By Moahammad Reza Yazdanpanah
Source: Rooz Online
October 21, 2010
While state-run media are boasting a historic reception for ayatollah Khamenei in his visit to Qom, an informed source who participated in the welcome ceremony told Rooz that the Islamic republic supreme leader’s reception was “much less” than compared to previous visits.
He added that, as it can been seen on numerous official photographs from the ceremony, many of the participants in the ceremony as well as during Mr. Khamanei’s speech were African and Arab immigrants residing in Qom, particularly immigrants from Iraq many of whom are supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite Iraqi cleric currently residing in Qom.
As noted by this informed source, none of the official photographs appearing on state-run media outlets show an aerial view of the street where the welcome ceremony was held. Almost all of the released photographs are taken from close range or with wide camera lenses. The aerial photographs released are taken either from very far away or very close to the ground and do not reveal any conclusive information.
Rooz’s eyewitness source also stated that none of the grand ayatollahs residing in Qom, even those who are known for supporting the Islamic republic supreme leader, attended the welcome ceremony or subsequent meetings with the Islamic republic supreme leader.
Previous reports had revealed intense pressure on grand ayatollahs to coerce them into attending Mr. Khamenei’s welcome ceremony.
Only three out of the ten grand ayatollahs currently residing in Qom made remarks in support of ayatollah Khamenei’s visit. However, neither these three grand ayatollahs nor the remaining seven attended Mr. Khamenei’s welcome ceremony.
One informed source who attended Mr. Khamenei’s welcome ceremony told Rooz, “Yesterday’s reception of Mr. Khamenei was the coldest and least passionate reception of the Islamic republic supreme leader compared to all his previous visits.”
According to him, “At most, thirty to forty thousand people attended the ceremony, which is les than five percent of Qom’s more than one million inhabitants.”
He added, “The planning and intense organizing of Mr. Khamenei’s reception was in effect carried out by three military-security organizations: Jaish al-Mahdi, the Qods Army and Mr. Khamenei’s personal security team.”
While in Qom, the Islamic republic supreme leader delivered a fiery speech, noting, “Last year’s sedition actually vaccinated the country against microbes, which can be political or social microbes,” adding, “The post-election sedition, contrary to the enemy’s expectation, increased the insight of the Iranian people.”
Mr. Khamenei’s office has announced that the supreme leader will visit Qom for nine days. None of the supreme leader’s previous official visits to Qom lasted longer than three days.