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Iran's leading dissident cleric has died

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Iran's leading dissident cleric has died

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Thousands of opposition protestors are reported to be gathering in cities in Iran, following the death of one of the most prominent critics of the leadership in Tehran. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was 87. He was a leading figure in the 1979 Islamic revolution which overthrew the Shah, and was once expected to become its supreme leader.
 
But he became a fierce critic of the government in Tehran, frequently attacking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In June, he issued a fatwa condemning the government’s response to accusations of election fraud, and backed the opposition’s claims of ballot rigging.
 
Riot police have now reportedly been deployed in Tehran and in Qom, where Montazeri lived, amid speculation dissidents may stage demonstrations.
 
Over the years the Ayatollah regularly clashed with Iran’s rulers, accusing them of imposing a dictatorship in the name of Islam. He had been in line to succeed Ayatollah Khomeini, but the pair fell out over Iran’s human rights record.