Mullahs joining the protests?

A new photograph out of Iran has some speculating that the Islamic power base of Ali Khamenei and the Guardian Council may be cracking.  This image, from, shows what appear to be imams joining a street protest.  As CNN points out, that is a statement against interests:

A photo showing Iranian clerics prominently participating in an anti-government protest speaks volumes about the new face of Iran’s opposition movement.

In a blatant act of defiance, a group of Mullahs took to the streets of Tehran, to protest election results that returned incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Whether these clerics voted for Ahmadinejad or one of the opposition candidates is unknown. What is important here, is the decision to march against the will of Iran’s supreme leader who called the results final and declared demonstrations illegal.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mullahs rule supreme. They are the country’s conservative clerics; the guardians of the Islamic revolution and its ideologies. They’re loyal only to God and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The main beneficiaries of mullah rule, besides Khamenei and his Guardian Council, are the mullahs in the cities and villages.  Their rule by extension from the Guardian Council allows them much more power than in a truly pluralistic society.  They have every reason to stay loyal to that power structure, especially if they have ambitions of moving into the “ruling class”, as Khamenei called it last week.

So why are these clerics marching with the opposition?  Perhaps they see a tipping point approaching for the regime, and they want to be on the right side of history, or at least not up against the wall after a revolution.  They’ve seen themselves what happens to deposed tyrants and their collaborators.   They may just legitimately see the corruption and oppression that smothers Iran and want a better future.

They could also be fakes, but why would anyone want to dress like a cleric in the middle of these protests?