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21 Dec 2009 19:474 Comments

Qom eyewitness account

Tehran Bureau | Dec. 21, 2009

Female, 30, sociologist:

"We started out from Tehran for Qom at 2:00 am. We arrived in the early dawn hours at Ayatollah Montazeri's house, which was open to the public, to pay our respects. His home was open to the public. Mourners waited in line to see his body, which was laid in a glass coffin. By 7 am, the entire street outside his house was packed. Many people had driven to Qom the night before out of fear of traffic on the Tehran-Qom highway and slept in their cars to be able to attend the funeral in the morning."

"Around 9:30 am, his hearse began moving toward the Shrine of Masoumeh. Interestingly, a row of iron railings the government had installed in the street as part of Montazeri's house arrest [famously known as hasr-e khanegi in Farsi] was pulled out by the crowd to make way for his hearse to pass through."

"At 10:00 the funeral began. The crowd was too large to fit into the Shrine courtyard and filled the surrounding streets instead; it numbered roughly 50,000-100,000 but not 'hundreds of thousands' as some reports claim."

"The crowd was mainly composed of religious types who are part of the opposition, including many women in chadors. Conservative residents of Qom and seminary students looked on but did not join the chanting protesters."

"Regular police were stationed in the streets outside the Shrine, but no Basij or anti-riot forces. No clashes took place while I was there until noon."

Personal account of Montazeri funeral

Blog Watch | Dec. 21, 2009

Today was extraordinary. People chanted whatever they wanted to, and were there in such huge numbers that no one dared touch them.

The important thing was that the radical slogans were cried by the sea of 'greens' among the townspeople of Qom. Word has it that Qom was stirred by this funeral; the people and merchants stared in wonder at the massive green crowd and the slogans. Montazeri's funeral was beautifully done. Everyone was there: from theologians to intellectuals to political figures.

Despite efforts by security forces to bar people from entering the city, it was apparent that many protesters had come from other cities. Students from Tehran University and other schools also made a strong showing.

The presence of such a massive crowd of protesters was unprecedented in this city. These were some of the movement's new slogans chanted today in Qom:

Death to the Oppressor, whether Shah or the Supreme Leader! مرگ بر ستمگر، چه شاه باشه چه رهبر

Montazeri's dying wish: the death of dictatorship! وصیت ِ منتظری، مرگ بر دیکتاتوری

Dictator of the Year, will meet his downfall this year! [a reference to Khamenei being named 'Dictator of the Year' by the University of Oslo in Norway] دیکتاتور ِ نمونه، امسال سرنگونه

Viva Khomenei, death to the dictator! [a reference to the Khomeini torn-photo fiasco] درود بر خمینی، مرگ بر دیکتاتور

Rape in prison -- condoned in the Quran? تجاوز توی ِ زندان، این اومده تو قرآن؟

The Mahdi will come himself, he doesn't need a deputy! [a reference to hardliners' claims that the Supreme Leader is the Mahdi (the Shia Messiah)'s deputy on earth]
امام ِ زمان خودش میاد، نایب ِ زوری نمی‌خواد

Death to the Taliban, whether in Kabul or Tehran [a jib at the radicalized right-wing] مرگ بر طالبان، چه قم باشه چه تهران

O icon of courage, congratulations on your freedom! [a reference to Montazeri's act of defiance in standing up to Khomenei, and the fact that he was put under house arrest for 20 years and in death has achieved 'freedom'] ای مظهر ِ شجاعت، آزادی‌ات مبارک!

Montazeri's mosque ceremony cancelled due to security presence

Rahe Sabz | Dec. 21, 2009

The commemoration ceremony of the dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, due to be held Monday evening at A'zam Mosque, has been cancelled.

Saeed Montazeri, son of the late ayatollah, announced that the ceremony was cancelled by his family after they learned that all roads to leading to the mosque have been closed by Basij paramilitaries and Revolutionary Guards.

Ahmad Montazeri: They forced the cancellation of the funeral

Radio Farda | Dec. 21, 2009

The son of the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, said that his father's memorial ceremony has been cancelled due to the presence of a large group of plain cloth officers.

"They invaded the mosque and prevented the ceremony from being held," he told radiofarda on Monday.

A memorial for Ayatollah Montazeri was to be held in the Grand Mosque of Qom after the evening prayer.

Ahmad Montazeri pointed to the confrontation that took place between the followers of his father, the Green Movement and plain cloth officers and said, "Some people were injured."

"Maybe we will not be holding any more ceremonies [from now on] so that people will not get injured."

"Police officers did try to prevent any conflict between the different parties but there were clashes and some people got hurt."

According to Ahmad Montazeri a large group of plain cloth individuals holding posters of Iran's leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei crashed the memorial ceremony, chanting "this large army is here out of love for the Leader" and forced the cancelation of the ceremony.

Earlier unconfirmed reports had suggested that thousands of people had gathered in the streets of Qom, around the Hazrat Masoumeh shrine, staging a protest that resulted in clashes with the police.

According to Ahmad Montazeri, Qom authorities cooperated with the Montazeri family in holding the late Grand Ayatollah's death and burial ceremonies and even participated in them.

Despite messages of condolences issued by different political figures including the Iranian Leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not issued any public or private message.

Sidelines of Ayatollah Montazeri's funeral

Rahe Sabz | Dec. 21, 2009

The focus of most of the slogans chanted was criticism directed at the performance of and the stance adopted by state broadcaster IRIB and other pro-government websites in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election.

A large portion of the mourners were from Isfahan and Najafabad.

Crowds had gathered in all streets leading to the Hazrat Masoumeh shrine, and those leading to the home of the late Grand Ayatollah.

More than 80 percent of the mourners who were said to be 500,000 to one million carried green symbols. Certain individuals threw shoes at mourners on two occasions.

The rooftops of all stores, motels and homes near the funerary venue was populated by mourners.

Police officers took away the cameras of civilians attempting to film the gathering but their own officers were filming the crowd.

Before Grand Ayatollah Shobeiri-Zanjani could perform the prayer of passing, a message by Iran's Leader Ayatollah Khamenei was read.

Reports suggested that shots had been fired into the air in the Hazrat Masoumeh courtyard.

After the ceremony was over plain clothes officers clashed with people trying to leave the shrine.

Young clerics filmed young women who were not sporting proper Islamic hijab.

Upon the return of mourners from the burial ceremony, certain individuals tore the banner erected to announce the death of Ayatollah Montazeri. This prompted people to chant the slogan, "Its clear now, its obvious who tore the poster" - a reference to the framing of the green movement for tearing up a poster of Imam Khomeini on 16 Azar.

Details of assault on Mousavi convoy

Kalameh | Dec. 21, 2009

A group of bikers waiting outside of Ayatollah Yousofali Sanei's home verbally assaulted Mir-Hossein Mousavi as he left the residence, and attacked his car.

The group followed the Mousavi convoy and on several occasions rode in front of it forcing the convoy to stop. One of the bikers broke the rear window of Mousavi's car, injuring one of his companions.

Mousavi sustained no injuries.

It should be noted that Mousavi's bodyguard injured the leader of the plain cloth gang of bikers while attempting to guard the opposition leader.

AE member: Govt proponents must try harder to return calm

Khabar Online | Dec. 21, 2009

The Tehran representative in the Assembly of Experts said pro-government forces should try harder than others to calm the country's atmosphere.

Hojjatoleslam Alavi told ISNA that everyone should pay heed to the fatherly advice of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who urged unity among the different strata of Iranian society. He called for an end to hurling insults, creating tension and spreading rumors.

He said that "views that only create tension do not benefit society," adding, "Even if there are individuals who are guilty and their crime must be dealt with, why shouldn't their case be settled by the judiciary?"

"Why should a media hype be created that gives raise to tension? If some of us think that a party has committed a crime, they should pursue the matter through the legal channels. We should refrain from expressing certain pointed opinions and making certain remarks to the media."

"In particular pro-government forces should refrain from such acts because in order to work the government needs a calm atmosphere...The government cannot work in a tension filled atmosphere."

ILNA told to ditch Green Movement coverage

Kalameh | Dec. 21, 2009

The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance warned Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) against covering news reports pertaining to the Green Movement to 'prevent sedition.'

According to Parleman news, ILNA's coverage on the Green Movement infuriated the Guidance Ministry, promoting it to warn the news agency.

The ministry advised ILNA against running stories about the greens to "prevent sedition and other such issues."

Andish-e No daily banned

TabnakTabnak | Dec. 21, 2009

The Andish-e No (New Thoughts) daily has been closed by the Media Supervisory committee.

According to Fars News Agency, the editor-in-chief of the daily Hojjatollah Hajjebi was informed by the Committee of the ban on the Reformist daily today.

The ban comes as according to ILNA, Iran's Panjareh (window) weekly and Tehran-e-Emrouz daily received notice from the media supervisory board for repeated violations of image use and a number of other matters.

Four more publications warned by Iran's press supervisory board

Rahe Sabz │Dec. 21, 2009

Four more publications have received warnings from the press supervisory board today 21 December, Rahesabz website reported.

Panjereh, Tehran-e Emruz, A'in and Bahar-e Zendegi received warning for "exploiting pictures" and other (alleged) violations of law.

Mohammad Ali Ramin, the head of the press supervisory board, said that the case of Andish-e No newspaper's violations has been forwarded to the judiciary for investigation.

Ayatollah Sanei barred from attending Montazeri burial

Rahe Sabz │Dec. 21, 2009

Security authorities prevented Grand Ayatollah Yousofali Sanei from entering the Hazarat Masoumeh shrine in Qom to attend the burial ceremony of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri.

According to khabaronline, the office of Grand Ayatollah Sanei has confirmed this report. This is while other sources of Emulation were not prevented from entering the shrine.

Khatami no-show at Montazeri funeral

Khabar Online│Dec. 21, 2009

Former Iranian president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami did not attend the funeral of Shia source of Emulation Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri.

A former aide to Khatami during his presidency, Mohammad Shariati-Dehqan attended the ceremony on behalf of the former president.

Opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi were present at the ceremony in Qom today.

Other Reformist figures that attended the funeral included Abdollah Nouri, Seyyed Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, Mohsen Armin, Seyyed Hadi Khamenei (the Supreme Leader's brother), Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi.

Ayatollah Makerm extends unconventional condolence

Khabar Online │Dec. 21, 2009

Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi issued an unconventional message of condolence over the death of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri.

"The deceased {Montazeri] had reached prominence in science and made great efforts before and after the revolution even though many of his stances especially toward the end of the Imam's life were found unacceptable."

The Grand Ayatollah offered his condolences to the Montazeri family.

Leader tells authorities to give Montazeri nice spot

Khabar Online │Dec. 21, 2009

A report said that Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has advised authorities to designate a suitable spot for the burial of Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri in the Hazrat Masoumeh shrine in Qom.

Iran to issue more secure ID cards

Tabnak │Dec. 21, 2009

Iran will be issuing new identification papers for its citizens.

The new ID papers will look like the current Iranian passports, and will be issued over the coming "Ten-Day Dawn" - the ten days leading up to the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Each page of the new passport-like ID papers will include certain information about the holder of the document. It will also include the national ID number and is said to entail more security capabilities.

Aytaollah Khamenei will be the first to receive the papers in an official ceremony on Dec. 24.

There are currently 100 million birth certificates registered with the Documents office.

Iran punishes 16 government offices with gas cut

Tabnak │Dec. 21, 2009

In line with an order issued by first Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, the National Iranian Gas Company cut the gas flow to 16 Government offices in Khorasan Razavi Province.

According to Mehr News Agency, the state order obliges all government offices to keep the room temperature between 18 to 21 degrees centigrade throughout the winter months.

Of the 722 offices inspected for compliance with the regulations, 51 were given written notices and 16 were punished by cutting their gas flow.

Lawmakers angered over girls karate team not wearing hijab abroad

HRA │Dec. 21, 2009

After pictures showing Iranian girls karate practitioners competing in Germany without hijab, lawmakers moved to condemn the incident as a catastrophe.

The girls team competed at the games in Munich on Nov. 8 and 9. Federation authorities initially rejected the report but remained silent after the pictures began to circulate the internet.

Lawmaker Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar said," female Iranian athletes going without hijab in foreign games is a tragedy for the country"

He added that physical education officials must be answerable for the incident, saying, "Observing Islamic values in foreign games is much more important than 1000 gold medals for the Iranian nation."

Rahbar noted the dissatisfaction of most clerics about sending women to sports competitions outside the country and said, "Even if Iranian girls have hijab it is not right to send them to karate or tae kwon do matches abroad."

"I don't know what the significance of a medal is that is causing Iranian officials to belittle themselves to win it."

Another Principlist lawmaker Seyyed Slaman Zaker also condemned the move saying, "female athletes going without hijab is a catastrophe and Majlis will summon sports authorities and investigate this matter with diligence."

"It is not befitting of an Islamic society to have its female athletes remove their hijab to win medals."

The people expect of [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad to crack down on incidents such as female athletes going without hijab, and to not allow a few to play with the values and beliefs of Iranian Muslims."

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.

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I love most of the slogans especially this one:

Death to Oppressor whether Shah or Supreme Leader.

Minoo / December 21, 2009 9:06 PM

noor beh ghabreh un padeshah bebareh.az roozi keh raft mamlekateh ma yeh roozeh khosh nadideh.mesleh besiari as hammihananeman doaieh khaireh ma ba ishan hast.ey khoda in akhoondha ra daghdideh bekon.

mansoureh / December 21, 2009 10:48 PM

Does anyone know where Montazeri is being buried? My family has a shrine there and I'm curious if they used our shrine to bury him there?

undisclosed / December 22, 2009 2:14 AM

Gross disrespect of the regime to not allow the people to mourn and attend the funeral in peace. My question to the support of the regime : Is this the way to that one govern a country that show no respect nor make any concert effort to address the most pressing issues of a beautiful country like Iran? What about the economy and the suffering of the poor Iranian living below the poverty line? You need to think and think hard! Why you still on the regime's side?

The Cat / December 27, 2009 10:46 AM