An Islamic cleric in Iran has taken a bold step to oppose the hardline Islamic regime of his country.
Sayyed Mohammad Anjavinejad reportedly took the stage of a mosque in south-central Iran and launched into a scathing criticism of the regime's authoritarian leaders, accusing them and their families of ruining his country with decades of corruption and theft.
"There is no doubt that 99% of our officials and their families do not face any economic, social, welfare, or educational problem," Anjavinejad reportedly told the small crowd that had gathered at a mosque in Shiraz in July. "They robbed you and me. We have no idea...how many billions each of those families conceals."
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, obtained a video of his speech. According to the group's website, Anjavinejad's sermon "was posted on the Iranian Aparat website on July 7, 2018, and circulated on other social media sites."
MEMRI says Anjavinejad is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war and holds the religious title of Hujjat Al-Islam, which in Arabic means "authority on Islam."
An initial search showed several social media accounts bearing Anjavinejad's name, though CBN News is unable to verify whether the accounts in question belong to the cleric.
Anjavinejad's comments come as Iranians grow more frustrated and angry by the day over their government's handling of a failing economy.
"Our country is beyond repair," said an exasperated Anjavinejad.
Since December 2016, tens of thousands of Iranians in more than 80 cities across the country have staged demonstrations protesting the weak economy, strict Islamic rules, water shortages, high inflation and skyrocketing prices.
"At this point, they are facing what many call one of the worst economic crises this country has ever seen," journalist Reza Sayah told France 24. "Everything from real estate, groceries, and electronic goods has almost doubled in price."
Watch as thousands of Iranians take to the streets chanting, 'Death To The Dictator'
Many like Anjavinejad put the blame squarely on 40 years of dictatorial rule by Iran's Islamic clerics.
"They sit in their pavilions, enjoying good food. They fly first class, and talk in seminars all day. Forget it! I am sick and tired of them," Anjavinejad said during his speech. "This has been the case throughout the 40 years of the revolution. There is no doubt about this."
For weeks, the country's currency has been in a free fall, plummeting to historic lows against the dollar. This has put tremendous pressure on average citizens who are struggling to make ends meet.
"So what hope is left for us?" asked Anjavinejad. "I'm sitting here, complaining and shouting, but what's the use? There is none.
The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2018
On Monday, the United States reimposed sanctions against Iran, turning its back on the 2015 nuclear deal.
"These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed," Trump said in a tweet, adding, "anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States."
Experts say Trump's strategy is already having an effect.
"The currency, since the president announced our withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, the Iranian currency has decreased by nearly half," John Bolton, the White House national security advisor, told Fox News. "We've seen millions and millions of dollars in currency leaving Iran as the elites move their assets out of the country and we've seen a continuation of demonstrations and even riots in towns and cities across Iran as the economy has gone into a tailspin."
Breaking on #IranUpdate,
100 thousand of anti regime protestors who were watching the football match are leaving the stadium and all of them are chanting "death to the dictator, death to Khamenei, death to Rouhani, and Islamic regime must get lost."#Iran#IranProtests pic.twitter.com/etNpc6VVwG
— Raman Ghavami (@Raman_Ghavami) August 3, 2018
As in the past, social media continues to play a vital role in fueling anti-government sentiments in Iran. Videos uploaded to various social media platforms reportedly show crowds of angry demonstrators chanting, "Death to the dictator! Death to Khamenei! Death to Rouhani!" and "Islamic regime must get lost!"
Here is Shiraz, #Iran
People do not want this regime. They chant:
— mahsti25 (@mahsti25metana1) August 4, 2018
"We had protests in 2009 but these are different because people are calling for the death of the President and the Supreme Leader. They have broken a lot of taboos," Hanif Jazayeri, of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told the Daily Mail. "The demonstrations are not just over economic issues but very quickly turned political due to the regime's repression of the Iranian people with regard to women's rights, freedom of speech and other basic freedoms."
— Lisa Daftari (@LisaDaftari) August 6, 2018
"The chants are directed at the entirety of the regime and protesters are demanding regime change," Jazayeri added.
According to a transcript provided by MEMRI, Anjavinejad ended his speech by denouncing the regime's lack of empathy for those suffering tremendous economic hardship.
"They and their families have become accustomed to forbidden money," Anjavinejad said of the ruling class. "They have never suffered from the cold or the heat. They have never suffered from a water shortage. They have never been unable to enjoy life."
"We did not have a revolution only so that they could eat from our pockets and be our masters. In most cases, their families study abroad. For how long are we supposed to protect their interests?"