The deputy mayor of Tehran has confirmed a "social headquarters" is to be established by the IRGC’s Khatam al-Anbia Headquarters with the help of mosques and Friday imams.
The purpose of the base, Amin Tavakolizadeh told Payam-e Ma newspaper, was to pursue "social sponsorship". “In addition to taking care of the physical aspects of the city,” he said, “more attention will be paid to the city’s soul."
Earlier, newly-anointed Mayor of Tehran Alireza Zakani had announced the need to establish such a headquarters in Tehran in order to “eliminate” what he termed “social issues”. He raised the presence of drug addicts in southern parts of Tehran as an example, saying the headquarters would collaborate with government agencies in removing what he referred to as "stains."
Zakani’s appointment as mayor of Tehran was fraught with controversy. The former conservative MP has a long history of membership in the Basij, and the new role was gifted to him almost immediately after he stood as a cover candidate for Ebrahim Raisi in the June 2021 presidential election.
On Wednesday the deputy mayor of Tehran also said the new IRGC base would consist of three pillars: "government agencies", "revolutionary institutions" and "jihadi forces". Its activities, he conceded, were “not legally" within the scope of IRGC officers’ duties, but could be construed as their duty as citizens.
The idea of a “social headquarters” in the Iranian capital has already drawn criticism. Abolfazl Ghanati, a member of the Tehran City Council, said the deputy mayor had got the wrong branch of the IRGC: “The duties and missions of [the Khatam al-Anbia Headquarters] are in the fields of construction and civil engineering. It’s better that the IRGC does not directly enter the social arena."
Numerous academics and media outlets also castigated the involvement of the military in social issues. Payam-e Roshanfekr wrote that it would be “like bringing the Basij and the IRGC into the hospital operating theater.”