In Iran, conflict between the State and religious leaders continues over the future kind of government for the country.
In Iran, conflict between the State and religious leaders continues over the future kind of government for the country. The Shia Moslem priesthood of the country is demanding a constitutional government under the 1907 Constitution, and an authoritative voice in government. The Shia religious leaders played a major role in drafting the constitution which contains a promise that the Mullahs would be given five seats in the parliament.
The struggle between State and Church is decades old, with little sign of a satisfactory resolution. But last Sunday (28 May), Shah Reza Pahlevi and the Empress Farah paid a special visit to the Holy Mosque in Mashhad - one of the richest in the Islamic world. Observers saw the visit as a demonstration by the Shah that he is still welcomed by his people, despite recent disturbance which have presented Iran's ruler with his most serious challenge since the 1960s.
During his visit, the Shah met with local religious leaders who made an unusual concession in allowing the accompanying film team to follow the Iranian ruler inside the mosque, even into the most sacred party where stands the tomb of the Prophet Ali Reza. Normally, non-Moslems are not allowed into even the outer court of the mosque.
Earlier this month, the spiritual leader of the Iranians, Ayatollah Shariatmadari, warned the Shah that there would be no peace until the Shia Moslem priesthood's demands were met. There exists a longstanding deep rivalry between the Pahlevi dynasty of the Shah and the who place great importance on the primacy of divine law in an Islamic Government. According to the clergy the Pahlevis have denied the priests such primacy for several decades. Meanwhile the disturbance continue and at least 13 people have died in May alone in the wave of anti-government unrest. And observers see this opposition to the Shah becoming increasingly rooted in Iran's religious community.