Khatami urges clergy to take "present-day realities"
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.