Qom all ye faithful, Iran's holiest city
The Economist

Still, many young Qomsters feel suffocated—and head north to breathe more freely and to look for work in Tehran. The strength is sapped out of any fledgling open opposition. In any case, liberalism in Qom is relative. Most supporters of Mir Hosein Mousavi, the thwarted presidential contender, still express respect for the controversial incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, because the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has thrown his weight behind him. “Imam Khamenei is so great,” says a local teacher. “I trust him completely, and if he says President Ahmadinejad has been doing a good job, then I believe him.” By contrast, in many other places, especially in the northern suburbs of Tehran, many Iranians lambast Mr Khamenei himself for the crackdown against people publicly disputing the election’s official result. In Qom, no one, it seems, openly  questions his authority. Mullahs in the city’s many mosques loudly extol his and the government’s view. At Friday prayers, ayatollahs rail against the supposed influence of the West in Iran’s affairs and castigate America for its evil deeds.At a 1,400-year-old mosque hidden in a warren of alleys, worshippers rush to the regime’s defence. “Our current problems are all because of foreign agents like the BBC,” says a 60-year-old veteran of the Iran-Iraq war. “The protesters have no right to demonstrate. They are criminal rioters.”The fervour of such worshippers is intense. Supporters of Mr Mo... >>>

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