Ali Jannati, a former minister of culture under President Hassan Rouhani, has strongly attacked the state of the Iranian society and a lack of political leadership in the country. He said that there were “75,000 mosques and 800 Friday prayer leaders” in Iran today, but ordinary people still had “no one to turn to for leadership.”
“What are all these people [religious authorities] doing? Why do they have no [positive] impact on the lives of people?” he asked. Pointing out that social, cultural and press freedoms in Iran face severe restrictions, Jannati said that “even during the Tehran Book Fair, there were many [local] writers who were banned. I was given a list of over 50 writers whose work was banned.”
This was a scathing attack on the entire Islamist regime in Tehran. Jannati was forced to resign in October after the culture ministry under his leadership came under massive attack for having given permission for a classical concert to be held in the city of Mashhad. The religious authorities in that city mobilized against it, and called the planned concert an insult against religious sanctities. Iranian people, and particularly the youth, continue to live under suffocating cultural rules imposed by the state, which is a key factor behind the large flow of emigration from Iran.