Power struggle further escalates among Iran's clerics
Qom's clergymen distance themselves from Khamenei

Mullah Ibrahim Amini, one of Khamenei's associates and the deputy head of the Assembly of Experts, rejected Khamenei's religious credentials.

Speaking during the Friday prayers in the city of Qom, Amini briefly reviewed the events leading to Khamenei's election as the vali-e faqih (the supreme leader). Acknowledging that Khamenei did not meet the criteria to be the MarjaÕ (a source of emulation), he asserted that the vali-e faqih need not be a Marja'.

Recalling the circumstances after KhomeiniÕs death, he said, with a condescending tone, that the Assembly of Experts concluded that "This one [Khamenei] did have the minimum knowledge of religion."

On the same day, Hashemi Rafsanjani rejected Khamenei's religious qualifications during TehranÕs Friday prayers. A week before, during the Friday prayers of Qom, mullah Ali Meshkini, the head of the Assembly of Experts, had said the same thing.

In another part of his sermon, Amini pleaded with Montazeri as some one who had "a significant role in the founding of the regime" to stop opposing Khamenei for the "sake of the state" and "to safeguard Islam and Quran."

Amini's remarks reflect the mullahs' fear of the growing tide of opposition to Khamenei, particularly among clergymen and theology students, which has rendered the regime extremely vulnerable.

Reports from Iran say that in response to Khamenei's threats, in a strongly-worded, open letter on November 27, mullah Ahmad Azari Qomi said that he was prepared for a "fair" trial. He wrote that he had done nothing wrong and challenged the mullahs' leader to put him on trial if his regime had the power to do so.

In his previous letters, Azari Qomi had accused Khamenei of ordering the torture and execution of innocent people and of usurping the velayat-e faqih.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
November 30, 1997

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