(AFP) – Oct 15, 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian leaders say the world financial crisis indicates the end of capitalism, the failure of liberal democracy and divine punishment -- marking the superiority of the Islamic republic's political model.
"The school of Marxism has collapsed and the sound of the West's cracking liberal democracy is now being heard," supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday, recalling the fate of the Soviet Union.
Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is backed by Khamenei, said on Tuesday that "it is the end of capitalism."
Such convictions can be traced back to the ideals of the 1979 Islamic revolution, which Ahmadinejad has sought to revive since he rose to power in 2005.
The firebrand president, who has not missed a chance to denounce Western "decadence" since his election, has exploited the scale of the global crisis to play up his argument.
He benefits from the luxury that the Tehran stock market has been unaffected by the losses that bourses in neighbouring Gulf states have suffered. That stability is attributable to the absence of foreign investors and to the government's firm grip on economic activity.
Several Iranian newspapers, regardless of their reformist or conservative leanings, have also blamed the global economic crisis on excessive liberalism.
And some officials, such as the head of Iran's electoral watchdog body, have come up with less conventional theories and branded the turmoil as "divine punishment."
"These people see the outcome of their bad deeds. This problem has spread to Europe now which makes us happy. The unhappier they are the happier we become," Ayatollah Ali Janati, who heads the Guardians Council, said in last Friday's prayer sermon.
Ahmadinejad has recently echoed that, saying "the reason of their defeat is that they have forgotten God and piety."
The financial crisis should be a divine sign that "the oppressors and the corrupt will be replaced by the pious and believers," he said, adding that "an Islamic banking system will help us survive the current economic crisis."
Ahmadinejad's administration favours such a system, based on interest-free lending, but the system has not been widely implemented and faces criticism by economists.
Elected on a justice campaign, the president has gone on a spending spree to "bring the oil money to the tables" of Iranian people.
But the cash injection to the economy has fuelled inflation, which has risen from around 10 percent at the time of his election to nearly 30 percent.
For Iran's supreme leader, the crisis particularly signifies the superiority of the Islamic republic's political structure, which combines elements of democracy with those of a theocracy.
Khamenei hailed the "victory of the Islamic revolution" in the face of Marxist and liberal ideologies. "Now there is no sign of Marxism in the world and even liberalism is declining," the all powerful leader said.
The Iranian regime deems the concepts of democracy and human rights as "imperialist" tools to dominate other nations.
The Islamic republic thus defends its electoral practice of vetting candidates running for public office according to their religious adherence and its judicial system, which resorts to the death penalty for serious crimes more than any country in the world except for China.
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