Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Politics or corruption?

Do the events reported here tell us about politics in Iran or about corruption or both? It seems to me that those interpretations are reasonable. Organizing hajj trips sounds like grand opportunities for handling lots of other people's money.

Iranian Leader Is Scolded on Removal of Official

Iran’s supreme religious leader publicly rebuked the country’s president on Monday over his removal of an official who organizes the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The rare show of discontent by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued in the Iranian news media on Monday, raised questions about whether the ayatollah was backing away from his support of the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the June 12 elections...

Saeed Leilaz, an economist and political commentator in Tehran, called the rebuke “unprecedented.”

The dispute began last month when Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government put the hajj committee under Iran’s tourism authority. One of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s vice presidents then dismissed the hajj organization chief, Mostafa Khaksar Qahroudi, and installed a replacement.

That brought a protest from the supreme leader’s representative on hajj affairs, who called the government’s move illegal.

Ayatollah Khamenei issued a statement on Monday backing his representative and ordering that Mr. Qahroudi be restored. “Regarding the replacement in the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, the president was strongly notified that the annexation of this organization to the tourism committee is not appropriate,” the government daily newspaper Iran quoted Ayatollah Khamenei as saying. He ordered that the “situation remain as it was before.”

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