Every week, the jumuah, or Friday prayer, is held in a large tent at the University of Tehran, with thousands of the faithful spilling out onto the surrounding campus. At each of these prayer meetings, the cleric on the platform clutches an AK-47 as he leads a chant of “Death to America! Death to Israel!”
Many of the chanters are not religious zealots. They’re here because this weekly morning ritual is, in effect, a Washington cocktail party, a board meeting, and an audience with the pope all rolled into one.
For Tehran’s leading politicians and businessmen, staying in favor with the ruling powers demands attendance, because in Iran, it’s not just government that is fiercely theocratic; big business is too.