Pro-reform Iranian religious leader dies aged 83
Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, 83, died in a hospital in the holy city of Qom after being hospitalised for two days with a broken hip and wrist, IRNA said. Qom is known for its Shia seminaries that attract students from across Iran and other countries.
In 2009, Saanei had supported opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and criticised hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who beat Mousavi in that year's disputed elections.
Mousavi's electoral defeat led to the widespread Green Movement protests, which were put down by Iranian security forces.
That year, some opposition websites quoted Saanei as saying, "Ahmadinejad is not the president and cooperation with him is haram (forbidden by Islamic law)."
Many religious hard-liners in Iran isolated Saanei because of the positions he staked out after the 2009 elections. The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom stripped him of his authority to issue religious edicts, and his website was blocked a year later.
Saanei also supported Iran's current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate within the country's political system, during his successful 2013 presidential run. Many members of Rouhani's cabinet visited Saanei after taking office.
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