Iran Judiciary Chief Stages 1st Campaign Rally Despite Virus

SourceAsharq AL-awsat

Iran’s leading presidential candidate staged a mass rally in the country’s southeast that drew thousands of supporters late Wednesday, the first such gathering amid the raging coronavirus pandemic that has largely halted traditional election campaigning.

Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s hardline judiciary chief, toured the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province and addressed some 5,000 supporters at a sprawling football stadium in the city of Ahvaz. Despite the rising infection count and scorching temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), crowds mobbed the stadium to hear Raisi speak.

Although government officials claimed the city’s mass event was held in “full compliance” with coronavirus measures, there were no signs of social distancing on the field. Some supporters wore masks while others did not.

Raisi, the candidate who analysts suggest is the front-runner, took the stage just before midnight amid pounding Farsi pop music.

“Raisi, Raisi, we support you!” the crowds thundered, waving signs.

During his speech, the cleric, wearing a black turban, opined on the country’s grievances. more...