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Iranian President's Swift Exit From Khamenei-Led Prayers Raises Questions

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani made a swift exit from the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-led Friday prayers on January 17, with video showing Rouhani standing and moving to leave as Khamenei continued to pray immediately in front of him.

Rouhani’s action was commented on by hundreds of social media users. “President Rouhani leaves the Grand Mossalla while Ayatollah Khamenei was still praying,” tweeted Brookings Institute fellow Ranj Alaaldin. “Not a good look and clearly all is most certainly not well in the Islamic Republic.”

In a rare address, Khamenei defended the country’s military and the Republican Guard after its shooting down of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 on January 8. “Our enemies were as happy about the plane crash as we were sad,” he said. It was Khamenei’s first time to address the nation from the Grand Mosalla mosque in Tehran since 2012. Credit: ISNA via Storyful