Grand ayatollah voices dismay over election, police response

TEHRAN, Iran — While Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei holds all the major levers of power in Iran's theocratic government, ruling clerics are not united in their view of the outcome of last Friday's presidential elections.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, a leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution who has feuded often with Khamenei and once vied with him for Iran's top position, released a sharp letter saying that "no one in their right mind can believe" the reported election results.

He denounced the use of violence against protesters. "And now they are attempting a purge, arresting intellectuals, political opponents and (scientists)," he wrote.

Montazeri urged the military and police not to "sell their religion" by crushing the protests.

"“And beware that receiving orders will not excuse them before God. Recognize the protesting youth as your children. Today censor and cutting telecommunication lines can not hide the truth," he said.

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