Iran: Softcore Criticism vs. Hardcore Criticism of the Regime……..

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“I do not care about statistics. Every day about 2000 letters and messages are received by our office in which many complain about inflation and other problems,” the grand ayatollah told worshippers at prayers marking Eid ul-Fitr in the shrine city of Qom. As a marja taqlid (a Shia cleric regarded as a source of emulation), Makarem Shirazi also referred to cultural issues and said, “If ethical issues are undermined, the system, Islam, and Quran also suffer damages.” Elsewhere in his speech he called on officials to be open to criticism. “There is constructive criticism among these criticisms.” He added it is not correct to say that everything is good and “close our eyes to realities”…………………..”

The grand ayatollah is being gracious, conceding that people have a right to ‘criticize’ mundane things like inflation, the price of bread, gas, etc. That is normal: they do that all over the Middle East. He will probably be a little less gracious if people get to criticize a bit more hardcore issues, like the unemployment that is in double digits and much higher in truth than official data would indicate. After all, without employment people won’t be able to buy these items about whose prices they complain (like bread, gas, etc). I also suspect the cleric will be even much less gracious if people start doing some hardcore criticism, about silly things like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and elections. He would be especially pissed off if the decide to criticize the raison d’etre for the whole system. That is a definite no-no all over the region.