Son of defamed ex-successor to Islamic Republic founder confronts Khamenei

Ayatollah Montazeri, who died in 2009, was once designated to be the successor to the founder of the Islamic Republic, Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini.

May 30, 2019 05:42
3 minute read.
IRANIAN SUPREME Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death

IRANIAN SUPREME Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the death anniversary of Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Tehran on June 4, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Saeed Montazeri, the son of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, spoke out against the defamation of his father in a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday, according to Radio Farda.

Ayatollah Montazeri, who died in 2009, was once designated to be the successor to the founder of the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica. Montazeri studied under Khomeini and maintained his message in Iran while Khomeini was exiled.

Montazeri was arrested a number of times and exiled often within Iran in attempts to curb his influence, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica. In spite of these efforts, he was highly successful in attracting followers. After the revolution, he served an instrumental part in drafting the new Islamic Republic's constitution.

Although he supported governance by the religious jurist at the start of the Islamic Republic, he later spoke out against the unchecked power of the supreme leader, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.

After a falling out with Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988 over the execution of thousands of political prisoners, he was stripped of his right to succession, the encyclopedia explained.

Ali Khamenei succeeded Khomeini when the Supreme Leader died in 1989, but Montazeri argued that Khamenei's relatively junior status was not high enough to entitle him to issue fatwas (Islamic legal opinions). These positions led to Ayatollah Montazeri being placed under house arrest after he was forced to resign, but he remained influential in Iranian politics. Many high status officials in the Shia clergy reffered to him as the "Grand Marja" or "source of emulate."

One of the leading critics of Iran's national and foreign policy for over a decase, Ayatollah Montazeri also spoke out against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was also an avid advocate of Baha'i rights, civil rights and women's rights in Iran, according to Radio Farda.

In a strong move, Ayatollah Montazeri published his memoirs on his personal website in 2001.

Saeed Montazeri complained in his letter to Khamenei that 10 years after his father had died, Ayatollah Montazeri's diaries were still banned in Iran. At the same time, numerous books, TV shows and documentaries have discredited the contents of the Ayatollah's diaries.

“Ten years after my father's passing, a one-sided propaganda attack against him is still underway in full force,” Saeed Montazeri wrote in the letter to Khamenei. “Attacking my father has been going on incessantly in the past decade by presenting irrational and ludicrous remarks or citing others’ baseless comments”.

"An individual has expressed something that might consequentially involve your eminence, as well," Saeed Montazeri wrote addressing Khamenei directly. "The individual in question has introduced himself as a person with an important responsibility at a center for documentation and recording history."

Saeed Montazeri added that the "individual had been charged with a heinous immoral act and had his friends at Special Clerical Court not helped him cover it up, he would not have been spared under the ruling of the law and Shari’a."

Radio Farda stated that it is believed that Saeed Montazeri was referring to Iranian cleric Rouhollah Hosseinian who serves as the head of the Islamic Revolution Document Center.

Hosseinian claimed in an interview in April that during a gathering attended by Ayatollah Khamenei and other prominent religious figures in the 1980s, Ayatollah Khomenei stated that "Montazeri is not only corrupt, but he also corrupts the scholars he trains."

Saeed Montazeri also protested that his father's religious center has been sealed off for 22 years and was extremely delapidated.

Saeed Montazeri was placed in solitary confinement in 2000 and 2001 and complained that "members of the Montazeri household, even the ones without any problem with the regime, are banned from traveling abroad," in the letter.

Khamenei was taught by Ayatollah Montazeri in the 1960s and 1970s, but has been critical of the late Ayatollah, according to Radio Farda.

Ayatollah Montzeri criticized Khamenei's decision-making in 2009 and stated that revering the post of a supreme leader is like worshiping multiple gods, which is a mortal sin in Islam.

Montazeri stressed that the supreme leader needs widespread genuine support among the people in order to claim legitimacy.

He also claimed that Khamenei's leadership was more military than Islamic. In a 2008 interview with the US government-funded multimedia agency Voice of America, Montazeri stated that the 1979 revolution had "given Islam a bad name," adding that "unfortunately, it is only by name that the revolution remains Islamic."

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