Thank you, DoctorZIn.
Iran Agents Free Most of Cleric's Aides
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian security agents freed all but one of the close aides to Iran's most senior dissident cleric - including two of his sons - but sealed off a building that he planned to use as a seminary, one of the cleric's son said Tuesday.
Ahmad Montazeri, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri's son, said that he, his brother Saeed, and several others were freed Monday evening. However, Reza Ziaei, one of Montazeri's close aides, was blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten during interrogation and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Ahmed Montazeri said he and his brother were not mistreated while in custody. He said they were questioned about the family's plans to turn a building next to their home into a seminary where the elder Montazeri would teach.
On Monday, Rabbani had said that security agents detained four people but Ahmad told The Associated Press Tuesday that two more aides and five construction workers were detained Monday but freed several hours later.
The elder Montazeri, 81, is one of a few grand ayatollahs, the most senior theologians of the Shiite Muslim faith. He enjoys a huge following in Qom and Isfahan, his birthplace, and many reformists see him as a charismatic leader who could bring profound democratic changes in Iran.
The elder Montazeri resumed teaching in September after spending five years under house arrest in Qom, a holy city 80 miles southwest of Tehran, for telling students that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was incompetent to issue religious rulings.
Grand Ayatollah Montazeri had also accused ruling hard-line clerics of monopolizing power and ignoring Iranians' demands for democracy. Khamenei denounced him as a traitor and the mosque where he made the speech was closed.
"That mosque still remains closed, and we need facilities for the grand ayatollah to teach," Ahmad Montazeri said Tuesday. Hard-liners "don't want my father to have any facilities to teach, let alone engage in political activities."
He said security agents on the order of the Special Clergy Court, a body dealing with clerics, used welding machines to seal off the entrance to the building where the seminary was to have been located. He did not say whether the family would press ahead with plans to open a seminary.
The senior Montazeri had been the designated successor of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the 1979 Islamic revolution, until he fell out with Khomeini shortly before his 1989 death after complaining about powers wielded by unelected clerics.
In his first public speech in six years following the lifting of the house arrest order in September, Montazeri denounced Iran's theocratic establishment as undemocratic and urged it to allow the country's young people to choose their future. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/nov/04/110404426.html