Tens of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets on Monday (10 September to mourn the death of the country's second-ranking religious leader, the Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani.
Tens of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets on Monday (10 September to mourn the death of the country's second-ranking religious leader, the Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani. As well as being a moderate link between Islamic right-wingers and secular left-wingers, the Ayatollah was also head of Iran's Council of Revolution, according to an official statement at the time of his death.
SYNOPSIS: Within hours of the Ayatollah Taleghani's death, the streets of Teheran were filled with mourners. Tens of thousands of Iranians joined the funeral procession which made its way to he Behesht-a-Zahra cemetery in the south of the city.
On the way, many of the mourners were in an emotional state. The sixty-eight year-old Ayatollah who died of heat failure, was considered irreplaceable by many different sectors of Iranian society. Imprisoned under the Shah's regime, he was respected by both religious and secular groups, and had been capable of providing a link between the ruling clergy and the radicals - the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq and the Fedayeen.
The Ayatollah's value to the new government was underlined in a statement released upon his death disclosing that he had been the head of Iran's Council of Revolution. No other members of the Council have ever been officially identified, and the Ayatollah Taleghani's importance to it was all the more surprising in the light of his outspoken criticism of the Ayatollah Khomeini in April this year. On that occasion, he left Teheran in disgust at what he called 'the trampled rights of the Iranian people' - an open challenge to the power of the numerous local revolutionary committees that were carrying out summary trials throughout the capital.
In recent weeks, however, Ayatollah Taleghani had been moving towards a more hard-line stance in keeping with that of his stricter colleagues in the Islamic clergy. However, if one of these is chosen as his successor, many Iranians believe there will be double reason to remember this last glimpse of him with fondness.