Protesters and Iranian Security Forces Converge in Leader’s Hometown

By Ali Reza Jahan
Ali Reza Jahan
Ali Reza Jahan
December 24, 2009 Updated: December 30, 2009

Basiji forces in Isfahan, Iran, surrounded the home of a well-respected reformist leader, Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, on Wednesday, as commemoration and protesting converged for the fourth day in a row in a country on the verge of turmoil.

Independent Iranian reports from the Internet confirm the use of violence by the plain-clothes militia against reformist protesters in the Isfahan birthplace of the late, well-respected cleric and reformist leader, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

Radio Farda, a Persian radio station based in Prague and Washington, D.C., broadcast one report from an eyewitness, who said the security forces pushed back against the crowd, then roughed up the crowd, beating them with batons and trying to prevent a memorial address by Taheri from taking place.

Taheri, a member of the Assembly of Experts and a representative for the former Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, resigned from his post in 2002, after questioning the direction the Iranian regime had taken.

Since leaving the position, Taheri has been an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime and the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—going so far as to publish an open letter at the end of June, calling current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency illegitimate.

The Iranian regime’s domestic military presence has become ever more pronounced in recent days, as public protests by the reformist movement in Iran continue.

Resurgence of Public Protests

The death of one of the most vocal reformist leaders, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, on Saturday has fueled what was thought to be a hushed reformist movement since June's protests that followed the presidential election.

By contrast, Montazeri’s death has become a rallying cry for the movement, as the legitimacy of the current Iranian regime continues to be questioned.