Powerful Iranian Clergy Group Denounces “Illegitimate” Government

July 5, 2009

(ChattahBox)—In a stunning development in Iranian politics, a powerful group of clerics, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum has issued a scathing statement denouncing the disputed election results and calling the new government illegitimate, a move that openly defies the authority of the Supreme Leader.

According to the New York Times, the powerful group of clerics issued their statement on their website on Saturday, which was also picked up by the Persian BBC.

This statement by the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum reveals evidence of a sharp division within the staunch community of clerics led by the ultimate holy leader, Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The word of the Supreme Leader of the country is supposed to be the final say on all government and holy matters, but the opposing group of clerics is siding with losing presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi and his supporters, calling the election results fraudulent.

The strong statement of this powerful group of clerics comes at a time when Moussavi desperately needs support for his defiance of the election results, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters work overtime to paint Moussavi as traitorous foreign agent, even calling for him to be put on trial.

The Teachers’ group had previously called for a nullification of the election results, but refrained from directly opposing the Supreme Leader. Their latest statement is a surprising direct assault on the Supreme Leader and President Ahmadinejad.

The translated quotes provided in the Times’ piece, also calls on other clerics to join them, which has the makings of an opposition movement to the Supreme Leader’s authority. The group’s statement asked other clerics to save “the dignity that was earned with the blood of tens of thousands of martyrs,” comparing the dozens of protestor deaths to martyrs.

The group’s statement also defied the authority of the powerful Guardian Council, “Is it possible to consider the results of the election as legitimate by merely the validation of the Guardian Council?”

The group further criticized the government leadership for refusing to adequately respond to complaints of voter fraud, harshly decrying the use of force to crack down on public protests.

Will this statement of defiance by a powerful clergy group help plant the seeds of opposition to the iron grip the Supreme Leader holds over Iran? It’s difficult to say.

The Supreme Leader and Ahmadinejad controls and enjoys support from the nation’s powerful security forces and the elite Revolutionary Guards, which can effectively shut down any opposition with arrests and bloodshed.

However, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum holds a powerful symbolic advantage; the highly revered group was founded by the Supreme Leader himself, which has its home in one of the holiest places in Iran, the holy city of Qum, an important religious and political center of power.

The Holy City of Qum, located 96 miles south of Tehran, is populated with mosques and numerous schools of theology, a sort of Vatican City of Iran. It’s a place of pilgrimage by students and political leaders and a recognized seat of the clerics’ power base.

If the Supreme Leader were to attack this group, he would be in effect attacking the very center of all that’s considered holy in Iran

There is a “wishing ditch” in the Holy City of Qum, called “Chahe Jam Karan,” where it’s believed that the twelfth Imam who disappeared thousands of years ago is hiding inside. Many believers make a pilgrimage to Qum to throw a note inside this ditch hoping their wish will come true.

Many of Iranian’s citizens, opposing the government and election results will now be tossing notes into the holy ditch, hoping for a legitimate government allowing greater freedoms.

It will be interesting in the days ahead watching how this rift plays out. Meanwhile, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum and now Mousavvi and his supporters, have the benefit of the powerful imagery of the Holy City of Qum on their side.


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One Response to “Powerful Iranian Clergy Group Denounces “Illegitimate” Government”

  1. Powerful Iranian Clergy Group Denounces “Illegitimate” Government … | Silcon Group on July 5th, 2009 5:15 pm

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