Ayatollah Sedighi, a Friday prayer Imam in Tehran

Iran's Top Clerics, Police Dismiss Protests, As Unrest Continues

Saturday, 10/08/2022

Iran's top clerics, police chiefs and Friday imams spurned nationwide protests and attributed the ongoing uprising to foreign countries and economic problems.

During a meeting with Iran's Police Chief Hossein Ashtari in Qom on Friday, hardline Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi said the protests were the outcome of financial problems, people's access to social media and the intervention of foreign powers. He added that protests are likely to continue as long as these three elements exist.

Meanwhile, the ayatollah, who has been previously implicated in financial corruption cases, thanked the police for suppressing the protests.

Reports from Iran say the police chief has told the ayatollahs in Qom that the so-called morality police will resume its activities in November. The 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death in custody of the morality police in mid-September triggered the protests that are continuing in Iran for the third consecutive week and have turned into a nationwide uprising.

In another development, while all the footage on social media show the police and Basij militia firing shotguns at people at close range, Police Chief Hossein Ashtari claimed before the Friday prayers in Tehran that security forces have been using only plastic bullets. Meanwhile, he claimed that the police has arrested 17 protesters who were armed with combat weapons.

Iran's police chief Hossein Ashtari

However, he confirmed that the police use live combat ammunitions while defending their headquarters. He further claimed that the police had done nothing wrong in the episode during which Mahsa Amini was killed. Ashtari further blamed foreign countries particularly the United States and Israel, monarchists and the Iranian opposition for engineering the protests. These are the usual suspects Iranian authorities blame for every problem from COVID-19 to the Iranian youths' disillusionment.

Former intelligence minister Ghorban Ali Dorri Najafabadi, who also made exactly the same accusations, also added that authorities were able to suppress and end the protests. While large street demonstrations have decreased since October 2, smaller manifestations, strikes and civil disobedience continue in many cities.

Friday prayer imams also continued their usual disinformation and misinformation about the nationwide protests. Kazem Sedighi, the Friday Imam in Tehran also blamed the United States and Israel for the nationwide uprising. He also charged some other regional states with instigating havoc in Iran. He said the protests were the work of infidels and imperialists. This comes while in recent days school children in Iran were most active in the uprising and the regime's security forces have killed at least 6 of them and claimed that they died in various accidents.

The imam in Qom, Alireza Arafi and the Friday prayers imam of Isfahan Abolhasan Mahdavi also blamed foreign-based Persian media as well as foreign countries as the main culprits behind the uprising. The Imam in Mashhad, the firebrand Ahmad Alamolhoda, however, as usual blamed Iranian women for every problem in the country and opined that "bad-hijab women give way to widespread promiscuity, abnormal sexual tendencies and Satanic liberties."

He charged that "the enemy which is against Iran's power and progress in technology, is behind the sedition that propagates the idea of doing away with hijab as a prelude to uprooting Islam in Iran."

It is hard to judge whether the Iranian clerics are truly overwhelmed by illusions and conspiracy theories, or they know the truth, but simply try to protect the establishment that feeds them and provides them with large financial resources they could not otherwise have.

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