Iran cracks down on memorial services after clashes with Montazeri mourners
Guardian / Haroon Siddique, Robert Tait

The Iranian authorities have clamped down on memorial services for a dissident cleric amid growing political unrest in the country.

Pro-reform demonstrators mourning the death of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri clashed with security forces yesterday and were planning to hold more ceremonies on Sunday to honour the seventh day of his passing, one of Shia Islam's ritual mourning milestones.

But two opposition websites reported that authorities have banned all services except those in his birthplace and the holy city of Qom.

In another sign that Tehran is trying to stamp out dissent, a former Iranian government spokesman who joined the opposition movement was sentenced to six years in prison, the semi-official Fars news agency reported today.

Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, who backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the disputed presidential vote in June, was charged with fomenting unrest. He was found guilty of "acts against national security, propagating against the Islamic establishment and keeping classified documents", according to Fars.

The trial of Ramezanzadeh, who served until 2004 as spokesman under reformist President Mohammad Kh... >>>

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