Iranian ayatollah's home attacked; Moussavi loses job

Iran Materials 23 December 2009 02:16 (UTC +04:00)

Supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday attacked the house of Grand Ayatollah Yussef Sanei in the religious city of Qom, reformist websites reported.

Hundreds of so-called Basij, voluntary militias supporting Ahmadinejad, attacked the ayatollah's house, insulted him, broke some windows and even injured some of his aides, several websites reported.

There has been no official confirmation yet and the report has not yet been carried by state media, dpa reported.

The 72-year-old Grand Ayatollah Sanei is an opponent of Ahmadinejad and has several times criticized the president's policies.

Following the death of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri on Saturday, Sanei is considered by observers as the successor of Montazeri and hence spiritual mentor of the country's opposition movement.

There were also protests Tuesday by Ahmadinejad supporters in front of Montazeri's house, forcing the ayatollah's family to cancel further mourning ceremonies to avoid renewed clashes, websites reported.

Meanwhile the Fars news agency reported Tuesday that Iran's opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi was dismissed from his last official position.

The former Iranian premier, who is also an architect and painter, had been head of the Arts Institute for the last 11 years but was dismissed by a cultural council led by President Ahmadinejad.

Council member Mohammad Mohammadian told Fars that the members held a meeting Tuesday evening, which was also attended by Ahmadinejad, and unanimously voted for the dismissal of Moussavi and election of Ali-Moalem Damghani as his successor.

Ahmadinejad had earlier called on dismissing Moussavi from all officials posts and even called on the judiciary to take legal actions against his political opponent.

Since the presidential election in June, Moussavi has become leader of the Green Movement - green stands for protest and change - which has in the meantime turned into the country's main opposition group.

Moussavi and the Greens accuse Ahmadinejad and the government of election fraud and have not acknowledged the president's re-election.

Despite political differences, the Green Movement has de facto become the umbrella group of all opposition parties and factions and is supported by other senior official figures such as former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and the two ex-presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.