A popular Shiite Muslim cleric who opposes mixing religion and politics was detained Sunday after his supporters clashed with police outside his home in the capital Tehran, news reports said.

Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi, a mid-ranking cleric, receives hundreds of visitors at home every day asking for his blessing but he is not favored among Iran's hardline clerics under Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei because he does not support politicizing Islam.

About 200 demonstrators gathered beginning Saturday at Boroujerdi's home, fearing he could be arrested. The Interior Ministry said the demonstrators had blocked roads using swords and acid.

The demonstrators clashed with police and authorities fired back with tear gas to scatter the crowd, several nongovernment newspapers reported.

Later Sunday, the Interior Ministry said authorities detained several members of a"religious cult"after they attacked people with knives and acid. The ministry, in a statement posted on its Web site, did not name any of those arrested. But the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported that one of those detained was 50-year-old Boroujerdi.

Telephone calls to Iranian authorities were not immediately returned Sunday.

In August, police failed to detain Boroujerdi when his supporters clashed with police in front of his home. He was detained twice in 1995 and 2000.

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