Qom Concerned over New Intelligence Appointments

Hamed Irani

02 Nov 2005

Qom Concerned over New Intelligence Appointments

News sources from Qom report that senior religious clerics in the city have expressed their concerns over the recent radical changes in the Ministries of Intelligence and Interior. The concerns arise from the new appointments made in these agencies from amongst former security officials. Some of the complaints specifically mention middle level directors in the government departments, and particularly in the Intelligence offices. The concerns have come in the forms of letters to the president. But the Interior and Intelligence Ministries have dismissed these concerns and come short of explaining their positions and limiting their responses to formal letters. These have in turn angered the clerics even more. The concerns of the senior Qom clerics are based on what they see as government encroachment into the affairs of the theology schools and teaching centers that have traditionally been independent from the government and even its controls.

It is reported that when president Ahmadinejad recently paid a visit to Qom, he requested to meet some of the ayatollahs and was specifically turned down by at least one of them, Ayatollah Behjat whom he managed to see just for a few minutes after a prayer. This is in contrast to the relationship that former president Khatami enjoyed with Behjat who congratulated the new president immediately after his election victory and adopted a supportive role for him.

A conspicuous characteristic of Qom is the presence a large number of high level clerics with differing views and perspectives. Despite difference in their views and beliefs, ranging from those of Ayatollah Montazeri to Makarem Shirazi, Qom clerics and religious leaders display high sensitivity over their sovereignty and do not tolerate interference from the governments, especially if these violate their independence.

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