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Comparing Current Iran With Shah’s Era Is ‘Shameless', Says Cleric

Iranian hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami delivers his sermon during Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, January 5, 2018.

Tehran’s firebrand Friday Prayer leader has lambasted those who compare today’s Iran with the period that Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi reigned over the country.

It is “very impudent” to compare today’s Iran with the life under the monarchy, said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami.

In a meeting with Friday Prayer leaders and city officials of Abarkooh, Yazd Province, the mid-ranking cleric said, “It is very shameless that as soon as a social problem emerges a number of people instantly begin comparing our present situation with that during the Shah’s time, insisting that such problems were nonexistent at the time of the ‘damned Shah.’”

However, in his own attempt to compare the two eras, Khatami maintained, “During the accursed Shah’s reign, religion was absent from the layers of sovereignty, independence, and freedom of the country. Iran was the U.S.’s slave then, and oppression was dominant in the country.”

Khatami’s comments come at a time when slogans supporting the Shah’s regime are still echoing from the widespread protests that took place across Iran this winter.

In a series of protests and rallies that broke out on December 28 and soon spread to more that 100 cities across Iran, many demonstrators voiced support for the monarchy and expressed regret for taking part in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that led to Pahlavi’s downfall, ending 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran.

More recently the steep decline in the value of the Iranian currency has once again brought up comparisons with the economic situation before the revolution. During most of Mohammad Reza Shah's reign, one U.S. dollar bought around 70 rials, while now the rial has fallen close to 60,000 against the dollar.

People make these comparisons on social media and mock the Islamic Republic for its economic mismanagement and corruption. This clearly unnerves the clerical rulers who occasionally try to respond to popular criticism.

This is why Khatami in his speech mainly notes the predominance of religion as a major difference with the shah's regime, because it is hard to make any arguments on economic grounds.