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Militant Clerics Society (Ruhaniyun)

The left-leaning Militant Clerics Society (also referred to as the Militant Clerics Association) was created in 1988 when a number of prominent political figures split from the older and more conservative Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Jameh-yi Ruhaniyat-i Mobarez-i Tehran). In early August 2005, the association elected former President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami as its secretary-general, but he turned down the post, citing time constraints. Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Asqar Musavi Khoeniha agreed on 28 August 2005 to be secretary-general of the Militant Clerics Association (Majma-yi Ruhaniyun-i Mobarez).

Musavi Khoeniha served as the state prosecutor-general and headed the subsequently banned "Salam" newspaper. This occured after Iran's Special Court for the Clergy found Musavi Khoeniha himself guilty of spreading fabrications, disturbing public opinion, and publishing classified documents in 1999. Past revolutionary credentials led to the sentence (3 1/2 years in jail and a public flogging) to be suspended and instead he was fined. He also was banned from publishing activities for three years and "Salam" was banned for five years.

The Militant Clerics, who trace the roots of their organization back to the 1979 revolution, as a number of active revolutionary clerical organizations, were initially supporters of the Iranian right, ungoing a shift only during the 1990s. Formal political parties in the traditional sense had been banned in 1987, only to be legalized again in the late 1990s, allowing groups like the Militant Clerics to formally enter the political arena. By that time the Militant Clerics Society had largely abandoned their radical domestic and anti-Western policies and even called for detente with the US and the introduction of political and economic reforms. However, the Militant Clerics and the National Trust Party formed by former member Mehdi Karrubi, both have appeared to fear what they see as extreme and radical reformists who seek to undermine the Islamic nature of Iran in favor of a more secular state.

The NTP refused to form coalitions with other reformist groups, but the Militant Clerics Association had not shown similar reluctance. In the 2004 Majlis elections and the 2005 Presidential elections, the Militant Clerics Society sided with reformist parties under the banner of the 2nd Khordad Front. The Militant Clerics Society candidate in the 2005 elections, Mehdi Karrubi, failed to win the support of the majority of the members of his own party, and split following the election to form the National Trust Party.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:46:03 ZULU