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Khatami urges clergy to take "present-day realities" into account

TEHRAN, May 26 (AFP) - Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami has urged members of the Shiite Moslem clergy to take "present-day realities" and the needs of the country's youth into account, the official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday.

"If the clergy distance themselves from the factual realities of the present-day world, they will not be able to fulfill their role as well as they should," Khatami was quoted as saying Tuesday during a visit to the holy city of Qom, 125 kilometers (75 miles) south of Tehran.

The president, who was speaking at a Shiite shrine in Qom, called on clerics to "strive for intimacy with the youth and rest assured that the union between clergy and youth would create the strongest power."

Khatami's speech comes amid a campaign by a number of senior clerics against the political and cultural opening of the country, considered dangerous to the values of the Islamic revolution and clerical power.

Khatami, a cleric, said the clergy should "shoulder a heavy task which requires them to rely on their religious experiences as well as overall knowledge which must be consistent with present-day dictates."

Khatami, who enjoys great popularity among young people, called for an "Islamic democracy" in Iran during a ceremony held Sunday on the occasion of the second anniversary of his election.


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