As the coronavirus outbreak claims more lives in Iran, the Iranian regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani, announced on Sunday, that all the holy shrines, mosques, Friday prayers sermons and other religious sites will open starting early May.
Like the regime’s criminal decision to send people back to work amid the coronavirus outbreak, reopening religious sites, particularly in the month of Ramadan, will result in more coronavirus cases and casualties.
Rouhani’s own remarks on Sunday contradict his regime’s new decision. Despite saying: “We don’t know when the Coronavirus outbreak will end and …(and that) the burden is almost completely on people’s shoulders,” he added that: In early-May or mid-Ramadan, mosques, religious sites, holy shrines and Friday prayers will reopen per specific protocols in 127 clear (virus-free) areas.
The question is why the regime is trying to do this:
In a nutshell, the regime intends to use religious sites and sermon for political purposes and allow its elements running mosques and shrines to financially take advantage of worshipers at the expense of people’s lives and increasing the coronavirus’ spread.
Since the 1979 anti-monarchic revolution, mosques, religious places, and the holy shrines have been a great source of income for the mullahs’ regime. The regime’s clerics manipulate people and use their religious beliefs, plundering people via taking endowments and Sadaqah. This money is exclusively used by the regime for funding terrorism. Using this method, the regime has been able to create financial empires, such as the Astan-e Quds Razavi, which is one of the most longstanding financial and religious foundations in Iran.
Behzad Nabavi, a government minister in several administrations, said in an interview with the state-run Alef news agency on September 21, 2019: “In our country, there are four institutions which control 60 percent of the national wealth. This includes Executive Headquarters of Imam’s Directive (Setad Ejraie Farman Imam), Khatam-ol–Anbiya Base, Astan-e Quds and Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled. None of these institutions are in connection with the government and parliament.”
In an exclusive report published in November, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) wrote: “AQR manages all the financial endowments accrued over centuries, and the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, appoints its custodian. In the last 40 years, only three individuals have held this position.”
In another part of its report, the NCRI referred to the AQR economic activities and financial independence: “Only the Supreme Leader has the authority to financially audit this financial empire that employs tens of thousands of people. The organization enjoys tax exemption; its assets include 50 large companies and 43 percent of Mashhad real estate, the second-most populous city in Iran. In other words, AQR owns over 13,000 acres of land in Mashhad alone. Yet these endowments are not limited to Mashhad or Khorasan province. Astan-e Quds Razavi has various lands, gardens, wells and aqueducts across Iran; plus 300,000 tenants from Hamadan, East Azerbaijan, Golestan, Gilan to Tehran, Semnan, and Yazd. The estimated value of Astan-e Quds Razavi’s lands is around 20 billion dollars, to say nothing of its other possessions. This organization has full independence in the petroleum operations it controls. It has exclusive oil rigs and profits from its own imports and exports.”
Institutions such as the AQR are being only used to finance terrorism. For instance, a large part of institution’s is dedicated to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) extraterritorial force, the Quds Force and the family members of dead Quds Force terrorists.
Mosques and Friday Prayers Sermons, mullahs’ means of propaganda
For the past four decades, the Iranian regime has been using mosques and Friday prayers sermons to mobilize its forces. The regime considers the Friday prayers sermons as its political and social tribune. The regime is in an unprecedented international isolation, the nationwide Iran protests have shaken its foundations and its imminent downfall is emerging. Therefore, these sermons, especially Friday prayers are a way for the mullahs to boost the morale of their frustrated oppressive forces.
On the other hand, the mosques across Iran, that are mostly the headquarters of paramilitary Basij forces, are centers of espionage and local oppression in different neighborhoods.
This decision will result in the spread of the COVID-19 across Iran and a rise in casualties even among the regime’s forces. The regime is aware of this. The religious fascism ruling Iran is indeed in a deadlock.
The quarantining period in Iran, with the regime refusing to financially support people, was rapidly resulting in an army of hungry people. The regime is terrified of another nationwide uprising like the ones in November 2019, and January 2020 which were triggered because of the economic hardships. Since the regime has always prioritized its security over people’s lives, it has tried to avoid this possibility by sending people back to work and now by opening religious sermons and sites.
Yet, these decisions, which will result in more deaths, increase the people’s abhorrence toward the mullahs’ regime and will certainly result in a popular uprising.
In this regard, the state-run Sharq daily wrote on April 8: “The relationship between the people and government has reached a crucial point. The events of November 2019 and January 2020 (Iran Protests) and the kind of slogans used at the time and the rate of participation in the March elections, along with the international attitude of the U.S. government and targeting the Islamic system’s existence have created a situation that leaving it requires tough decisions.”