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Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
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Religious Figure
    (1922-December 19, 2009)
    Born in Najafabad, Iran
    Shiite Islamic theologian
    Designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader of Iran (1985-89)
    Demoted after criticizing Khomeini's actions
    Placed under house arrest for questioning the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini (1997-2003)
    He joined Khomeni in protesting the Shah's Westernization campaigns, including allowing women to vote (1963).
    He declared that Iranian law could never grant women equality in certain matters, such as inheritance or legal testimony, because it would go against the Koran.
    Early in the revolution, he was mocked by the upper and middle classes as a country bumpkin.
    After the overthrow of the Shah, he played a key role in replacing a democratic and secular draft constitution with one that created an Islamic theocracy.
    He said that in writing the constitution, he intended for religious leaders to advise the government, not run it.
    He said occupying the American embassy and taking hostages had been a mistake.
    He condemned the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, noting 'People in the world are getting the idea that our business in Iran is just murdering people.'
    He was imprisoned and tortured by the Shah's regime (1974-78).
    He told Khomeini that his prison and judiciary systems were worse than the Shah's.

Credit: C. Fishel


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