In the ninth decade of his life, Ahmad Jannati, the all-powerful overseer of elections in Iran and a regular speaker of Tehran Friday prayers, has kept up his morals and his optimism and remains committed to his trademark style of speech. Every Friday prayers sermon of the ayatollah receives attention in the foreign media. Ahmad Jannati expresses his opinions explicitly and unabashedly, and tries not to leave a tad of ambiguity about his standpoint and his fortress, the Guardian Council.
Jannati has been a permanent target of rumors –and insults- by the counterrevolution media; all of which have failed to push the ayatollah even one step back. Interestingly, he has never sued any media for their criticisms. The chairman of the Guardian Council is a devoted champion of the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution; particularly ‘exporting the Revolution’. Once a zealous a young revolutionary, Ahmad Jannati, one who has always been a proponent of the Islamic Revolution’s international agenda, continues to be a nemesis for the counterrevolutionary.
Exporting the revolution, viewing the Muslim nations as a united ummah, the orthodox revolutionary “Neither East, Nor West” policy –in brief, devotion to tenets of Islamic rule- have been the building blocks of Jannati’s discourse. Even the most turbulent political developments of the country cannot divert his attention from his major concerns. He may talk about less abstract issues such as women’s appearance in public, but even these types of socio-cultural comments or his (untimely) remarks about elections stem from his general outlook. Jannati warns about economic problems or the hejab, etc. only when he senses these phenomena are affecting his principles.
Taxonomically, Ahmad Jannati can be viewed as a bona fide traditional Principlist. His measuring tools do not change and he follows a clear line. It is no surprise that the Western media follow his remarks closely; and it is not surprising that he is a regular leader of Tehran's Friday prayers. The Guardian Council Chairman is one of the leading ideologues of the Islamic Republic-- or at least a symbol of its ideology.
Knowing Jannati –which is not a complicated task- facilitates knowing the Islamic Republic’s worldview. His moves are largely predictable. We know that he will not criticize the government’s problem with extracting payments from India for oil purchases, but he will indeed criticize its media coverage. The murder of a young student in northern Tehran -which created a media storm inside the country- will not concern him, but a pro-Hejab rally held after the Friday prayers does. On the same day, he addresses the situation in Bahrain, slams the crackdown on protestors and says, “day by day, the number of prisoners increases. University scholars and doctors are fired from work. The world has lost its dignity [for not responding to the situation in Bahrain]. What are the Bahrainis demanding? Their slogan is “every citizen a vote.” Why should they be killed for it? The national reconciliation forum is a ruse. Such plans have no advantage.” And then there is the climax of his Friday prayers speech: “Bahrain must be conquered by Islam and Muslims, and the day must come when Islam rules Bahrain.”