Rouhani seeks clergy support in Iran’s holy city

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as decision time looms for a nuclear deal with world powers, seeks to win the support of the religious community at the “backbone” of the Islamic republic.

“For the government and the people of Iran, Qom is not a city, but the symbol of religious life,” Rouhani, who faces criticism on the home front, says in a speech in the Shiite holy city.

Iranian women queue to cast their ballot for the parliamentary elections at Masoumeh shrine in the city of Qom, Iran, on Friday, March 2, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Kamran Jebreili)
Iranian women queue to cast their ballot for the parliamentary elections at Masoumeh shrine in the city of Qom, Iran, on Friday, March 2, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Kamran Jebreili)

At the heart of the Shia faith in Iran, Qom’s seminary hosts about 80,000 religious students, some from abroad.

“I want to make clear that the government needs Qom” with its clergy forming the “backbone” of Iran, he said, stressing the seminary’s independence would “never be compromised under the banner of a policy, a party or faction.”

The timing of his Qom visit, as nuclear negotiations enter the final stage, “can be seen as an effort to gain the support of religious leaders for a possible agreement”, reformist daily Shargh says.

— AFP

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