Thousands of Iranians poured into the streets in Iran yesterday (11 September) to demonstrate their grief at the death of Iran's number two religious leader, the Ayatollah Taleghani.
Thousands of Iranians poured into the streets in Iran yesterday (11 September) to demonstrate their grief at the death of Iran's number two religious leader, the Ayatollah Taleghani. And in Teheran, thousands of mourners collected at his graveside to pay tribute to the man who had the reputation as the most radical of Iran's Shi'ite clergymen.
Iranian authorities have proclaimed three days of official mourning for the Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, who died on Monday of heart failure. Huge crowds have been gathering in Teheran since the announcement of his death in a massive public outpouring of grief. the Ayatollah was the city's spiritual chief, and an outspoken critic of the Ayatollah Khomeini. So it was even more surprising that an official announcement was made shortly after his death. saying that he had in fact, been the head of Iran's Council of the Revolution-the body which has been ruling Iran since the Shah's departure. The council's membership is still secret, but it is believed to consist mainly of senior Shi'ite clergymen. Ayatollah Taleghani was known to be one of its members, but was reported to have boycotted all of its meetings since the February revolution. He had also been an outspoken critic, during the time between the revolution and his death, of some of the harsher policies of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Ayatollah Khomeini's message of condolence from the holy city of Qom was brief. He said 'I did not expect to survive while losing my close and trusted friends one after the other". Similar messages came from other religious leaders, but the outpouring of grief by the people of Teheran was the most spectacular.
The Ayatollah Taleghani drew his mourners, and his support, from both students and workers. The task of replacing him on the Revolutionary Council, and as the spiritual leader of Teheran will begin as soon as the official mourning period ends.