Iranian hard-liners riled over burial

American's wish to be interred in country irks faction

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TEHRAN, Iran -- Richard Nelson Frye, a renowned American scholar of Iran who died last month in Boston at 94, wanted to be buried at a spot in this country where songbirds sing and dry desert breezes cool the slow afternoons.

Mr. Frye -- a Harvard professor who had dedicated his life to studying Iran, its ancient culture and its melodious language -- had expressed in his will his desire to be buried in the land that he loved. He chose a mausoleum on a lush green bank of the idyllic Zayandeh River.

But Mr. Frye's plan has run up against Tehran's faction of hard-liners. Unsettled by budding talks between Iran and the United States, they have seized every opportunity to highlight their distrust of Americans, who they say are intent on destroying the Islamic Republic's political system. Now Mr. Frye's final request has become caught up in those machinations.

Mr. Frye, known as Irandoost, or a friend of Iran, was a popular figure in Iran, even among some of the country's outspoken anti-American leaders.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who on his Twitter account called Mr. Frye "a true friend," began making inquiries to determine what steps had been taken to prepare for Mr. Frye's interment.

But on Friday during the weekly political sermon in Isfahan, the prayer leader, Mohammad Taqi Raghbar, called Mr. Frye "a spy" and a robber of Iranian national artifacts.


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