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Sunday, July 05, 2009
Not over yet

A very interesting development in Iran, as the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, a very important group of religious leaders in Iran, referred to the Ahmadinejad government as illegitimate.

Since the election June 12th, the most of the clerical establishment in the holy city of Qum, Iran's religious and political center of power, has remained largely silent. Many have wondered when, or if, the nation’s most powerful religious leaders would wade into the controversy that has created the most serious threat to the country’s leadership since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The answer, on Saturday, was clear: They are on the side of the opposition reform movement.

The Association, which did not back a candidate in the election, had asked, before the recount, for the election results to be nullified, since so many Iranians were doubtful of the legitimacy. The statement does help Mir Hussein Moussavi, as well as, Khatami and former speaker of Parliament, Mehdi Karroubi, who have been out front of the movement calling the election illegitimate and who have seen their supporters harassed, beaten, jailed and killed.

The bad news, however, is that many of the seminaries in Qum are directly funded by the Iranian government, and Khameini and Ahmadinejad are not without their own powerful supporters in the city. Pressure could easily be brought to bear.

Still, the statement is straightforward. In one passage, it reads:

“Is it possible to consider the results of the election as legitimate by merely the validation of the Guardian Council?”

The director of Iranian Studies at Stanford, Abbas Milani, added,

“I don’t ever remember in the 20 years of Khamenei’s rule where he was clearly and categorically on one side and so many clergy were on the other side. This might embolden other clergy to come forward.

“This crack in the clerical establishment, and the fact they are siding with the people and Moussavi, in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic. Remember, they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei.”

If the clergy turns on Khameini and Ahmadinejad, anything could happen...

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posted at 12:03 AM

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