Iranian Cleric's Funeral Stirs Opposition Protests
Anti-gov't protesters salute dissident Montazeri
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 21, 2009 7:19 AM CST
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, left, attends the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the spiritual father of Iran's reform movement.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Iran's opposition movement rumbled again today as tens of thousands of mourners joined the funeral procession for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the senior dissident cleric who had denounced government crackdowns as the work of power-hungry despots. Tehran barred foreign media from the ceremonies for Montazeri, who died yesterday at age 87, but witnesses said many mourners shouted protest cries including "Death to the Dictator."

There were no immediate reports of serious clashes, though some opposition websites noted scuffles and violence. Internet access and cellphone service were unreliable; Tehran has periodically restricted communications to prevent protesters from organizing. Montazeri's death pushed Iranian authorities into a difficult spot—they were obliged to pay respects to one of the patriarchs of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but worried that his death and memorials could become new opposition rallying points.