Iran's Rowhani: It’s not for police to enforce Islam
Rowhani, a relative moderate, last week faced criticism from the Islamic republic's clerical establishment
Iran's President Hassan Rowhani said Monday it was not up to the country's police to deliver Islamic guidance, distancing himself from efforts to involve law enforcement in religion.
Rowhani, a relative moderate, last week faced criticism from the Islamic republic's clerical establishment and conservative lawmakers for insisting the police had no role to play in religion.
But in a speech to teachers on Monday he took up the issue again, saying it was for officers to carry "handcuffs and pistols", not to act like clergy.
"If we tell them you are the seminary and you can also interpret Islam, there would be chaos," he said.
"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," he said.
"But you can't just tell anyone... (to) interpret" Islam, he added.
Rowhani last year spoke out about draft legislation that would have given more power to police and volunteer militias to enforce women's compulsory wearing of the veil.
"We should not be overly focused on one issue, such as bad hijab, to prevent vice," he said, in reference to women deemed not properly veiled.
The proposed law was later ruled unconstitutional.
And last month he told law enforcement commanders that "police should only enforce the law", drawing a rebuke from the country's powerful religious establishment.
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the head of Iran's highest clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, said the government is "bound to implement the laws of Islam, and cannot say no to Islam."
Conservative lawmakers also wrote a letter protesting Rowhani's remarks, saying it was up to the government "to defend Islam in any meeting".
Rowhani was elected in 2013 to replace the more conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and has faced resistance from hardliners on a range of issues, including efforts to reach a deal with world powers on Tehran's contested nuclear program.
Iran’s Rowhani warns change coming for ‘sanctions busters’With an approaching final nuclear deal, those making money off sanctions will have to find another profession. Middle East
Rowhani: Iran’s military strategy purely defensiveIran’s military is purely for defense and should not be seen as a threat in the Middle East, President Hassan Rowhani said Saturday amid rising ... Middle East
Rowhani says nuclear deal possible only if sanctions liftedIran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but it has never welcomed intrusive inspections Middle East
Iranian president calls for halt to Yemen airstrikesRowhani’s call for an end on airstrikes in Yemen comes after U.S. and UAE both accused Iran of meddling in Yemen Middle East
Rowhani: Iran will sign final nuclear deal only if sanctions liftedThe tentative deal revived hopes of an end to sanctions in return for limits on the Iranian atomic program Middle East