Iran’s seminaries debate financial independence amid budget cuts

Al-Monitor | : Iran’s theological seats of learning appear set to face major difficulties in the coming Iranian year (beginning March 21) as the government has significantly reduced their budget allocations.

Various institutions and seminaries receive money from the government to promote religion and train clerics. In the budget bill submitted by the administration to the parliament, religious institutions and seminaries are facing a serious reduction in their annual budgets. For example, the government has allocated some 3.063 trillion rials ($72.86 million) to the Supreme Council of Qom Seminaries for the coming Iranian year. In comparison, the council received 4.45 trillion rials ($105.9 million) in the current year (ending March 20).

Ayatollah Ali-Reza Aarafi, who oversees all seminaries across the country, lamented the current state of affairs on Jan. 17, saying, “The seminary is in its worst condition economically.” He added, “The budgets of seminaries have been reduced by a third” of what they were last year.

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