By Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah
October 21, 2010
At the end of the second day of ayatollah Khamenei’s visit to Qom, some clerical leaders and senior ayatollah’s visited the office of Iran’s leader in this holy city and held discussions with him. While the official news site of the leader of the Islamic republic wrote that Jaafar Sobhani, Makarem Shirazi and Shobeiri Zanjani were the three clerics who along with other “teachers and clerics of Qom Theological Center” visited Khamenei on his second day in the city, semi-state Fars news agency reported that in addition to the three clerics mentioned above, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, Ibrahim Amini, seyed Ahmadi Khatami and Abbas Kaabi also met with the Khamenei.
Neither the news website of ayatollah Khamenei’s office nor Iran’s official radio and television network, along with other official news agencies, have reported on the contents of these meetings. But an analysis of the photos and images from the meetings, it is clear that these engagements were public with no private meetings between Khamenei and the senior clerics.
In the absence of such news, it is not clear what discussions may have been held between the clerics and the leader. All that has been reported is that the exchanges between them were confined to pleasantries and formalities, commonly known as taarofate akhoondi,” i.e., clerical pleasantries, in Persian.
Meeting with the Critical Clerics
On the fist night of ayatollah Khamenei’s visit to Qom, two senior clerics ayatollahs Noori Hamedani and Javad Amoli, met with the regime’s leader. But as in the earlier visits and meetings till now, no press releases or any news coverage of the contents of these meetings have emerged or been provided to the media. It should be noted that some of the senior clerics who did meet ayatollah Khamenei are known to be critical of the policies and practices of the regime, particularly post-2009-election.
Ayatollah seyed Mousa Shobeiri Zanjani is the most prominent cleric critical of the regime residing in Qom and he did meet with ayatollah Khamenei on Wednesday. It should be noted that Shobeiri Zanjani was elevated to his senior position in 1993 after ayatollah Araki died, putting him at the level of the other six Shiite grand ayatollahs. But despite this senior cleric’s criticism of the regime’s policies and the behavior of its senior leaders, a view he acquired because of the influence of Najaf’s (in Iraq) interpretation of Shia Islam and the views of senior ayatollah Abolghasem Khoi, he enjoys extraordinary respect in Khamenei’s office and household because he happens to be the teacher of the leader’s three sons.
It is because of this proximity that ayatollah Shobeiri Zanjani played a successful role in ending the official cordoning of the late ayatollah Montazeri’s residence. In his 777-page memoirs, Montazeri references a letter that ayatollah Zanjani had written and sent to ayatollah Khamenei protesting the blocking of his (Montazeri’s) house.
Following the announcement of the June 2009 presidential election results, which led to massive, popular and unprecedented protests in the Islamic republic, followed by a violent government crackdown, ayatollah Shobeiri Zanjani engaged in extensive consultations with other senior ayatollahs in Qom and Najaf, including ayatollah Sistani (in Iraq), ayatollah Safi Golpaygani, ayatollah Montazeri and ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili with the purpose of ending the crisis that had erupted after the 2009 election. It is also reported that he wrote two strongly worded protest letters to ayatollah Khamenei in which he strongly criticized the oppressive tactics used by the security and military forces of the Islamic republic under his command.
At that time, Moj Sabz Azadi website wrote that during a meeting with ayatollah Safi Golpaygani, ayatollah Shobeiri Zanjani had even fallen into tears because of his unhappiness with the way protestors and people were killed in the streets after the elections. He is among those clerics who believed in ayatollah Montazeri’s views and following the latter’s death last year, conducted special prayers at his memorial. In the photographs that have been published on Khamenei’s current meetings with senior clerics in Qom, ayatollah Shobeiri Zanjani appears furthest from ayatollah Khamenei and at the end of a line of people.
Three Resigned Friday Prayer Leaders
Ayatollah Javadi Amoli and ayatollah Ibrahim Amini are also two senior clerics who after the official announcement of last year’s presidential election in which Ahmadinejad was announced as the winner, took a critical position on the post-election behavior of the regime, both of whom resigned from their Friday leader position in Qom after holding those posts for years.
After ayatollah Montazeri’s death last year, Najaf-born ayatollah Amini campaigned vigorously with senior and influential government authorities to calm down the memorial and burial ceremonies of Montazeri.
Ayatollah Reza Ostadi is another resigned Friday prayer leader of Qom who like ayatollah Amini and Javadi Amoli is a senior member of the Qom Seminary Teachers Association who supported Mohsen Rezai’s presidential bid in 2005. He met with ayatollah Khamenei on the latter’s current visit to Qom.
Khamenei: Martyrdom is an Established Issue for Iranians
Aside the absence of any published news on the contents of the meetings that ayatollah Khamenei has had with the senior clerics in Qom, the leader delivered a speech to the family members of martyrs and war veterans. According to the official news site of the office of ayatollah Khamenei, the leader praised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent trip to Lebanon. He said the people’s welcome of Ahmadinejad was “enthusiastic and extensive,” and also “worthy of review and analysis.”
According to Khamenei, “These realities” are indicative of the attraction and grandeur of the Iranian nation in the eyes of the nations of the world.”
The leader of the Islamic regime also asserted that the issue of martyrdom had been settled and clear for the Iranian nation, adding, “We must ponder about this central question that why has the Iranian nation become so popular in the eyes of nations and also so influential in the various events of the world while it lacks the complex and advanced military and propaganda instruments.”
He mentioned the “numerous” plots of the enemy against the Iranian people after the death of ayatollah Khomeini and said, “Opponents of the Iranian nation have got nothing other than failure through those plots and from now on too will not attain any [positive] results.”
Ayatollah Khamenei’s visit to Qom has been announced to take nine days.
Meeting With Foreigners
Unofficial news reports wrote that the German parliamentary delegation that is currently visiting the Islamic republic to consult with them over the release of two German reporters held in Iran secretly met ayatollah Khamenei in Qom.
While this delegation’s visit of Qom and meetings with some clerics in the city have been confirmed, no confirmation has come to support the assertion that the German group met with ayatollah Khamenei as well.
While Iranian news sources had reported earlier that visiting Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had also met with ayatollah Khamenei on Wednesday, this visit of Qom never took place and Chavez was seen off in Tehran by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and flew to Damascus, Syria.