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« Today on EA - Monday 21 December 2009 | Main | Latest Iran Video: Mourning Montazeri (21 December --- 2nd Set) »

The Latest From Iran (21 December): The Montazeri Funeral

MONTAZERI FUNERAL42140 GMT: Sharing a Laugh. At the end of an emotional day, it's good to relax with a bit of a laugh. So, over to you, pro-regime Kayhan newspaper: there were "a maximum of about 5000" in the crowd at the Montazeri ceremonies, as reformists "completely failed to create "a popular gathering".

Oh, you pranksters....

1925 GMT: Arrest of the Activists. Shiva Nazar Ahari and Kouhyar Goodarzi, arrested yesterday as they travelled to Qom, are still detained. Mahboubeh Abbas Gholizadeh was released earlier today.

A video of Gholizadeh's interview of Nazar Ahari, carried out just before her arrest, has been posted in two parts.

1910 GMT: We continue to add the best of today's videos as we come across them (Set 1 and Set 2). The latest discovery? A lengthy clip of Mehdi Karroubi at the ceremonies.

1850 GMT: Clashes and Occupation (2). Rah-e-Sabz publishes the story we have been hearing for a few hours: The car of Mir Hossein Mousavi was attacked, allegedly by plainclothes forces, as it returned to Tehran from Qom, breaking the rear windscreen. A passenger was injured; Mousavi was unhurt. One of the attackers also suffered minor injuries.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Mourning Montazeri (21 December — 2nd Set)
NEW Latest Iran Video: Mourning Montazeri (21 December — 1st Set)
NEW Iran & The Nuclear Talks: The View from Tehran
NEW Iran Video & Text: Montazeri’s Son Saeed On His Father’s Views, Last Words
Iran Document: Karroubi Responds to Threat of Arrest
Latest Iran Video: Montazeri’s Criticism of Supreme Leader Khamenei (1997; redistributed October 2009)
Latest Iran Video: Demonstrations in Memory of Montazeri (20 December)
Iran Special LiveBlog: Ayatollah Montazeri Has Died
The Latest from Iran (20 December): Montazeri Death; Regime Scrambles for Legitimacy

1830 GMT: Clashes and Occupation (1). Back from a short break to find that Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah, has said "several people" were injured in clashes with security forces. Some of those forces are still "occupying" the Imam Hassan Mosque where services took place this morning.

1630 GMT: And Now the Lighter Side of the News. Beyond the significant events surrounding the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, this revelation of the words of President Ahmadinejad's aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai in Copenhagen last week:

Iran is a creditor for the international community and the whole of the world is indebted to it. Because Iran is the most important of the founders of human society and urbanism. "We are a rich and resourceful country but our resources are not oil and gas, it is the Iranian culture. Today, because of a smart, witty and courageous son, Mr. Ahmadinejad, deceiving it [Iran] has become impossible.

Ahmadinejad is the manifestation of a well-informed, wise and passionate Iranian who has stood in front of international politics so that everyone understands that the path of Iran's development cannot be abandoned.

1600 GMT: We've started a second set of videos of today's events.

1555 GMT:Khordaad 88 has posted the video and English transcript of one of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's last interviews, which was with Radio Zamaaneh on the subject of his 1989 split with Ayatollah Khomeini.

1520 GMT: Mardomak is reporting that the Montazeri family has cancelled the funeral reception because of conditions similar to "martial law" around their home.

1515 GMT: Back after a break --- thanks to Tricia Sutherland for minding the EA shop.

1325 GMT: Activists report that demonstrations and vigils in Tehran tonight for 8-10 p.m. local time (1630-1830 GMT) at  Vanak Square, Vali-e Asr, 7 Tir, Mohseni, Azadi, and Enghelab.

1314 GMT: BBC Persian television is continuing to broadcast into Iran despite attempts by the regime to jam its signal.

1300 GMT: Among new videos from Qom and elsewhere in Tehran are chants  "We will fight, we will never die, we will not accept oppression", "Dictator, shame on you, leave your monarchy", and "Dictator, dictator, Montezari is alive".

1243 GMT: Online new service reports that Qom police protected mourners and demonstrators from basijis and plain-clothed security forces, who destroyed Montezari banners.

1125 GMT: A Pause. We're taking a break for a bit to catch our breath. Please keep sending in information of anything we have missed and check out our videos and analysis.

1110 GMT: Mediawatch. The top story on the BBC website's is "Clashes reported at funeral of Iranian dissident cleric". In contrast, CNN has not updated its article to mention today's funeral, let alone consider its significance.

1100 GMT: Among the chants on videos from Qom: "Those who cheated tore up the photos [of Ayatollah Khomeini]"; "Political prisoners must be freed".

1010 GMT: Andisheh-ye No (New Thought), one of five papers warned this weekend for not paying due attention to "large" pro-Government rallies on Friday has been banned from publishing.

1005 GMT: Iran Mediawatch. It looks like Mehr News has defied the Government command to ignore the crowds for Montazeri. It has photos of the gathering and of prominent figures paying condolences. It may be a sign of demand for confirmation of events or, alternatively, Internet restrictions in Iran that Mehr's website appears to be overloaded.

0940 GMT: Images of Mourning. Photos have been posted of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi paying their respects inside the Montazeri house. We have also posted the first videos of mass demonstrations in Qom and Najafabad.

0910 GMT: Press TV just posted a short report on the funeral of "leading clerical figure Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri". It mentions the Supreme Leader's condolences, omitting the criticisms of Montazeri.

There is no mention, however, of the crowds in Qom.

0905 GMT: The View from the Other Site --- Montazeri & "Terrorists". One of the few remarks from an Iran-based commentator in non-Iranian media is in Al Jazeera English's coverage. It comes from Tehran University academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi:
[Montazeri said] the same thing for around 25 years....After his inner circle was discovered to be linked to Mujahidin terrorists based in Iraq, he was isolated by the reformists....He is not a major player and has always been very critical.

0855 GMT: Iranian Mediawatch. Press TV's website has nothing on the funeral (now see 910 GMT). The Iranian Labor News Agency's English site has a short item that "thousands of mourners converged" on Qom and that Mir Hossein Mousavi attended. ILNA also uses the title "Ayatollah" for Montazeri, who was "one of the leaders of the 1979 Iranian Revolution along with the founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini".

ILNA also emphasises, via the word of Montazeri's doctor, that the cleric died of natural causes.

0850 GMT: New Entries. We have posted the video and translation of an interview given by Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's son Saeed yesterday on his father's last words and views: "I think one of the main reasons [for his death] was his grief for the post-election events which troubled my father a lot."

And, on another front, we have posted a view from Tehran of the current Iranian position in the nuclear talks with the "West" and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

0840 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's Kalemeh, in a long report on the funeral, confirms that both Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were in the procession.

0810 GMT: Montazeri's son has asked the crowd to quiet their chants, but the protests continue.

0805 GMT: Mediawatch. The Montazeri ceremonies/protests are now the lead item on the BBC, with Jon Leyne providing an excellent summary both of today's gathering and of attempted Government restrictions. Leyne says that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were in the funeral procession, a claim that we have been unable to confirm.

0735 GMT: With security forces apparently trying to move people from the Shrine, crowds are moving about Qom, with many reportedly headed toward Montazeri's house.

0730 GMT: The doors of the Masoumeh Shrine have been closed because of the size of the crowd.

0720 GMT: Numerous reports of the crowd's mourning turning into a protest with chants against the Government and even the Supreme Leader.

0657 GMT: It appears the ceremony proceeded more quickly than we first reported (0615 GMT). Reports now that Montazeri has been buried in the Massoumeh Shrine.

0650 GMT: The article in Time from Robin Wright, one of the best US-based journalists on Iran, is to the point: "Iran's Opposition Loses a Mentor But Gains a Martyr".

0643 GMT: Josh Shahryar has posted a tribute, "Good Bye Montazeri, You Will Be Missed": "The struggle for freedom, human rights and justice will continue. If we’ve learned anything in the past six months it is that the Iranian people’s desire for change will not die with the death of an individual – no matter how important that individual may be."

0640 GMT: Ayatollah Shobeiri-Zanjani is now leading prayers.

0630 GMT: A LiveBlog from Qom is claiming "hundreds of thousands" are now in the streets. Reported chant: "Montazeri is not dead; the Government is dead."

0615 GMT (0945 Tehran & Qom): The mourning ceremonies for Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri began about 30 minutes ago in Qom, with his body being taken from his house to the Imam Hassan mosque. In about 45 minutes, the procession will move from the mosque to the Masoumeh Shrine. There are reports, despite Government efforts to limit or prevent attendance, tens of thousands have lined the route.

As well as the reported orders from the regime to Iranian newspapers to prohibit his photograph on front pages, to ignore Montazeri's political significance and emphasise the 1989 incident that led to his dismissal as Ayatollah Khomeini's successor, the Government is jamming BBC Persian.

Reader Comments (18)

Ayatolla's death may sound the end of the IRI. This is a rare opportunity, if millions continue on the streets anything may happen. I wish there were more serious structure in place. Still the potential is enormous. Freedom is on its way. The slogans on the streets in all cities but especially in Tehran (Mohseni sq), Sharif-Abad, Isfahan, and maybe cities up north are uniformly against Khameneie. It is amazing.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHossein

Dear Hossein
Good luck to all of us; this religious man knew when he had to die ! I wish his help from the next world !

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

Marandi... *sigh* I have stopped being amazed by childish statements.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosh Shahryar

Scott, thank you for your efforts on this -- this is really great coverage, and a great example of what modern web journalism should be about for this kind of situation, i.e. thougthful, real time manual aggregation and context. Thanks -- Great great work.

p.s. thsi appears to be a good , on the ground Twitter at the moment, at

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMSD

Scott -

As you know, Marandi was the favored guy to put on American TV after the election to give the "regime" point of view. He certainly does that, although he does come off like an academic allied with the regime, rather than a politician or activist.

One thing I never understood with Marandi is that he claimed repeatedly on TV that he did not vote for Ahmadinejad. Have you ever heard that, and if so, any thoughts? Doesn't seem to make any sense given the points of view he always espouses and the ways he always dismisses fraud in the election.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Scott


Many thanks for your kind words. All credit should go to sources, including the on-the-ground activists, and EA readers for providing the best information and ideas.


December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas


I couldn't presume to speak for Dr Marandi, but I think it would be possible to vote for another candidate in the election --- and indeed to criticise Ahmadinejad, which Marandi has done in interviews --- and to defend current Iranian system. I think that is particularly true if you read the cause of conflict as the response of Mousavi and his camp to the electoral result (the framing is used that Mousavi "called his people onto the streets" with his press conference on 12 June) and the product of "foreign intervention".


December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

Marandi's statement was in August :
"But Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a political analyst at the University of Tehran, told Al Jazeera in August that Montazeri said "the same thing for around 25 years".
I am sure he has changed his opinion now !! because the direction of wind has changed; and what's more, all the article is about praising Ayatollah Montazeri, two sentences from Marandi in the end are not really important ! :-)

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

Marandi is the Government's favorite liar. Whether he actually voted for Ahmadinejad or not is irrelevant because he knows the election was fraudulent anyway. It is smart for him to deny it anyway because it makes him look less partisan/interested in Ahmadinejad.
He is the regime's most high-profile propagandist. He is the only Iranian that the Iranian government allows to speak to CNN for example. To pretend that he's just an "academic" is mindless and dishonest.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Marandi is a liar and is a government propagandist. His father was a minister of health and is a member of parliament. They are the worse kind because they are educated and should recognise the truth but are on supporting the evil and the dark forces.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHossein

Shame Kahyan missed off the other 2 zeros in their article.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoe Lassie

Rooftop video of the crowd in Qom. I have no idea how to estimate the size of a crowd, but it was definitely a HUGE crowd:

December 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlee


I noticed that vid from onlymehdi and I was blown away. Its just fantastic, the movements and the voices, truly amazing.

December 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpessimist

Ramin & Lee
Thanks you !

December 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris


As your aware money can corrupt. I wonder how big their bank accounts are?


December 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill

[...] America has had some great coverage, including videos of university demonstrations, live-blogs (1, 2), and a thoughtful situation analysis titled From protest to victory?. There’s also a good [...]

[...] Enduring America reports that the funeral procession for Grand Ayatollah Husain Ali Montazeri began at 9:30 am in Iran. The initial regime announcement of the senior cleric’s death omitted his titles. Once in line to succeed Imam Ruhollah Khomeini as Iran’s supreme leader, he broke with the regime in 1988 over massacres of dissidents, and was thereafter marginalized by the Tehran elite. [...]

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