Prominent Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Dastgheib says he and five other leading religious authorities in the country concur on sixteen points where they believe the Iranian regime has violated and deviated from the teachings of Islam, the Quran and the constitution of the Islamic Republic.
According to Hadis Sarv, a website close to senior cleric and member of the Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Dastgheib, he made the comments during a lecture on Sunday when he criticised the campaign of government intimidation and harsh court rulings handed against his students in the city of Shiraz.
“I presented five Marjas  with sixteen items of transgression from and violation of Islam, and they all approved and said, ‘we do not think otherwise’ and furthermore they even added some points [to my list of deviations]. Even if we assume that I know nothing [about Islam], do they [the five clerics] also know nothing? Are they also ‘foreigners?’”
Following attacks by state-sponsored plain clothed militia against supporters of the Ayatollah on International Quds day in September 2010, around ten of his students recently received harsh rulings ranging from $960 fines, seven-months jail-terms as well as bans on appearing in public in religious uniform.
“One cannot draw people towards God almighty through force and torture. One cannot draw the people’s hearts towards God almighty by resorting to security and military force,” Ayatollah Dastgheib said during his lecture on Sunday.
Addressing the judges presiding over his students’’ trials, the Ayatollah continued, “Each of these clerics has at least one thousand friends, relatives and family members who will hear about [these] sentences. With these acts, you will make all of these individuals doubtful about the Islamic Republic and then you will blame this on me … If you want the Islamic Republic to persist, and [if you want] for this system to be a monolithic and Islamic one, the path you have chosen is not the right one … the sentences you issue are not Islamic. Do not imprison people for no reason. If you want to imprison them, clarify their charges and try them first.”
Since the massive fraud in Iran’s 2009 presidential election and the eruption of large-scale protests in the country, Ayatollah Dastgheib has been a constant critic of Iranian authorities including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The cleric, who also has a seat in the Assembly of Experts—the body in charge of appointing and ousting the leader—is considered to be an outspoken supporter of Iran’s opposition Green Movement and its leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi.
During the aftermath of the electoral coup, Ayatollah Dastgheib called for an emergency meeting of the Assembly of Experts to discuss the conduct of the country’s leadership and its handling of the post-election unrest. The “green cleric” has also voiced his opposition against the illegal house arrest of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi which began on 14 February 2011.
In the past two years, other senior figures in Iran’s religious heartland Qom have also expressed similar sentiment, saying that the regime was neither Islamic nor a republic.
 A Marja is the highest authority on religious law and jurisprudence in Shiite Islam.