Thousands attend funeral of murdered Iranian dissident

Agence France-Presse
(Copyright 1998)

TEHRAN , Nov 26 (AFP) - Mourners chanted slogans against "despotism" as thousands of Iranians attended the funeral here Thursday of murdered nationalist dissident Dariush Foruhar and his wife, Parvaneh.

The 6,000-7,000 mourners included members of secular and Islamic opposition groups which are banned but grudgingly tolerated by the Islamic regime, as well as Foruhar's daughter who returned to Iran from Germany on Tuesday.

Mourners chanted slogans against "despotism" and in favour of Iran 's late nationalist premier Mohammad Mossadeq, toppled by an army coup in 1953, who is the symbol of Iran 's liberal-nationalist movement.

Foruhar, who was stabbed to death in his home along with his wife over the weekend, was a close associate of Mossadeq, and a long-time opponent of the Shah.

He briefly served as labour minister in the provisional government that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution, resigning to head his own nationalist Iranian Nation's Party and went on to become one of the Islamic Republic's harshest critics.

The victims' coffins were carried from a mosque near their central Tehran home to Baharestan Square where Iran 's first parliament met in 1906. The square is full of symbolism for Iran 's liberals and nationalists.

One of Foruhar's associates, former oil minister Ali Akbar Moinfar, told the crowd they were mourning "for the whole nation" and vowed that the struggle against oppression would go on.

The coffins were draped in the Iranian flag though without the Islamic symbol of Allah which has characterised Iran 's banner since the Islamic revolution.

They were taken from the square to the vast public cemetery of Behesht-e-Zahra south of Tehran for burial.

The outlawed but tolerated Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI), condemned Wednesday this "abominable crime" and called on people to "resist those who want to spread terror to hamper the country's political progress."

President Mohammad Khatami called it a "repulsive crime" and ordered the interior and intelligence ministries to work to identify those responsible.

Police announced Wednesday they had arrested a number of suspects in connection with the murder, without giving details.