Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Teheran on Wednesday (19 December) in a funeral procession for a Moslem leader shot dead in the centre of the city.
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Teheran on Wednesday (19 December) in a funeral procession for a Moslem leader shot dead in the centre of the city. The assassination of Doctor Mohammad Mofateh, a leading Islamic theologian, has been blamed on agents of the United States and demonstrators chanted anti-American slogans as the procession passed the occupied U.S. Embassy.
SYNOPSIS: Dr. Mohammad Mofateh was a former pupil and aide of Ayatollah Khomeini. He was shot on Tuesday (18 December) as he stepped from his car to enter the Teheran Theological school where he was director.
Witnesses said Dr. Mofateh managed to drag himself into the building but the gunmen followed, shot him again in the head and escaped on motorcycles. Dr. Mofateh later died in hospital.
Crowds of people knelt and wept with the news of his death. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but Iran's ruling revolutionary council has blamed the United States Central Intelligence Agency and Savak, the Shah's secret police.
Unofficial speculation on the killing centres on an underground Moslem sect calling itself Forghan. The organisation portrays itself as a Moslem fundamentalist group opposed to rule by the clergy. The killing is said to bear the group's trademarks especially the attack by men on motorcycles.
Thousands of people lined the procession route from Teheran University to the United States Embassy as the body of Dr. Mofateh was taken for burial in the holy city of Qom. The funeral came as the occupation of the embassy approached its fiftieth day. While big demonstrations were common in the first weeks of the occupation, this was the first major gathering this month.
The demonstrators, led by Mullahs carrying garlands, wept and chanted "Death to Carter" and "Death to America". Other slogans proclaimed the dead clergyman as a martyr. Dr. Mofateh, who was exiled and jailed under the Shah's rule was believed to have served on the first secret revolutionary council after Ayatollah Khomeini took over.