Photo Credit: Mostafameraji / Wikimedia
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Noori Hamedani

A top Islamic legal authority in the Iranian city of Qom – a member of the council headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – has announced his support for demonstrators as the protests enter their fourth day in Iran.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Noori-Hamedani, age 92, is the country’s top religious authority on Islamic jurisprudence. On Saturday he was quoted by the Tasnim news agency as expressing his support for “the people,” saying it was time to support their rights.

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“The people are demanding their right and we must support them,” Hamedani said, according to Tasnim. “People are demanding their legitimate rights because they suffer from high living costs and the difficulty of living, as well as the spread of unemployment.”

Hamedani called on the government to work to reduce poverty and unemployment and avoid the anger of the people. “A lot of people have written to us about the loss of their money in financial institutions and some banks that have declared bankruptcy and have not been able to return their money. The government must pay these funds without delay,” Hamdani said.

Hamedani warned, however, of “stooges of the enemy” infiltrating protests to use them against the establishment, according to Tasnim.

According to an Iranian source, he is an Iranian Twelver Shia Marja. He has been called a “hard-line cleric” who has expressed his strong disapproval of Sufi Muslims and dervishes, Jews, the intellectual Abdolkarim Soroush and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Noori-Hamedani was born in Hamadan, Iran (hence the name); after finishing elementary school in Hamadan, at the age of 17 he moved to Qom, Iran to continue his religious studies. Noori-Hamedani studied in the seminaries of Allameh Tabatabai and Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi. He currently resides and teaches in the Seminary of Qom.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.