Iran arrests controversial cleric


By Sadeq Saba BBC News, Oct 8, 2006

An Iranian cleric, Mohammed Kazemeini Boroujerdi, has been arrested amid clashes between his supporters and police outside his house in Tehran.

Police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of his followers, who had formed a cordon around his residence.

In his sermons Mr Boroujerdi advocated a traditional interpretation of Islam which separates religion from politics. He is accused of misinterpreting Islam.

However, his supporters see him as a religious leader with spiritual powers.

Hidden Imam

Mr Boroujerdi has hundreds of supporters who regard him as a prominent cleric or ayatollah with divine powers to solve their spiritual and material problems.

He has been preaching his brand of Islam for years in a mosque in a poor neighbourhood in the south of Tehran.

However, Iranian officials have accused him of claiming to be a representative of a Shia saint, known as the hidden Imam, who is believed to have disappeared in the 10th Century.

But in an interview with a foreign radio station, Mr Boroujerdi denied the accusation and said he only defended what he termed the true Islam.

It appears that his increasing appeal among some sections of people in recent years has alarmed the authorities.

Liberal and dissident clerics in Iran have told the BBC that Mr Boroujerdi is not known outside a small circle of dedicated followers.