President Ahmadinejad is today signed in formally as President of Iran, for a new four year term, in a public ceremony. But yesterday, in a second ceremony only broadcast on state television, the President was officially blessed by the Supreme Leader. The ceremony has attracted attention largely because it was boycotted by the three major opposition figures in Iranian politics — opposition leader Mousavi, along with two former Presidents, Rafsanjani and Khatami. Behind this, however, lies a deeper split: between the senior clerics in the regime, and the senior clerics outside it who are increasingly critical of a regime whose religious purity they see as being tarnished by the compromises of power.
Its a theme examined in a piece from Christopher De Bellaigue, who reports for Prospect from Iran. Christopher writes: “According to a common complaint, the clerical class has been trivialised by political leadership, with the popular esteem it once enjoyed tarnished by engagement with Iran’s corrupt and inefficient economy. Some popular films in Iran incorporate a new archetype: the unloved mullah, mocked by the people he is supposed to be serving.” And behind this, lies a set of problems which lead most Mullahs to support the opposition in the elections, and which questions the foundations of the Islamic Republic itself. Christopher’s piece is being made free to read on our website today, here.