TEHRAN - 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 laid to rest in the land that he loved. He chose a mausoleum on a lush green bank of the idyllic Zayandeh River, near the city of Isfahan, once the capital of the ancient Persian Empire.
But Mr. Frye's plan has run up against Tehran's small but influential faction of hard-liners.
Mr. Frye, known as Irandoost, or a friend of Iran, was a popular figure here, even among some of the country's outspoken anti-American leaders. In 2010, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then Iran's president, gave Mr. Frye the keys to a traditional house in Isfahan with a flower-filled courtyard garden. Mr. Ahmadinejad also approved the plan for Mr. Frye's burial.
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. "How can we allow a C.I.A. operative to be buried in our city?" said Mr. Raghbar, prompting the worshipers to shout, "Death to America."
Her husband never worked for the C.I.A., said Mrs. Naby Frye, who described herself as an Iranian-Assyrian. "And no, he was never ever paid by the C.I.A.," she said in her statement. "I know. I have been the financial half of our 38 years and 299 days of our marriage."
"Our hard-liners believe that all Westerners are spies," said Nader Karimi Joni, a journalist.
reported that the police had cordoned off the area around the mausoleum in what seemed to be an attempt to protect it from protesters.
On Sunday, a member of Parliament from Isfahan, Adnan Zatoush, said the Zayandeh River, which means the river of life, would turn into the "river of death" if Mr. Frye's body was buried on its bank.