleric
Thousands of Iranians gathered to chant "down with the dictator!" at the funeral procession for dissident cleric Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri in Isfahan June 4, signaling a renewal of opposition activism ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. Mourners called for lifting the continued house arrest orders on opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hussein Mousavi. Ayatollah Taheri was the Friday prayers speaker in Isfahan, Iran's second city, until his resignation in 2002 when he shocked the country’s governing religious establishment by condemning the regime and protesting the country’s political and economic situation.
In his resignation letter, ignored by Iran's official media, Ayatollah Taheri said he could not remain silent on the "tangible realties...and the suffering of people." He denounced "life-long powers; mafia-type gangs...that act under the name of religion, and authoritarian fascists...walking up the ladder of religion and riding on the back of political camels." The letter continued (stilted English from original translation): "Until when indifference and ignoring people’s legitimate demands? Neither the Shah nor the Americans have any influence in this country, then why blaming them for shortcomings, failures and problems? Why not listening to positive critics and using real competences and brains."
In the 2009 elections, Taheri supported Mir Hussein Mousavi. When incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed victory, unleashing protests and repression, Taheri again criticized the authorities, accusing them of having rigged the elections.
The protests at the funeral were also ignored by the official media, but reported on the opposition websites Sahamnews and Kaleme. (Daily Star, Lebanon, June 5; Al Arabiya, UAE, June 4)
See our recent feature, Whither Iran's Democratic Opposition?