AP: Dueling protests erupt at Iran professor’s funeral

Jan 14, 20100 comments

BY NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 4:42 a.m. TEHRAN, Iran — The funeral Thursday for an Iranian physics professor killed in a mysterious bomb attack turned into competing demonstrations by pro- and anti-government supporters with hundreds of security forces standing by. Witnesses said half of about 1,000 people at the funeral for Masoud Ali Mohammadi were opposition supporters and there were some minor scuffles with police during the burial. Some carried green banners, the color symbolizing their movement, and shouted support for the opposition. The other side chanted “Down with the U.S.” and “Death to Israel” as mourners carried the body shrouded in an Iranian flag on their shoulders. Some cameramen and photographers covering the funeral were taken to a police station, where their press IDs were checked. They were later released. The 50-year-old Tehran Universityprofessor was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded Tuesday morning outside his home as he was leaving for work. It remains unclear why the researcher with no prominent political voice, no published work with military relevance and no declared links to Iran’s nuclear program was targeted for assassination. Authorities blamed an armed Iranian opposition group acting on behalf of Israeland the U.S. The U.S. government forcefully denied any involvement and Israel did not comment. Before the disputed June presidential election, Ali Mohammadi had signed a list of 420 Tehran University faculty supporting the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi. In recent weeks, hard-line government supporters have called for the execution of the opposition leaders. But the professor did not take any known high-profile role in anti-government protests after the election. Mousavi’s supporters claim he was the rightful winner of the election and allege Mahmoud Ahmadinejadwas declared president through fraud. Two former Iranian presidents who are now both leading opposition figures – Mohammad Khatamiand Hashemi Rafsanjani – condemned the killing on Wednesday as an act of terrorism that could deepen unrest and violence. But both hard-line government supporters and the opposition are calling him a “martyr” of terrorism, adding to the murkiness surrounding the killing. Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, offered his condolences, state TV reported. Salehi said the professor was a “shining figure” in Iran’s prominent Sharif University in the past, when Salehi was a chancellor there. Source: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/14/dueling-protests-erupt-at-iran-professors-funeral/