“‘Death to America’ is not a verse in the holy book of Koran and there is no logic in chanting it for ever,” Sheikh Mohammad Taghi Rahbar told the Ghanoon daily newspaper.
“Just like the slogan of ‘Death to Soviet Union’ that we used to chant in the old days, this chant of ‘Death to the US’ can be removed from our political gatherings.”
But Ahmad Khatami, a noted hardliner and leading ayatollah, publicly rebelled against the move. “As long as there is American evil in the world, this slogan will endure across the nation,” he said.
Meanwhile former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key supporter of Mr Rouhani’s attempts to achieve detente with the West, was sharply criticised after he said the chant was harmful to Iran’s national interests.