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Iranian Regime Facing "Unprecedented" Street Attacks Against Clerics

A spate of recent attacks in Iran on clerics, seminarians and even state agents are prompting some to self-defense classes, while others are holing up inside.

Image of a man reading the Qu'uran after praying

Man reading the Qu'uran after praying.


Iran's mullahs, or the Shia jurists usually seen in flowing robes and turban, may be in charge of Iran, but they're increasingly hesitant to tread its streets.

Their fears follow a recent spate of attacks on regime supporters including a gun killing, possibly related to public anger with the Islamic regime and its violent suppression of mass protests late in 2022.

On May 1, the judiciary chief Gholam Hussein Mohseni-Ejei urged a swift and firm response, while another cleric, former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, advised those mullahs preaching at Friday congregational prayers to take self-defense classes.

The incidents include the shooting death on April 26 of a senior cleric, Abbas Ali Suleimani, in a bank in the northern city of Babolsar, one of several attempts to run over clerics or seminarians, a Basiji militiaman killed in Sabzevar in north-eastern Iran and a police commander shot dead in Saravan in the province of Sistan-Baluchestan, on April 30. On May 6, another mullah was reported as stabbed and injured in the district of Ahmadabad in the central Markazi province.

Image of people walking in a street in the city of Qom, Iran.

A street in the city of Qom, Iran.


Payback time 

London-based broadcaster Iran International observed that Suleimani, a former member of the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body, was thought to have been involved in mass prison killings in the late 1980s.

We've never seen days like this in Qom.

One senior theologian, Ayatollah Muhammad Javad Alavi-Borujerdi, said the attacks were "unprecedented," deploring a "gap has opened between the people and ourselves ... We've never seen days like this in Qom, with people trying to run over a seminarian and then getting out of the car to complete their work with knives."

He said that in some towns, clerics hadn't left home for two months now.

Assuming the incidents were not private or simply criminal in nature, they indicate a seething anger and hatred of the regime that has far from subsided since the suppression of the 2022 protests. But they are not easily clarified, and the state has little interest in truth-telling.

Image of \u200bIranian Shia cleric Abbas-Ali Soleimani.

Iranian Shia cleric Abbas-Ali Soleimani.

Mohammad Houti For

Eye for an eye

Whatever the details, such incidents are always a pretext for a response. The conservative Tehran paper Kayhan — an informal mouthpiece of the supreme leader — warned they were part of an organized bid to foment "hatred and fear" around public servants.

Another paper, Vatan-e Emruz, blamed the police officer's death in Saravan on followers of a prominent Sunni cleric of Sistan-Baluchestan, Abdul Hamid Ismailzahi, who has bitterly criticized the regime since the protests of 2022. His sermons, it observed, were undermining security forces in the province.

A crackdown was already underway in this part of Iran. The authorities were reported on May 4 to have hanged 19 prisoners in the Sistan-Baluchestan province in the previous five days.

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Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Women in Italy are living longer than ever. But severe economic and social inequality and loneliness mean that they urgently need a new model for community living – one that replaces the "one person, one house, one caregiver" narrative we have grown accustomed to.

Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones.

Barbara Leda Kenny

ROMENina Ercolani is the oldest person in Italy. She is 112 years old. According to newspaper interviews, she enjoys eating sweets and yogurt. Mrs. Nina is not alone: over the past three years, there has been an exponential growth in the number of centenarians in Italy. With over 20,000 people who've surpassed the age of 100, Italy is in fact the country with the highest number of centenarians in Europe.

Life expectancy at the national level is already high. Experts say it can be even higher for those who cultivate their own gardens, live away from major sources of pollution, and preferably in small towns near the sea. Years of sunsets and tomatoes with a view of the sea – it used to be a romantic fantasy but is now becoming increasingly plausible.

Centenarians occupy the forefront of a transformation taking place in a country where living a long life means being among the oldest of the old. Italy is the second oldest country in the world, and it ranks first in the number of people over eighty. In simple terms, this means that Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones: those over 65 make up almost one in four, while children (under 14) account for just over one in 10. The elderly population will continue to grow in the coming years, as the baby boomer generation, born between 1961 and 1976, is the country's largest age group.

But there is one important data set to consider when discussing our demographics: in general, women make up a slight majority of the population, but from the age of sixty onwards, the gap progressively widens. Every single Italian over 110 years old is a woman.

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