Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Iranian clerics face a backlash over good life

Iranian clerics face a backlash over good life

Author: Kay Biouki in Teheran and Gethin Chamberlain
Publication: Telegraph, UK
Date: February 26, 2008
URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/02/24/wiran124.xml

The Ayatollah Khomenei brought millions on to the streets of Iran to overthrow the decadence of the Shah. Now the late leader's grandsons and other Iranian clerics face a backlash over their families' fondness for fast cars, big houses and hot tubs.

A website linked to radical elements of Iran's regime last week attacked the lifestyle of Ayatollah Khomenei's grandson, Hassan. " Driving a $100,000 BMW and relaxing in his uptown villa in north Teheran, is Hassan Khomenei actually following the footsteps of his grandfather in caring much for the poor, with the hot bubbles that come out of his steaming Jacuzzi" the Nosazi website asked.

The criticism reflects a growing resentment of the wealth accumulated by some of the religious leaders who took power after 1979.

Some run profitable businesses as near monopolies: one imports cigarettes, two are involved in the oil trade and another is reported to benefit from foreign currency fluctuations, because he has first-hand information on the rate of exchange.

One ayatollah imported so much sugar last year that Iran's domestic production was affected and sugar plants were forced out of business.

With parliamentary elections scheduled for March 14, the clerics' purported excesses have provided political opponents, particularly the radical Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, with an opportunity to seize the moral high ground.

Iran's constitution forbids the guards from getting involved in politics but their leaders are reported to be angered over the way some ayatollahs or their families have grown rich on the back of the revolution.

Iran's current supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, has avoided criticism by leading a simple life. Critics suspect that the attacks on other clerics are part of a campaign to eliminate domestic opposition to his rule.

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