Tehran (AsiaNews) - The public security of a State, also an Islamic Republic, "has the task of guiding the religious behavior of the population. The police have to carry "handcuffs and pistols", but not act like clergy", said the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a public speech delivered in front of the teachers in the capital Tehran.
The political leader is considered a moderate and, since his election in 2013, has sent conciliatory signals to the international community. Under his presidency the Iranian nuclear program has been agreed on, ending years of isolation and heavy sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Furthermore, in various public occasions he has spoken against the interference of religion in public life.
Last week some Conservative MPs, close to the religious establishment, criticized his attitude to religious policing. The head of state had in fact reminded public security commanders: "The police should only implement and enforce the law, not interpret it."
Talking with teachers, Rouhani intervened again on the subject: "we tell them you are the seminary and you can also interpret Islam, there would be chaos. All teachers in schools, universities and of course in the seminaries whose mission is to better understand and express religion have a responsibility to teach, spread and explain Islam. But you can't just tell anyone... (to) interpret".
Returning to a proposed bill of 2014, which would give the police and volunteer members of religious bodies the power to "forcibly" impose women to wear the veil, the President added: "We should not focus too much on a single question, such as the veil, to prevent vice in society. "
These positions have not pleased the Assembly of Experts, the largest religious body in the country, that elects the supreme leader. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, head of the Assembly, said: "The government is bound to implement the laws of Islam, and cannot say no to Islam".