Iran Government Supporters Rally Against Opposition
VOA News 22 December 2009
Iranian state media report that a large group of people gathered in the city of Qom Tuesday to denounce opposition activists who demonstrated at the funeral of a dissident cleric.
The report from the Fars news agency says the crowd gathered near the home of the Islamic Republic's late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Also Tuesday, an opposition Web site says members of Iran's Basij militia attacked the office of another pro-reform cleric, Ayatollah Yusuf Sanei.
The site, Norooz, said plainclothes militia members broke windows and beat up members of Sanei's staff.
The action comes a day after the funeral for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri evolved into a major anti-government protest.
Reformist Web sites quoted Montazeri's son, Ahmad Montazeri, Tuesday as saying traditional memorial services for the third and seventh day of mourning for the cleric will not take place due to security concerns.
Ayatollah Montazeri was critical of Iran's leadership, and reformists considered him the spiritual patron of their movement.
The United States has issued condolences for Montazeri, with a White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, saying Washington supports the cleric's defense of human rights and his opposition to the Iranian government.
A State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said Monday's anti-government protests reflect a "fissure" in Iranian society that authorities in Tehran are having a tough time dealing with.
In another development, Iranian media report opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi has been stripped of his post as head of Iran's Academy of Art.
The former prime minister lost to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the disputed June election and became the leading opposition figure in the protests that followed.
Another reformist presidential candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, has warned western nations against trying to help the opposition challenge the government.
In an interview with The Times newspaper of London, published Tuesday, Karroubi said such efforts "pave the way for suppression and accusations of dependence on foreigners."
Karroubi accused the president of corruption and criticized him for damaging the economy and unfairly closing newspapers.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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