PARIS 27TH DEC. (IPS) Conservative clerics are rushing from all side to defend the ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i in his positions both as the leader and the valye faqih, or the guardianship of the minors.
Equating the powers of the valye faqih, or the leader of the Islamic Republic in Iran to those of Mohammad, the prophet of Muslims, the ayatollah Ali Meshkini, the Friday Preacher of the city of Qom said not only the valye faqih is above the Constitution, but he can as well dispose of all the wealth of the nation and even those of the private individuals.
Observers noted that Mr Meshkini, who is also the Secretary of the powerful, 12 members Council of the Guardians and a close relative of Mr Khameneh'i come so strongly in support of the leader as the Judiciary prepare the prosecution of the grand ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri, accused of denigrating and insulting the leader, conspiring against the security of the Islamic state and intelligence with the enemy.
"The concept of the valye faqih can not be defined in or by the Constitution. Those who pretend that the powers of the valye faqih must be limited to what has been defined for him in the Constitution do not know what they are talking about, for, the powers and the rights of the valye are the same as those of the prophet. He can dispose of all the nation's wealth, but also those belonging to the individuals"; the ayatollah said during his Friday sermon released Saturday by the state run radio and television.
Analysts reminded that in recent speeches, the ayatollah Montazeri, one of the founders of the Islamic Republic with the grand ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiny criticised the religious legitimacy, the political capacity and the style of leadership of the ayatollah Khameneh'i as the valye faqih and supreme leader.
As a result, demonstrations where organised last month against him, orchestrated by the conservative clerics and in one incident, state paid thugs attacked the residence and the teaching school of the grand ayatollah in Qom, the cradle of the Iranian militant Islam, situated 140 kms south of the capital.
The ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who now leads the influential Council for the Discernment of the State's Interests was another senior cleric to come to the support of the embattled leader.
In an interview published Saturday by the radical daily "Keyhan" which is controlled by the Information (Intelligence) Ministry, Mr Rafsanjani equated those who attack the leader and his position of valye faqih to the enemies of Islam and the Islamic Republic. "As far as I'm concerned, I don't see any other than the ayatollah Khameneh'I to lead Islam", Mr Rafsanjani told the daily, qualifying as "means" those who criticise himself and the eight years period of his presidency.
Analysts noted that after Mr Montazeri's critical remarks, most of the senior clerics, including Mr Khamenehi's staunchest supporters such as Mr Meshkini agreed that he do not possess the right religious credentials to act as the valye faqih, observing that nevertheless, to be a leader, one does not have to be a religious emulating source, or grand ayatollah.
To many observers, in order to fill in the posts of both president and leader, Mr Rafsanjani is manipulating all sides to weaken his 2 arch rivals, meaning the ayatollahs Khameneh'I and Khatami.
In another interview published last week by the London-based, Saudi owned Arabic daily Sharq al awsat, the same Mr Rafsanjani had told he will use all the means and ways at his powers to prevent the grand ayatollah Montazeri sitting on the accused chair.