Iran’s firebrand Prayer Imams avoided mentioning a sexual scandal by a local hijab enforcement official in Friday sermons or address worsening economic conditions.

Instead, they talked about seemingly unrelated and misplaced issues, while many of their rank and file complain that the social status of the Shiite clergy is declining among ordinary people.

The man who grabbed the public’s attention this week was a hardliner official in the northern Gilan Province, who is married but had sex with a young man. The news immediately went viral after damning videos were leaked on social media.

Homosexuality is a serious crime in the Islamic Republic, and more so in this case when the man was married and was supposed to be a gatekeeper for morality.

He was the director general for Cultural and Islamic Guidance and was removed from his post with unusual speed, unseen in Iran when officials are cut red-handed. The fiasco happened at the worst possible time during the Muharram public mourning ceremonies to mark the the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the third Imam of the Shiite sect, 1,400 years ago.

Out of the blue, the Imam in Tehran, Ahmad Khatami, said some people believe the money spent on an Islamic festival in Tehran should have been used for taking care of an endangered species of Iranian cheetahs. This had very little to do with the pressing concerns of ordinary people, hit by a 70-percent annual inflation rate, and seemed a bad improvisation to fill the clerics sermon.

In another comment which made sense only in relation to the new round of violent crackdown on Iranian women defying the compulsory hijab, Khatami said those who come out of their houses without wearing headscarf are sick.

He further charged that women without hijab are backward and mentally retarded. In recent days, courts in Tehran have sentenced several movie starts who had appeared in public without headscarves to taking part in counselling sessions and presenting a certificate of mental health to the court.

In another part of his sermon, Khatami said that Muslim nations will make the government of Sweden repent for authorizing the burning of the Quran. Meanwhile, he thanked the government of Iraq, where the protesters had attacked the Swedish embassy, for deporting Sweden’s ambassador.

In another development, the Imam in Mashhad, Ahmad Alamolhoda said without presenting any evidence that “the enemies” wish to suppress the clerics who rely on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He further claimed that to do so, the enemies use all powers and means at their disposal.

Regime officials and loyalists use the term “enemies” to refer to the United States and its allies. Similar unfounded statements are made by other clerics and officials who think that Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei likes to bash “the enemies.”

Alamolhoda, who was the main culprit in a recently disclosed corruption case covered by the Iranian media abroad, presumably made the comment to clear himself of the charges of corruption and to reassure Khamenei that he is the leader’s obedient servant in the religious city. It should be noted that the cleric is the father-in-law of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Ironically, on the same date that the Friday Imams made those statements, conservative news website Tabnak called on the country’s leaders to bar state officials and clerics from taking advantage of religious values and symbols. Alluding to the scandal in Gilan Province, Tabnak asked in an article on Friday: “How can we justify the behavior of a state official who introduces himself as a ‘servant of Imam Hussain’ and all of a sudden a leaked video on social media reveals his ethical corruption?” The website added, “Iran’s government is a religious government. State officials pretend in public to be devoted to religious values, but some of them take advantage of this. But when these individuals are involved in a scandal the people find out what kind of a monster they were dealing with. As a result, the people are shocked and subsequently become indifferent toward sacred values.”

Source » iranintl