Friday Prayers across Iran: Salaries, regional developments, and the nuclear deal
(Mourning ceremony in Tehran's Friday prayers on the martyrdom anniversary of the sixth Shia imam, Sadiq. Source: Arash Mirsepasi/YJC)
This week, Friday prayers' leaders across Iran focused on the controversial generous salaries received by government officials, developments in Bahrain, and the nuclear deal.
In Tehran, Ayatollah Kazem Seddighi called for trial of white-collar officials accused of receiving hefty salaries, and for reimbursement of the salaries –paid from public funds. Seddighi added that pocketing public money does not live up to the reputation of the Islamic Republic. "It is unacceptable that some are lifting money from the public funds while a large number of people are struggling with various [financial] challenges" he said.
Friday prayers' sermonizers of this week paid special attention to regional developments, particularly the recent developments in Bahrain and the trial of Shia leader Sheikh Isa Qassim on charges of money laundering –an allegation that has raised strong protest and sit-ins by the majority Shia community in this tiny Persian Gulf island. "In Bahrain, we are witnessing the worst treatment of the youth and people who are neither armed nor have set any place on fire" said Kazem Seddighi. Tehran's Friday prayers' sermonizer also slammed revoking of Sheikh Isa's citizenship, calling it a move against international law and Islam. "The Al Khalifah regime is digging its own grave" he asserted.
In Semnan, northern Iran, Ayatollah Shahcheraghi also slammed the royal family in Bahrain, calling them "servants of the US and Israel". Addressing popular protests in response to trial of Sheikh Isa Qassim, Seyyed Mohammad Shahcheraghi said that in Bahrain "it is not the government, but the people who have the final say" in politics. In Ahwaz, center of the southwestern Khuzestan Province, Ayatollah Jazayeri warned about the consequences of trying the Bahraini Shia leader, calling it "an insult to Islam". Meanwhile, in Qazvin, northwestern Iran, Friday prayers' sermonizer Abdul Karim Abedini compared Sheikh Isa's situation to that of Islamic Revolution leader Ayatollah Khomeini and predicted a popular uprising in Bahrain.
In Qazvin, Abdul Karim Abedini continued his JCPOA-bashing this week. "Those who promised that the nuclear deal will transform your lives are people who do not want to see you achieve any good" he said, in a thinly-veiled reference to President Rouhani and other supporters of the nuclear deal. JCPOA "is an instrument for sedition and infiltration by the enemy" he said, and for gaining votes in the next presidential election. In Tabriz, center of Eastern Azerbaijan province, Ayatollah Shabestari criticized Obama for his claims of shutting down "Iran’s nuclear weapons program". "Iran's nuclear program was not weaponized" said Shabestari, adding that suspension of some parts of the program were temporary and would be resumed in full force if European [sic] countries fail to fulfill their promises.