Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was one of the leaders of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. At one time he was designated successor to the Ayatollah Khomeini but fell out with Khomeini in 1989 because he disagreed with government policies that infringed on freedom and denied people’s rights. He is a senior Islamic scholar and a Grand Marja (religious authority) of Islam.

Montazeri has never been a big fan of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his nuclear and economic policies. While agreeing Iran had the right to develop nuclear energy, he called Ahmadinejad’s approach to the issue aggressive, saying, “One has to deal with the enemy with wisdom, not provoke it, … his (provocation) only creates problems for the country.” and asked, “don’t we have other rights too?” – referring to individual and human rights. Montazeri also criticized the economic performance of Ahmadinejad’s administration’s, noting the rate of inflation – including the 50% increase in housing costs – arguing that a country cannot be run on “slogans“.

In June Montazeri bashed Ahmadinejad and the results of the election. He said, “No one in their right mind can believe” the results were fairly counted. Montazeri called for three days of public mourning for the death of Neda Agha-Soltan and others killed during the June 22nd protests.

Now On the Eve of Iran’s Qods Day, Leading Iranian Cleric and Dissident Ayatollah Montazeri is calling on Iranian clerics countrywide to come out openly against the regime.

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MEMRI-On the eve of Iran’s annual Qods (Jerusalem) Day, September 18, 2009, which traditionally features mass demonstrations held by the regime, senior Iranian dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Hossein Montazeri called on all senior clerics in Iran’s major cities – Qom, Mashhad, Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, and others (and also in Iraq’s holy Shi’ite cities Najaf and Karbala), to come out openly against the regime and to use their influence to restore the power to the people.

In a letter sent to all clerics in Iran, Montazeri underlined that in order to exist, the regime required the legitimacy granted to it by the country’s senior clerics. He said that the clerics’ silence in light of the events of recent months were being interpreted by the public as consent to the injustice of the regime – which he called a “military rule,” not the “rule of the jurisprudent.”

It is safe to assume that Montazeri’s call will have a significant impact on the upcoming Qods Day events.

The following are the highlights of Montazeri’s message, which was also posted on his offcial website and on the website: [1]

In his message, Ayatollah Montazeri came out against the regime, which he said had shed the blood of innocent civilians while committing human rights violations. Throughout history, he wrote, Iran’s senior clerics had come out against the injustices and oppression of tyrannical regimes in Iran, and took pride in always standing up against them and defending the law and the rights of the people.

Montazeri appealed to the clerics, warning them that they bore a heavy responsibility as jurisprudents (maraje’). This, he said, was because in addition to their overall functions, they were responsible for defending the religion and for purging it of the deeds that this regime has been perpetrating in the name of the religion – deeds that are diametrically opposed to shari’a and to the goals of the Islamic Revolution.

Referring to the events of recent months following the presidential election, which he said included murder, oppression, and various human rights violations in the name of the religion and with the support of part of the regime’s religious establishment, Montazeri called on the clerics to declare out loud that they oppose the regime. He said that instead of representing the voice of the people, the regime had brought about a most terrible situation of violence against defenseless men and women and of oppression, to the point of causing their shehada (deaths), in some cases in prison.

Montazeri pointed specifically to the regime’s pressure on former presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, whom he called men of honor, and again appealed to the clerics, saying that it is their role and their traditional and historic responsibility to act in light of the deeds of the regime, which are counter to Islam.

He concluded by saying that the Iranian people is asking why the clerics are not coming out against the oppression and the injustice. He reiterated his call to the clerics to use their power, their ability, and their influence against the regime – because, he said, they know all too well that the regime requires their legitimization. The regime, Montazeri told the clerics, is exploiting you, and your silence makes you its collaborators.

[1], September 14, 2009.