The Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's official website has launched a new portlet to raise funds to help those who have been hit by COVID-19.
The website accepts cash donations under the tabs "religious funds" from people who want to atone their sins for missing prayers or fasting obligations during Ramadan. Now it has added a drop-down menu which includes a new item for donations to help families affected by COVID-19.
"Religious funds" are financial resources at the disposal of high-ranking Shiite clerics in Iran and any sum paid into the funds can be deducted from the donor's taxes.
Although this new tab has been added recently, the website has not been observed to present any report on the amount of the money raised and the way it is being spent.
During the past weeks, many critics in Iran and abroad have asked why funds at the disposal of Khamenei's financial empire has not been spent to aid coronavirus victims or to provide medical and protective equipment.
On March 30, in response to Iranian Foreign Minister's calls for lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran to help the country meet its medical needs during the COVID-19 Outbreak, the U.S. Department of State's Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus suggested that Iran can use the funds at the disposal of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
A day earlier, a reformist member of the Iranian parliament, Mostafa Kavakebian had also demanded that the financial organizations under the Khamenei’s aegis contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts.
The amount of small donations collected by the website (leader.ir) can be an indication of popular support for Khamenei if Khamenei's office ever makes information about the fund raising public.