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News | Ayatollah Decries Shrine Surfeit; Netanyahu 'Ready to Press the Button'

by DAN GEIST and TEHRAN BUREAU CORRESPONDENTS

06 Nov 2012 16:40Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

ImamzadehTabriz.jpgDevotional Story of the Day

Construction of shrines out of control, says senior cleric

Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi has spoken out against the increase in the number of shrines in Iran dedicated to the offspring of the Shia Imams, known as imamzadehs, since the 1979 Revolution.

The ayatollah said that shrine-building results in the loss of faith among the people. "Some individuals claim dream-visions to exploit the sentiments of the public and build new shrines, and we need to be cautious about these individuals," he declared.

Imamzadehs -- the term is used for the shrines, as well as for those to whom they are dedicated -- are popular sites for pilgrimage and prayer. Some traditional Shiites also believe that they possess healing and other miraculous powers. Like much else in Shia practice, the inspiration to build an imamzadeh classically comes via dream, or khab dide -- seen in sleep.

The State Endowment and Charitable Affairs Organization, whose governor is appointed directly by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reports that it oversees more than 8,000 shrines.

Earlier this year, the conservative Siyasat Nameh website reported that over the past three decades, approximately 300 new imamzadehs were added annually around the country. "The number of imamzadeh [shrines] at the beginning of the Revolution was 1,500, and unfortunately this number has reached 10,500," the report stated.

A spokesman for the Endowment Organization recently confirmed that the number of shrines in Iran is now seven times greater than than the figure in 1979, and that Mazandaran province alone has 1,062. Imamzadehs are one of the most important sources of income for the charitable institution.

Quote of the Day

"I am of course ready to press the button if necessary. As long as I am prime minister, Iran will not have the atomic bomb. If there's no other way, Israel is ready to act."

-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview that aired on Israel's Channel 2 Monday night. The interview appeared as part of an hourlong report that described how, in 2010, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for a unilateral strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The order was withdrawn after it was opposed by then IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and then Mossad director Meir Dagan.

Video of the Day

A panel discussion that took place last month in New York that addresses a report issued by the Iran Project, "Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Action Against Iran," available here (PDF download). The panelists are former Ambassador William H. Luers, director of the Iran Project, a nongovernmental organization that seeks to improve communication between the U.S. and Iranian governments; Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations; Admiral (ret.) Eric T. Olsen, former head of the U.S. Special Operations Command; and Professor Austin Long, codrafter of the report with Luers. The report's preamble states, "The paper draws no final conclusions and offers no recommendations. It offers an objective description of some of the prerequisites for thinking about the use of military force against Iran: the need to establish clear objectives, evaluate the capacity of the U.S. military to achieve those objectives, plan an exit strategy, and then weigh the benefits and costs of the military options." In the recording above, after introductory comments, the substantive discussion begins at the 12-minute mark.

Statistic of the Day

54 trillion tomans

-- The Iranian budget deficit for the Persian calendar year 1391 (March 2012-13), according to Majles deputy Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, head of the parliament's Programs and Budget Commission. At the official rate of exchange, that is equivalent to approximately 4.3 billion dollars.

Government Roundup of the Day

Evin Arcade? Impeaching Majles leadership?

* Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said that Tehran Municipality is ready to buy the Evin Prison complex and build something in its place such as an amusement center. "The municipality has submitted a written request to the judiciary," the mayor stated, adding that the response was "initial readiness" to move ahead with the project. "We hope to this feat accomplished as soon as possible."

* Majles deputy Hossein Ali Haji Delagani said that following the "inappropriate conduct" of the parliament's Presiding Board in confirming the receipt of a motion to question President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a number of lawmakers are preparing a motion to impeach presiding board. He added that several lawmakers walked out of the Majles yesterday in protest at the board's decision to move ahead with summoning the president for grilling.

* Bank Melli released the names of debtors who have failed to repay loans of a billion tomans or more. Among those named by the bank are two Majles deputies: Mohsen Kouhkan and Iraj Nadimi, who received a loan of nine billion tomans five years ago to build four high-rise condominiums for fellow legislators -- a project that has still not been completed. Kouhkan stated his belief that the delay in repaying the loan benefits the bank as it will receive more interest, eventually.

Photos of the Day

Yazd1.jpgYazd2.jpgYazd3.jpg

Architecture of the 3,000-year-old city of Yazd, in the heart of Iran.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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