Los Angeles Times

Iran's 'city of mullahs' has a surprising side

QOM, Iran _ Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this city was pious and sedate.

The late Iranian American poet Nader Naderpour once listed as its main features "women with scarves over their heads, men clad in clerical robes, a single golden dome, old storks in the sky, one spiritless garden, a handful of lonely trees."

Qom became the bedrock of Iran's theocracy and remains one of the country's holiest places _ home to 200,000 religious scholars, a destination for Shiite Muslim pilgrims and a center of Islamic thought in a country whose political system is

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