Grand Ayatollah Montazeri has passed away
Published in weekly magazine “Spiegel” on December 20 2009
Source (German): http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,668143,00.html#ref=rss
He called the Iranian regime under president Ahmadinejad a dictatorship, and criticized the way the Islamic Republic developed: Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, who has died in Qom after a long illness. With him, one of the most senior religious authorities in Iran has passed away.
Tehran – Shia cleric and reformist Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has died in the holy city of Qom at the age of 87 from his illness. This was reported on Sunday by Iranian news agency IRNA. Montazeri was one of the first influential clerics in Iran to criticize the way authorities deal with demonstrators protesting against the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Montazeri was known for his critical attitude towards the spiritual leadership of the country, and the religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini had initially designated the Grand Ayatollah to succeed him. However, after Montazeri had continued to be increasingly critical about the development of the Islamic Republic, he fell from grace and was placed under house arrest until 2003.
After Khomeini’s death in June of 1979, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was president at that time, became the supreme religious leader of Iran. Khamenei until today holds the highest office in the Islamic Republic, and in the current struggle for power backs the disputed [president] Ahmadinejad.
Montazeri had repeatedly accused Ahmadinejad of dictatorial ruling. In August, he had last criticized the religious regime, explicitly calling it a dictatorship, saying the government’s actions against the street protests against Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election could lead to an overthrow of the system.
(Translator’s note: many German news outlets have picked up this particular news item of Reuters/AFP, I am not going to translate them all. What is worth mentioning is that even the popular yellow press newspaper “BILD” has published this in an unusually serious tone)