(AP) Iranian media are saying that university students invited to meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan harshly criticized the country’s direction.
The annual gathering of students typically sees some complaints but at least one speech on Monday night frankly discussed economic troubles Iran faces after US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal.
The pro-reform Mardomsalari daily quoted student Sahar Mehrabi as saying that “today, Iran is facing numerous crises.”
She mentioned “intensified systematic inequality in social classes, the decline of public trust and an increase in environmental crisis and shantytowns.”
Direct criticism of Khamenei, whom hardliners view as second only to God, is rare.
Khamenei acknowledged many of the shortcomings, saying “removing problems is not as easy” as students expect.
In recent months, Iran has been beset by economic problems.
Politicians now offer the idea of possible government referendums or early elections. Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged the depths of the problems ahead of the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
“Progress has been made in various sectors in the real sense of the word; however, we admit that in the area of ‘justice’ we are lagging behind,” Khamenei said in February, according to an official transcript. “We should apologize to Allah the Exalted and to our dear people.”