Rally in support of murdered Iranian opposition leader

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Copyright (c) 1998, dpa

Teheran (dpa) - More than 10,000 people on Thursday attended a rally in the Iranian capital Teheran in support of the murdered liberal opposition leader Darisuh Foruhar.

What was initially scheduled to be a mourning ceremony in downtown Teheran turned spontaneously into a rally with the demonstrators shouting for freedom and implementation of the nation's will.

Dariush Foruhar, 72, a renowned liberal opposition figure and former labour minister in the first post-revolution government of Premier Mehdi Bazargan, was stabbed to death in Teheran on Sunday by unknown assailants. His wife Parvaneh, 59, was also killed in the attack.

Although the rally ended with a mass prayer headed by senior liberal opposition figure, Yadollah Sahabi, and without any serious confrontations, police had to block the streets in the crowded downtown district of the capital for preventing any disorder.

The demonstrators also condemned ``fundamentalism'', referring to radical Islamic hardliners who consider the liberal opposition as secular and opponents to the Islamic system.

Foruhar and his wife are scheduled to be buried in the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in southern Teheran . Police forces have reportedly been stationed in the cemetery to prevent clashes between the liberal mourners and hardliners.

A spokesman of the Teheran police, Colonel Ali Moqaddam, was quoted Thursday by the Teheran press as saying that a number of suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder but gave no further details.

Iran 's moderate President Mohammad Khatami has harshly condemn ed the murder, terming it as a ``disgusting crime''.

The Supreme National Security Council, the highest decision-making body of the country, held an emergency session attended by Khatami as well as Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mussavi-Lari and high-ranking officials of the intelligence service and judiciary to follow up the incident.

Although no motives have yet been found behind the murder, but the daily Tehran Times quoted an interior ministry source as saying that Foruhar might have been killed due to his open support for Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Foruhar led the liberal Iran Nation Party, a rather minor liberal group compared to the Freedom Movement which is headed by Ebrahim Yazdi, who like Foruhar, also served in the first post-revolution government as foreign minister.

Foruhar's party as well as his critical and secular remarks against the establishment were tolerated by the administration and liberals gained a more open political space after Khatami assumed office in August last year.