Spontaneous protests have erupted across university campuses and cities in Iran following the death of dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was considered a thorn in the side of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The outpouring of support for the cleric threatens to set the stage for another confrontation between protesters, still angry about last June’s presidential elections, and the government, which has stepped up security in Qom, Montazeri’s hometown. His death comes a day after 12 prison officials were charged in the murder of three jailed protesters. Montazeri gained a following for advocating for more democracy and reform in Iran. Monday has been declared a national day of mourning by opposition leaders, and thousands have already gathered for his funeral.
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