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Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri Has Died

The BBC reports that a principal leader of the reform has died:

Crowds of mourners are gathering in the Iranian city of Qom following the death of leading reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri at 87.

Some pro-reform websites say thousands of people are travelling to the city ahead of Monday’s funeral.

Other unverified reports say opposition supporters are also gathering in some squares in Tehran, fuelling government concern of increased political tension.

Iran faced serious unrest after its disputed presidential election in June.

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, one of Shia Islam’s most respected figures and a leading critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, himself said in August that the turmoil following the election “could lead to the fall of the regime”.

Montazeri was something of a purist. He was the heir apparent to Khomeini, as his chief lieutenant in the Iranian revolution, but split over the form of the government. He was a firm believer in the separation of religion and politics, seeing religion as the loser in such an association.