Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Laments Corruption, Iran’s Fading Revolutionary Spirit

By Reza Hamidi

The Islamic Republic has failed to create a better society in the past 40 years, according to the Tehran Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi-Kermani.

“We had several good years right after the [1979] Revolution,” Ayatollah Movahedi-Kermani said in an interview with the Tehran-based online Aftab News in late October. “The first Majlis [Iranian Parliament] was a great success. There were many dedicated, enthusiastic, and conscientious representatives in the Majlis then. Putting it bluntly, it is not the same these days. People had a massive and positive presence in the process all those years ago. We have, unfortunately, not been able to produce better human beings.”

“Liberals and the Left did not align themselves with the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic] in the struggles against the establishment,” Movahedi-Kermani noted. “These and other groups ignored Imam’s call to unity. One of the principal forces active in the country at the time was Fadaiyan-e-Khalq [Marxist-Leninist underground guerrilla]. The group did not believe in the Imam’s views and visions, which made it next to impossible for him to include them in the revolutionary struggle.”

“Those movements did not support the Imam, even that man [a leader of the National Front of Iran] criticized the Imam for issuing a death penalty, calling it inhumane,” Movahedi-Kermani said. “Many of these groups and people abandoned the Imam and went their separate ways after the Revolution.”

Others distanced themselves from Khomeini and “got off the revolutionary train,” he said. They found themselves at odds with Khomeini, who believed in an Islamic theocracy governed by the Sharia law, and promised to root out endemic corruption, the cleric said.

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Movahedi-Kermani, who is also a member of the powerful Assembly of Experts, said: “Reza Khan [Pahlavi] declared war on religion by [passing a law known as Kashf-e Hijab on January 8, 1936] banning the Islamic hijab. I was around 7 or 8 years old. I remember it well. One day, I saw a policeman taking off a woman’s headscarf in the middle of the street and tearing it up. The poor woman was in such a shock. She covered her head with her hands and ran away. I knew several women who did not go to public baths for four years, fearing that policemen would rip off their veil, headscarves, and chador.

“Greedy officials whose sole aim is to amass personal wealth will inflict irreparable damage to the country,” Movahedi-Kermani warned. “Officials who are seduced by a culture sick with greed will abandon and neglect the poor and the disadvantaged segment of Iranian society.”

Four decades after the Revolution, the Islamic Republic is plagued with widespread corruption. The Judiciary has been investigating and prosecuting several cases of financial misconduct by prominent figures in the country, involving billions of dollars.

“History is full of liars who have made promises that they have never kept. They pretend to be compassionate but ultimately do not care about their people. The Pharaoh lied to Egyptians, saying that Moses planned to change their religion,” Movahedi-Kermani noted. “Some candidates who are taking part in the Majlis elections travel through rural areas and villages making empty promises to the residents. Villagers should consult their local cleric or someone else with unquestionable integrity.”

“The Imam did not want all the country’s senior officials to be clerics. He did not want people to think the clergy had engineered the Revolution to fulfill their ambitions,” Movahedi-Kermani noted.

“Mehdi Bazargan, who was in charge of the transition government [in 1979], was a yellowbelly. The next Iranian President Seyyed Abolhassan Banisadr [in office1980-81] betrayed the country. Iranian realized afterwards that the only honest officials were those wearing a turban. I believe it has been God’s will that the clergy should be in charge of the country’s affairs.”

“The prevailing mood in the country was positive and hopeful, despite all the difficulties and hardships we experienced right after the Revolution and during the imposed [Iran-Iraq] War [1980-88],” Movahedi-Kermani added. “Some 98.2 percent of the population voted for the Islamic Republic in the 1979 referendum.”

Movahedi-Kermani lamented: “I do not know what destroyed that positive climate. I wonder if the Imam foresaw these events and changes?”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]