03/11/2023, 18.41
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Ayatollah in Qom wants to bring converts to Christianity (and other faiths) back to Islam

Ayatollah Alavi Borujerdi, grandson of one of the teachers of the founder of the Islamic Republic, warns against the “strange desire” for Zoroastrianism or belonging to house churches. Traditional Shia clerics have lost credibility. Meanwhile, the authorities are looking for young women who danced on International Women's Day.


Tehran (AsiaNews) – “Bring them back!” said a prominent Shia cleric in Qom concerned about his co-religionists converting to Christianity or other religions.

While senior Iranian clerics are in the Vatican for talks about religious freedom and peace, whose highlight was the meeting yesterday between Pope Francis and Ayatollah Abulhassan Navab, chancellor of the University for Religions and Denominations in Qom, Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Javad Alavi Borujerdi (pictured) on Thursday spoke to a group of students in Qom, lashing out at  Muslims who abandon their faith.

Alavi Borujerdi is not just any ayatollah. His grandfather taught the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.

“Some people who are separating from us [leaving Shia Islam] came to me,” he said. These “young people have found a very strange desire for Zoroastrianism. Some people have told me that there is a house church in Qom, and the number of Wahhabis has increased. Some even seem to be becoming Buddhists! These are our problems,” he bemoaned.

“God knows that the child who went and became a Christian, his responsibility will not be removed from my shoulders. This child is a Shiite. I have to bring him back. I have no right to abandon him. We can’t be complacent that he left!”

Acknowledging that today’s religious leaders have lost authoritativeness and influence over certain individuals, above all because of the story of Mahsa Amini, he urged them nevertheless to come back to their people.

“Do the young people of the new generation have anything to do with us?” he asked. “We are strangers to them. They follow anyone but us!”

For Mansour Borji, director of Article18, a Christian rights advocacy group, the ayatollah's words reflect a “loss of religious credibility and traditional respect for the Muslim clergy, who are disconnected with the younger generation.”

Instead of blaming young people, Iran's clerical autocracy should look inward and admit that it has abused worshippers.

Although the Iranian regime claims that 95 per cent of the population is Shia Muslim, a 2020 study by a Dutch research team found that less than a third of respondents identified as Shia.

Almost half said they no longer had any faith, while others said that they had converted to Zoroastrianism or Christianity.

Meanwhile, five girls who are seen dancing without a headscarf, in open defiance of the country’s law, on International Women's Day, are the subject of an investigation by the authorities.

The video showing the young women strutting their stuff has gone viral, with many netizens expressing their support. Conversely, those in power are none too pleased.

The young women, dressed in baggy pants, can be seen dancing in an open space, in Ekbatan, a neighbourhood in western Tehran, one of the areas where anti-government protest is strongest.

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