Hard-line clerics like Ayatollah Khamenei still believe that Iranians must purify themselves and adhere uncritically to their leaders' ideological exhortations.
Since 1989, when he succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei has not hesitated to use violence against his own citizens.
That qualification fitted Ayatollah Khamenei well since he was a loyal student of Ayatollah Khomeini and served for two terms as president of the Islamic Republic under him.
It would have been ideal then for Ayatollah Khamenei also to assume this position.
Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi said, "The issues of rising prices and economic problems are putting more and more pressure on the people day-by-day.
Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpayegani told the deputies, "If rising prices and inflation are curbed, the people's confidence in the Islamic system will increase.
For their part, it is clear the Supreme Leader does not plan to allow any other senior ayatollahs fill Montazeri's shoes, nor will he tolerate an independent clergy in Qom, Isfahan or Shiraz.
However, sustained pressure on independent-minded clerics in the main religious centers could prove counterproductive for the authorities, resulting in a backlash where ayatollahs critical of the government coalesce, mobilize support against the regime, and even question the legitimacy of Ali Khamenehi as Supreme Leader.
Using the war with Iraq as the excuse, the young Islamic revolutionaries also helped their clerical leaders--Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (who was elected Iran's president for two terms from 1989-1997 and is still a powerful politician), Ayatollah Khamenehi (who was Iran's president in the 1980s), and others--to impose extreme political repression on Iran, one result of which was the effective elimination of all secular political groups from Iran's political scene, a terrible blow to Iran's political development.
Ayatollah Khomeini's death had another long-term consequence whose effect is felt today.
Instead, he says, they will use their political power to hamper the ability of the Ayatollah and Ahmadinejad to govern.
Mojtaba's role in the crackdown is particularly noteworthy, as the Ayatollah has been grooming Mojtaba as his successor.