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Iran's Cabinet Ministers Weep To Mark Religious Festival

Iranian cabinet ministers during the November 3 session
Iranian cabinet ministers during the November 3 session

Iranians have been celebrating the Shi’ite religious festival of Tasua Ashura to honor the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, who was slain in a battle in Karbala in 680 C.E.

Many Iranians take to the streets or go to mosques and beat their chests to mourn the suffering and death of the third Shi’ite imam and his companions. Some gather to watch the traditional Ta'zieh, a play that recounts the events that surrounded Hussein's death. Still others cook food and offer it to friends, neighbors, and the poor.

Iran's cabinet of ministers launched its November 3 session by listening to a tearful sermon by President Hassan Rohani.

State-controlled television reported that Rohani's sermon appeared to have brought cabinet ministers to tears -- some loudly -- focused on the lessons of Ashura, including resistance in the face of oppression and injustice.

Here's an ISNA photo gallery of tearful ministers.

Iranians are used to seeing their leaders cry in public, particularly at times of religious mourning.

The website of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei often posts pictures of the cleric in tears over the death of Shi’ite religious figures (as over Imam Hussein here).

Here's a tweet by @Khamenei_ir, which is believed to be run by Khamenei’s media team:

Iranian politicians have also wept in public during election campaigns and on other occasions.

While some of the crying may be genuine, weeping politicians are often accused by critics of attempting to manipulate the public and influence emotional Iranians.

The pictures of Rohani and other government ministers, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, weeping this week have been ridiculed by some social-media users.

"They cry in front of cameras to prove their sincerity?" one Facebook user wrote.

Under a short video of Rohani's sermon and weeping posted on an Instagram account believed to be managed by people close to the Iranian president, many reacted with great appreciation, while others criticized the move.

"As one of your supporters I didn't agree with your sermon, I think it's not befitting of a president's status," wrote a young man.

"This is all great," wrote another, adding, "But when are people's economic situations going to improve?"

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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