By Potkin Azarmehr
Speculation mounted in Iran on February 11, when Ayatollah Jazayeri, the Friday Prayer leader for Ahvaz in Iran’s southwestern oil-rich province of Khuzestan, was not seen in the official rally to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Rumors circulating suggested that he was dead or had gone to the UK for medical treatment but official newspapers in Iran reacted quickly to the suggestions with one media outlet saying, “Ayatollah Jazayeri is in perfect health and is currently in England helping to spread the goals of the Islamic revolution there.”
Ayatollah Jazayeri was in fact in Manchester, attending special programs organized by the Manchester Islamic Centre, which is the Supreme Leader’s representative office in the region.
So who is Ayatollah Jazayeri and why are the UK authorities allowing him to enter Britain in order to “help spread the goals of the Islamic revolution?”.
Iran’s Friday Prayer leaders are not just religious figures, they are appointees and representatives of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei.
Every Friday prayer sermon has two parts, a religious segment and a political segment. If you want to know where the Supreme Leader stands on current affairs and what he thinks, all anyone needs to do is to listen to the political sermon of the Friday Prayer leaders.
Ayatollah Jazayeri is one of the pillars of the Islamic revolution in Iran. He was an early adherent of Ayatollah Khomeini and one of his foot soldiers to lead the Islamic revolution in Iran. In 1979 he went to Paris via London to meet Khomeini and receive instructions on how to organise protests to overthrow the Shah.
He has also been a fixed member of the Assembly of Experts, a rubber stamp body (of which all but one of its members are clerics) for the wishes of the Supreme Leader. Members of this council all require the approval of the Supreme Leader himself. Unsurprisingly the Assembly of Experts has never challenged the Supreme Leader’s rulings.
According to information published by the Manchester Islamic Centre, Ayatollah Jazayeri was giving lectures there on February 7 and 8, and most likely also took part in their celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
Information published on his own website says he is a staunch supporter of the compulsory veil for women. On March 9, last year along with other Friday Prayer leaders who sternly warned about any relaxation on forcing the veil on women, he said, “If we give in to those who call for voluntary wearing of the veil today, tomorrow they will ask us to allow wine and other things”. He then continued addressing the congregation: “Did you bring about an Islamic revolution or a democratic revolution? When you sent your children to the front line, was it for Islam or was it for Liberalism?”
Whenever Iran-backed Hezbollah causes casualties, Ayatollah Jazayeri is often one of the first to offer his condolences. Part of his letter to Hassan Nasrollah, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, outlines his views on Hezbollah’s activities:
“I thank God for the joys of martyrdom that was chosen for these sons of Hezbollah, and the torment and humiliation for their enemies the infidel Zionists and their treacherous lackeys.”
Nasrollah and Ayatollah Jazayeri have held several meetings together.
Jazayeri also supports Iran’s military presence in Syria, telling an Iranian media outlet in 2013:
“We will enter the battlefields of Syria with our hearts and souls to pay our debt to Islam.”
His support for Bashar’s Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah sits in contrast with his efforts as the Supreme Leader’s representative for the Iranian province of Khuzestan. Under his tenure Iran’s oil rich province has faced decay and ruin. Its cities suffer with some of the worst air pollution on record in Iran. Air pollution in Ahvaz has been reported to be 60 times higher than levels deemed to be safe.
With Iran’s help and financial support, Hezbollah managed to rebuild its towns after the 33 day war with Israel, but the border town of Khorramshahr in Khuzestan Province which put up the most heroic resistance to Saddam Hussein’s invasion and fought his Baathist forces is still in ruins three decades later. A significant amount of aid was given by ordinary Iranians to help rebuild Khorramshahr but the funds were misappropriated by the Ayatollah and his supporters.
It is surprising that UK officials have not banned Ayatollah Jazayeri from coming to England. His ideals in the name of the Islamic revolution have brought about destruction, bloodshed, corruption and despotism in Iran.