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Iran Protests Erupt, Take Analysts By Surprise

It’s a week before the presidential elections and the political atmosphere in Iran is heating up. For the first time in years demonstrators this week dared gathering in public in a large protest against the regime.

Tuesday they took advantage of the funeral of an admired, dissident, senior cleric in the city of Isfahan. Tens of thousands of Iranians attended the funeral of the pro-reformist Ayatollah Jalal Al-Din Taheri, who died at the age of 87. The funeral turned into the biggest anti-regime protest since the fraudulent presidential elections in 2009 in which the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is believed to have ordered the Revolutionary Guards and its popular militia, the basij, to orchestrate the victory of his then protégé, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The protest surprised the Iranian authorities as well as even some Iran observers .

A senior Israeli intelligence official who monitors the political development in Iran told The Tower, “the protest and the demonstrators are living evidence that our knowledge of the tectonic movement beneath the surface in Iran is very limited”.

The BBC reported that the mourners shouted the familiar slogans against the regime including “Death to the Dictator” a reference to Khamenei.

Ayatollah Taheri, was a vociferous opponent of the hardliner conservatives in power in Iran, and resigned in 2002 from his position as Isfahan’s leader of the traditional Friday prayers in protest against the country’s political and economic situation. He criticized the regime for what he called “broken promises” of the revolution.

[Photo: Andrew Partain / Flickr]