Tens of thousands rally at funeral of Iranian dissident
November 26, 1998
Web posted at: 8:10 PM EST (0110 GMT)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A funeral procession for a slain dissident and his wife
turned into a rally Thursday, with tens of thousands of mourners pledging to
continue his struggle for freedom.

Many in the crowd carried large photos of Dariush Foruhar and his wife,
Parvaneh, who were stabbed to death in their Tehran home. Their bodies were
discovered Sunday; police reportedly have taken several suspects into custody.

In a speech to Intelligence Ministry officials Thursday, President Mohammad
Khatami said Foruhar's killers must be brought to justice.

"The murder of the late Mr. Foruhar is condemned. The government, and
especially the intelligence network, have a very important duty to confront
it," Khatami said in comments reported by the state-run radio.

"If we don't deal with the crime seriously, and not identify the culprits, the
episode will not only constitute a disrespect for our (Islamic) system, it will
become the beginning of more problems to come," Khatami said.

Khatami, a moderate cleric elected last year, has promised more political
freedoms.

But he faces strong opposition from hard-line opponents, who are backed by
street vigilantes who have often taken the law into their hands.

Over the past year, the vigilantes have attacked dissidents, liberal newspapers
and even a reformist Cabinet minister. They have also broken up pro-democracy
rallies.

The Iran News daily on Thursday quoted a police official as saying that several
people had been arrested in connection with the murders of Foruhar and his
wife. It gave no other details.

Tens of thousands of supporters turned out for Foruhar's funeral at the Fakhr
Mosque in downtown Tehran, not far from where the couple had lived.

Streets around the neighborhood were closed to traffic by police, who formed
human chains to try to control the crowds.

Mourners pushed past the police, with minor scuffles, and made their way from
the mosque to the old Parliament. The building is a symbol of a nationalist
movement that Foruhar helped found in the 1950s.

"You will live forever, Foruhar," the mourners chanted. "Your struggle
continues with us."

After a mass prayer in the streets, thousands of mourners crammed into buses
for the 30-minute ride to the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery south of Tehran for the
burial.

Foruhar, 70, was the leader of the People's Party of Iran, a small opposition
group that is tolerated by the government.

He served as minister of labor and social affairs in the provisional government
of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan immediately after the 1979 Islamic Revolution
that toppled the monarchy.

His wife was in her mid-50s.