Top Clerics Defy Ayatollah Over Iran Election
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2009 10:09 PM CDT
Mir Hossein Mousavi on June 8.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
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(Newser) – A potentially big development on the Iran elections tonight: The nation's most prominent clerical group demanded that the results be thrown out and called the new government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad illegitimate, the New York Times reports. The decision may yet collapse under state pressure, but it's a defiant rebuke of the nation's supreme leader and the clearest sign yet of a serious split in the country's leadership.

“This crack in the clerical establishment and the fact they are siding with the people and Mousavi in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic,” said a Stanford scholar. The group that issued the statement goes by the not-so-radical name of the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, but it wields much clout. Its move will make it difficult for Ahmadinejad's camp to continue to paint Mousavi and his followers as traitors.