Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has not been seen in public for more than three weeks, has issued a message urging Iranians to produce more babies, which he said is essential for the future of the Islamic Republic.
“Young image is an essential and important issue for the country, and the countries which have faced aging population have overcome the issue in a difficult way,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in his message addressed to the national conference of the population changes, the official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.
“It is necessary, therefore, to carry out essential and scientific work to resolve this issue,” Khamenei added.
“We always wonder how life is going to be if we have four or five children; we should also think that if we have four or five children and if they are able to find jobs they will contribute to the development of the country,” he noted.
He said 150 million is the “minimum” that Iran should have and that it is capable for more. He criticized the government policies during the reformist administration of Mohammad Khatami who encouraged family planning.
Former conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad introduced an initiative whereby the government would pay families for every new child by depositing money into the child bank account until they are 18 years old.
Ahmadinejad considered family planning as ungodly, saying: “Those who raise the idea of family planning are thinking in the realm of the secular world.”
The Iranian population is estimated at 79 million in 2013 and about half are about 35 years of age.