"They are lying. Do not be fooled by them. Leave democracy alone," Ayat Allah Ahmad Jannati, who heads the powerful Guardians Council legislative vetting body, said in a Friday prayer sermon. 

"Islam calls for justice, and this is what we understand," he added, before citing Muslim Algeria as an example of the failure of democracy. 

"So do not forget: curse and death to America, since they do not believe in any thing except their own interests," said the cleric, who also sits on the Expediency Council, another powerful conservative-run oversight body. 

Khatami's comments

Jannati's comments came just a day after Khatami, a reformist cleric, made an address to a seminar on religious tolerance in
Geneva. 

"I think democracy is the only alternative. We can take it as Muslims," Khatami said. "We must accept this has been materialised in the West, we must accept this as Muslims." 

The embattled president, who has seen his reform agenda blocked by some conservative institutions like the Guardians and Expediency Councils, warned the alternative to democracy was authoritarian and despotic rule.