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IRAN: Khamenei’s Friday Prayer Leaders Desperately Deny Undeniable Facts

Food prices are increasing in Iran, and so do protests across the country. Videos obtained by the Iranian opposition confirm the escalating unrest in the country. Since the November 2019 uprising, Iranian streets have become flashpoints for demonstrations.

Iran has experienced its worst economic crunch in the past century, and people cannot afford a meager living. In the past few months, Iranian cities have witnessed thousands of protests of different scales, with people demanding their rights and underlining that “only on the streets we can achieve our rights.”

But the protests that broke out a week ago in different cities are the broadest display of an economy in ruins, a volatile society, and a desperate regime that gives bullets and tear gas to people who want food and water.

Yet, it would be parochial to say protests in Iran merely have economic roots. The regime’s decades-long oppression has turned Iran’s society into a powder keg.

The current situation in Iran has indeed frightened the regime officials and state media, who use every opportunity to warn about an uprising, intimidate people, demonize the opposition, and partially acknowledge the country’s economic woes.

Ahmad Khatami, Tehran’s Friday Prayer leader, acknowledged Iran’s economic crisis but brazenly blamed the monarchy.

“Our country’s economy is sick, but this has not happened overnight,” Ahmad Khatami said. “It started before the 1979 revolution. Our officials have tried vigorously to address these issues, but sometimes they have failed!”

The Shah’s regime was indeed a corrupt dictatorship that seriously damaged Iran, but one cannot forget that the mullahs’ regime has been in power for four consecutive decades.  The regime has harshly oppressed and unscrupulously plundered the national wealth. The regime’s so-called economic efforts have not exceeded bogus claims.

The regime’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini promised free electricity and water, and the new president Ebrahim Raisi talked of eradicating poverty in two weeks. Perhaps these bogus claims could be considered financial efforts!

“One cannot stand idly by or think that problems will be solved by silence and denial,” the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily acknowledged on May 14.

“This situation, of course, will challenge Raisi’s government more than the people because this government promised to eradicate poverty, and having high prices is supposed to be its red line. We are in a dire situation,” the paper adds.

“Iran’s economy has been operated three times by three different presidents. We are now experiencing the highest inflation rate in the last few years. Iran’s economy is neither capitalist nor communist or Islamic. It is based on plunder and looting,” Mohammad Taghi Fazel Meiboadi, one of the regime’s top clerics, acknowledged on Friday.

During his Friday prayer sermon, Mohammad Baqer Mohammadi Laini, the Supreme Leader’s representative in Sari, northern Iran, said: “Iran’s economy needs to recover from this situation, and therefore, surgery is needed. But some initial tensions, which are fueled mostly by the enemies inside and outside the country, may cause problems. To succeed, we must help this government and this plan, which is supported by all three branches and the Supreme Leader.”

“Some rioters from outside and inside the country want to take advantage of this opportunity,” Laini added, blasting the people and supporters of Iran’s main opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) as rioters.

“They want to repeat the sedition of 2009 and 2019 on the streets. The people should beware of accompanying them. People must fight these elements alongside the security forces.”

Warning that sharing the messages and footage sent from the MEK will have consequences, the Supreme Leader’s representative said: “By sharing video clips and messages, you are implicit in replication and sharing; you are ruining minds. So, when you receive negative video clips on your mobile phone or your smartphone… when you receive these negative messages from the enemies and the hypocrites (the regime’s pejorative term for the MEK), you either should stop reading them or if you do read them, you must not send them to others!”

Laini’s fellow Friday prayer leaders regurgitated the exact words and allegations about the MEK. The Friday prayer leaders in Iran are directly appointed by the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and they rehash his positions and unwittingly his fears!

“The MEK had a strong network, and I dealt with that. But we arrested many of them. We should help one another. The enemy [MEK] tries to instigate riots. We shall overcome this crisis together. But you shouldn’t listen to the enemy!” Yusef Tabatabienejad, Khamenei’s representative in Isfahan, said on Friday, as quoted by Iran’s state TV.

“We should be vigilant. The [MEK] is willing to provoke people and is active on social media. They are trying to instigate unrest and spread fake news that people do not have anything to eat,” Ahmadreza Shahrokhi, Khoramabad’s Friday prayer leader, said.

The regime’s worn-out tactics and its denial of the undeniable facts no longer works. What is more, the rapid spread of protests across the country displays the regime’s failure to tamp down a looming uprising, much greater than the one in 2019 that rocked the regime to its core.

It is safe to say that Iran’s ruling theocracy, with the ongoing protests in Iran and the role of the organized opposition, can no longer find a port in the storm.