Taheri's funeral
Taheri's funeralReuters

A funeral for a dissident cleric in Iran turned into a massive rally against the government, the BBC reports.

Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri, 87, was a pro-reform Muslim leader in the city of Isfahan. He was a vocal critic of extremist Islam and of the Iranian regime.

His funeral procession turned into a protest, with mourners calling for the release of Iran’s reformist Green Movement.

A video on Al-Arabiya showed several thousand people in the funeral procession shouting, “Down with the dictator,” a reference to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Tensions had been high prior to the funeral due to the government’s pre-elections crackdown on the Green Movement. The movement’s leaders have been barred from running in the elections, and two of them have been put under house arrest.

Iranian police did not intervene. Authorities may have feared that a police crackdown would harm the ruling party’s election campaign. Iran’s presidential elections will be held next week.