Tehran – Iranian people reacted with shock and anger on Tuesday to the news that the country’s top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, had died at age 90.
The Grand Ayats death comes just days after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatas successor, Ali Khamenei, had warned against a possible US military invasion of Iran.
Sistani was a staunch ally of Khamenei and one of the most powerful religious figures in Iran.
He was also the most influential religious figure in the world and one who dominated the political and military apparatus of the Islamic Republic.
But on Tuesday, the Grand Ayati, who was also known as Grand Mufti, made a surprise appearance on the state-run TV station, IRNA, where he said: “My death will not be a cause for celebration or mourning.”
“We will not bury him.
He has died a martyr.
He died for his country and for the Islamic republic.””
He was a powerful figure who played a central role in the countrys politics, military and security,” he added.”
He died on a holy day in a country where there was no martyrs.”
Khamenei also said that Sistani had died a hero.
“His sacrifice for his faith and the Islamic nation is an example for us all, he added in a televised address.
The United States has long claimed Iran as a “rogue state”, but has not taken any actions to support or even try to help its ally as it seeks to expand its influence in the Middle East.US President Donald Trump has called Sistani a “true friend of the US” and has said that Tehran would not hesitate to act against any US or Israel attacks on the Islamic country.
In an interview with a local television station in March, Khamenei also blamed Iran’s foreign ministry for the death of Sistani.”
They have a lot of problems.
The foreign ministry has become a monster,” he said.”
But the situation has worsened over the past year.
So we have to fight against it.
“Iran’s supreme Leader, Ayats successor, Ayans successor, has also said he is not concerned by the death.”
I do not feel that I need to be concerned about this issue,” Khamenei said in March.”
The Grand Mufts death is a tragedy.
But the problems are not going to be solved by a military attack on Iran.””
If the US wants to impose its policy in the region, we are willing to play a role,” Khameni added.
The Iranian government said it will continue to cooperate with the US, but the White House said the US would be “fully aware of Iran’s decision-making processes”.
The US has also issued an official statement expressing its condolences to Sistani’s family and friends, and said it has a “deep concern about the circumstances of the death”.
The death of Grand Ayatis successor has also caused a rift in the Islamic revolution, with some leading clerics publicly condemning the “war on the Imam”, or the Supreme Leader, and denouncing the US as a spy.