Wed, Oct 20, 2010 | By Crethi Plethi
Supreme Leader: Martyrdom Is At The Very Core of Iran’s Identity
The Islamic Republic News Agency reported on wednesday that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that belief in martyrdom and the culture of glorifying status of martyrs is at the very core of Iran’s identity.
The Ayatollah made his remarks on Wednesday in a meeting with the families of the martyrs and the sacred defense veterans in Qom.
It is Khamenei’s third official visit to Qom since his appointment to Supreme Leader in 1989, and his first since 1995.
During the Iran-Iraq war, Iran turned even children into martyrs: 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds. At that time, an Iranian law laid down that children as young as 12 could be used to clear mine fields, even against the objections of their parents. And President Ahmadinejad said during one of his first television interviews, after he was elected in 2005: “Is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of the martyr’s death?” [CrethiPlethi, Oct 27, 2009]
The Supreme Leader noted that this culture of martyrdom inspired the Iranian nation to play an influential role in the world rather than getting affected by the world’s political developments and that the enemies at the present juncture were concentrating on ways to destroy people’s faith but have failed so far and will never succeed either. [IRNA; Oct 20, 2010]
Ayatollah Khamenei further stressed that the great Iranian nation will seriously deal with the enemies’ hegemonism. He also referred to the warm welcome accorded to the Iranian president Ahmadinejad during his visit to Lebanon and said it demonstrated the significance of Iran in the eyes of other nations.
“The devoted and pious Iranian nation is more powerful and more prestigious than any other nations around the globe,” Khamenei said and “the Iranian nation never surrenders and is determined to seriously deal with bullying powers.” [IRNA; Oct 20, 2010]
The Supreme Leader’s visit to the city of Qom comes amidst reports of tensions between government, the reform movement and religious establishment. Top clerics affiliated with the reformist bloc increasingly challenge the Supreme Leader’s leadership and religious authority.
On the eve of the visit, government supporters exerted considerable efforts to have the religious establishment in Qom put on a show of support for Khamenei and his leadership. The official news agency IRNA reported last week that Qom’s residents and religion students were excited and happy about the Supreme Leader’s visit. [IRNA; October 6, 2010]
In recent weeks, top pro-government clerics have also announced their support for Khamenei and his leadership.
Jaras, a website affiliated with reformist opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, reported that Khamenei’s visit to Qom will likely be marred by heightened tensions between top clerics and the authorities over the regime’s attempts to strengthen its hold on the religious seminaries in Qom by placing them under the authority of a council headed by the director of Qom’s religious seminaries, Ayatollah Morteza Moqtada’i, appointed by Khamenei. According to Jaras, some of the council members belong to Iran’s security forces or the Revolutionary Guards. The website reported that several top clerics, including Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpayegani, Ayatollah Hossein Vahid Khorasani, and Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili have been vehemently opposed to the plan to subject the religious seminaries to a government-affiliated council, and called for their independence to be preserved. The website further reported that one of the objectives of the Supreme Leader’s visit to Qom was to obtain the top clerics’ recognition of Khamenei as a “source of emulation.” [Jaras, October 7, 2010; Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Oct 14, 2010]