Popular dissident Hossein Ali Montazeri mourned in Iran
Los Angeles Times / Borzou Daragahi

Reporting from Tehran - Thousands of supporters of Iran's most senior dissident cleric marched through streets in his hometown and descended upon the country's main theological center Sunday to mourn his passing just days before the climax of a politically charged religious commemoration.

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a pillar of the Islamic Revolution three decades ago who became a staunch defender of the nation's current opposition movement, died late Saturday of complications from advanced age, diabetes and asthma, his doctor told state television. He was 87.

His death could further galvanize the protest movement that grew out of disputed presidential elections in June but that has been driven as much by raw emotion over perceived injustice as by rational political calculation.

Montazeri was an important figure in Iran's post-revolutionary period, a widely respected and creative Islamic jurist and political theorist. He had been slated to take over as the country's supreme leader before a falling-out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic, over killings of political prisoners in the late 1980s. Montazeri became a harsh and defiant critic of the revolution he helped create.

"Ayatollah Montazeri will be remembered in the history of Iran as brave, open-minded and willing to say the truth at any time, even when encountering danger," Fazel Maybodi, a mid-ranking reformist cleric and a well-know... >>>

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