TEHRAN -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has proposed increasing funds for hard-line think tanks by 143 percent in his draft government budget, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
If passed by the parliament, hundreds of millions dollars more than the previous year would be directed to ideological institutes -- mostly run by close associates of Ahmadinejad -- that are trying to prepare the country for the imminent return of the "Hidden Imam."
The Islamic republic's official ideology dictates that the regime should prepare to hand over the government to the divine leadership of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi. Believers in the Hidden Imam, who was born in 869, say he did not die but was hidden by God and will eventually reappear as the savior of mankind.
One beneficiary of the proposed funding hikes would be the Ayandeh Rooshan Organization, led by Ahmadinejad's brother-in-law Sfandiyar Rahim Mashayee, who also heads the Presidential Office. It is slated to receive some $120 million in the draft budget.
Another beneficiary of the new budget would be the Imam Khomeini think tank, run by Ahmadinejad's spiritual adviser Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.
Both institutes advance the Hidden Imam ideology. Ahmadinejad has made that ideology the basis of the legitimacy of his populist administration and his refusal to cooperate with opposition forces in the country.
In all, the budget proposal increases the number of hard-line institutions and individuals who support Ahmadinejad who are receiving direct government subsidies from 38 to 58.
By comparison, the amount of money proposed for the Rooyan Institute, a leading scientific research center involved in reproductive biomedicine, stem-cell research and technology, will receive $12 million.
The budget was presented last month to the Majlis, Iran's parliament, and is waiting its approval.