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Reformist Iranian Cleric Yousef Saanei Dies In Qom

Ayatollah Yousef Saanei (file photo)

Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, a pro-reform Iranian cleric and a critic of the establishment who sided with the opposition movement following the controversial 2009 presidential election, has died. He was 83.

Ayatollah Saanei died in a hospital in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom after being hospitalized for two days with a broken hip and wrist, Iranian state media reported.

In 2009, Saanei had supported opposition figure Mir Hossein Musavi and criticized hard-liner Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who beat Musavi in that year's disputed election. Ahmadinejad’s reelection led to mass street protests and a brutal state crackdown.

Sanei came under pressure by hard-liners over his support for Musavi and the opposition movement.

The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom stripped him of his authority to issue religious edicts, and his website was blocked.

Sanei had issued several religious edicts banning discrimination based on gender.

With reporting by AP and IRNA