The death Sunday of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has recharged opposition protests in Iran. Montazeri was a highly respected religious figure — perhaps the most widely revered imam in the country — who had come to the conclusion that clerics held too much political power in Iran, which he argued compromised the integrity both of Islam and the government.
That argument constitutes a direct assault on the current regime, which claims that only religious figures can hold ultimate civil authority over believers. Montazeri’s support insulated reformers from the charge that they were anti-Islamic, and in death that support seems to have taken on even more power.
Below is video taken from a funeral procession Monday in the holy city of Qum. Iranian officials had tried to prevent and then quell this demonstration. They clearly failed. In fact, the government’s continued inability to silence its critics is an encouraging and eventually perhaps fatal sign of weakness.