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Funeral of Mousavi's Father Held amid Disruption by Security Forces

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

01 Apr 2011 02:41Comments
MousaviFuneral.jpgFuneral draws large crowd, condolence messages from many leading figures.

[ dispatch ] The public funeral of Mir Esmail Mousavi, father of Mir Hossein Mousavi, was disrupted by security and intelligence forces. The funeral procession was supposed to begin at 8 a.m. Thursday morning, Tehran time, from the home of the elder Mousavi. According to several eyewitnesses, security agents took control of the neighborhood on Wednesday night and occupied the roofs of many houses in order to tape the procession and identify the people taking part in the funeral. Despite this, thousands of people streamed to the elder Mousavi's home to pay their last respects and read verses from the Qur'an in the Muslim tradition. Dr. Ghasemzadeh, son-in-law of Grand Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardabili, a Green Movement supporter who is close to the reformists, represented him and on his behalf paid his respects and conveyed his condolences to the family. Many of the political prisoners who are on furlough or have been released also attended the funeral.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, the body of the elder Mousavi was brought out of his home and carried by the people. They shouted the traditional Islamic "La elaha-ellallah, Muhammad rasoul-allah" -- There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is God's Prophet -- that is said for the dead while his body is borne. As soon as the crowd carrying the body entered the main street, hundreds of security forces and policemen attacked the mourners and forcibly put the body in an ambulance. As people protested, the police continued to attack. The mourners then began to shout "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein" -- Oh (Imam) Hossein (Shiism's Third Imam), Mir Hossein (Mousavi).

Mir Hassan Mousavi -- brother of Mir Hossein Mousavi and father of Seyyed Ali Mousavi, who was assassinated during the Day of Ashura demonstrations on December 27, 2009 -- protested loudly what the police were doing and was himself arrested. Reports indicate that he was released several hours later. Mousavi's son-in-law Javad Salimi -- three of whose brothers were killed in the Iran-Iraq War -- was also attacked by the security forces and arrested along with a number of other Mousavi family members. Some were released several hours later, but there is no information on the whereabouts of the several who remain in detention as of early Friday.

Also arrested was Hojatoleslam Nour Elahian, a prominent clerical member of Mousavi's 2009 presidential campaign. Dr. Ali Shakouri Rad, member of the central committee of the Islamic Iran Participation Front -- the leading reformist group, which has been outlawed by the regime -- was arrested as well and subsequently released. The presence of the security and intelligence forces was so heavy that several of the intelligence minister's deputies were on hand as were several officers from the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Revolutionary Guard special forces surrounded the entire neighborhood. At least seven people were arrested.

People eventually began moving toward Behesht-e Zahra, Tehran's main cemetery. A large number of people had gone directly to the cemetery and gathered where the dead is washed and shrouded according to Islamic tradition, but security forces were also there in large numbers. After the body was prepared for burial, the security forces prevented it from being taken to where people say a special prayer for the dead. As the crowd was growing larger by the minute, the security forces finally relented and allowed about 20 people to say the special prayer behind the shrouded body of the elder Mousavi. Many government officials from past administrations, academics, young people, and journalists were present. Many families of veterans of the war with Iraq, including many who lost their children in the conflict, were present as well.

Then, against tradition, the shrouded body was not given to the Mousavi family. Instead, it was taken directly to Section 9 of the cemetery and buried next to Seyyed Ali Mousavi. The entire time the section was surrounded by the security forces, who attacked several mourners. At least 20 people were arrested.

On Wednesday evening, Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, were taken to his father's home to see him for the last time and say farewell. According to Kalemeh, the website close to Mousavi, the house was full of security forces. From the moment he entered, Mousavi kept saying, "Patience, patience, and patience" to the members of his family. Even though the security forces were treating him roughly and impolitely, Mousavi asked his family members to be silent and continue their resistance. He then kissed his father's forehead, read the traditional Qur'anic verses for the dead, and said goodbye to him. He was not allowed to take part in the funeral of his father on Thursday.

Many political groups along with leading political figures and clerics have sent messages of condolence to Mir Hossein Mousavi, his family, and the Iranian nation. They include the Islamic Iran Participation Front; the Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin, another leading reformist group that has been outlawed; the youth divisions of all the important reformist groups; the Association of Teacher and Scholars of Qom's Seminaries, the clerical group that supports the Green Movement; the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, which has temporarily taken the lead role in the Green Movement; the League of Muslim Women of New Thinking; and a group of Azerbaijan activists and intellectuals, including representatives from Islamic Azad University of Tabriz, the University of Tabriz, the Sahand University of Technology of Tabriz, the University of Nabi Akram, the Youth and Reformist Students of Eastern Azerbaijan Province, and the local youth and university student branches of the Mousavi and Karroubi campaigns.

Individual messages of condolence have come from former President Mohammad Khatami; Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei and Grand Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, both of whom support the Green Movement; Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardabili; Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; and the families of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the late Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Taleghani, the late Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini Beheshti -- Iran's first postrevolutionary judiciary chief, who was assassinated in June 1981 and whose son, Dr. Alireza Hosseini Beheshti, was a leading figure in Mousavi's presidential campaign -- and Mehdi Karroubi.

In his condolence message, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Mohammad Dastgheib, the popular cleric and Green Movement supporter, writes in reference to Mir Hossein Mousavi, "I congratulate the late Mousavi because God gave him such a child." Addressing Mousavi directly, he continues, "Although you are currently under illegal and irreligious arrest, you are in fact free because your place is in people's hearts. I ask the ruling group to end your arrest and that of your wife, Mehdi Karroubi, and his wife. They should know that no fair mojtahed [religious scholar with the authority to interpret Islamic teachings] will sign this [arrest order]. If they believe that you and Karroubi have committed an offense, why do they not put the two of you on trial in a legitimate court presided over by a fair mojtahed so that you can defend yourselves and everybody can hear and see the origin of the accusations?"

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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