Thousands of Iranians chanted “down with the dictator” during the funeral procession for prominent religious figure and regime critic Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri in the city of Isfahan, signaling a rise of anti-government voices ahead of the upcoming June 14 presidential elections.
The mourners also chanted “shame on the dictator” and called for lifting house arrest on reformist and opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hussein Mousavi.
Ayatollah Taheri was the Friday prayers speaker in Isfahan, the second biggest city in Iran, until his resignation in 2002 when he shocked the country’s governing religious establishment by condemning the regime and protesting the country’s political and economic situation.
In his resignation letter, which was ignored by the conservatives-controlled official media, he said he could not remain silent on the “tangible realties...and the suffering of people.” He denounced “life-long powers; mafia-type gangs...that act under the name of religion and authoritarian fascists...walking up the ladder of religion and riding on the back of political camels.”
“The principle of republic means constant change of officials. Civil society means repeated and unabated critic and contesting of government plans and revolution means satisfying and guaranteeing people’s demands. Unfortunately, today’s realities are far different,” Ayatollah Taheri wrote in the opening of his letter.
“Until when indifference and ignoring people’s legitimate demands? Neither the Shah nor the Americans have any influence in this country, then why blaming them for shortcomings, failures and problems? Why not listening to positive critics and using real competences and brains,” Ayatollah Taheri continued.
During the 2009 elections, Ayatollah Taheri supported Mir Hussein Mousavi. When incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a second term, plunging the country in a bloody violence, Ayatollah Taheri again criticized Iranian authorities accusing them of having rigged the elections.
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