Iranian religious scholar Mohammad-Bagher Heydari Kashani said last week that Iranian children should aspire to be martyrs, and that each and every one of Iran’s offspring can become like former Quds Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

In an interview with Iran’s Channel 2 that aired on Sept. 8, Kashani said that 36,000 Iranian primary school students were killed in the Iran-Iraq War, and that these students, 7,070 of whom were under the age of 14, are a source of Iran’s pride and are God’s favorites.

“All the theoreticians in the world mistakenly believe that population size and growth are a symbol of power. … We’re talking about Islamic Iran, which needs to build a cadre and manpower for the movement that is expecting [the Hidden Imam]. We’re talking about Islamic Iran, where each and every one of its offspring can become [like] Hajj Qassem Soleimani,” said Kashani.

Many Iranians, said Kashani, were “ungrateful” for the “student martyrs” of the Iran-Iraq War.

“We must thank God for them,” he said. “They achieve a status in which they become God’s beloved, his favorites. Sometimes, we are the ones who love God, but other times, He is the one Who, in His divinity, falls in love with us. This is the horizon that our children should aim for.”

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