Archive for the ‘revolution’ Category

Ayatollah Jannati calls for more Iranian activists to be executed

January 29, 2010

According to a report by the Associated Press, hard-line Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati has called for more activists to be executed to stifle and silence opposition protests.

During a Friday prayer sermon, Jannati reportedly said the clerical leadership’s opponents must be killed “for the sake of God” and that Islam permits rulers to execute “hypocrites.”

Eleven opposition members have recently been sentenced to death–two of which were executed Thursday.

All this just adds to the regime’s decreasing legitimacy. An Islamic regime, whose legitimacy supposedly comes from God and religious teachings such as patience and pacifism yet who in practice crackdown, censor information, detain people baselessly, stifle any dissent and execute people trying to voice their opinions, will not be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the people.

Even the people who fought for the 1979 revolution now see that their dreams and hopes for what the revolutionary regime would achieve (including getting rid of corruption, financial equality and getting rid of absolute authority) have not been carried out. The Iranian people did not fight for a regime that was wrought with corruption, that held a heavy hand in censorship, that fostered high unemployment and inflation rates, a foreign policy that isolated itself from the rest of the world and placed heavy restrictions and limitations on its own people. It is for this reason that now, there is a widening divide between the leadership itself.

As Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy points out, there is a difference between Muslims and Islamists. Following this logic, the Iranian regime is not a Muslim/Islamic regime but instead a follower of the political Islamism ideology.


Behind the Scenes

June 26, 2009

Section of article entitled, “Iran’s Election Drama More Elaborate than you Think,” by Muhammad Sahimi.

“Ayatollah Khomeini’s death had another long-term consequence whose effect is felt today. It made it possible for a reactionary Islamic group to reemerge. The group, called the Hojjatiyeh Society, was founded in the 1950s and was fiercely opposed to the Bahai faith and the Sunni sect of Islam, and it even worked with the shah’s secret service to stymie the spread of Communism in Iran. It also opposed the 1979 Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini’s concept of Valaayat-e Faghih (governance of the Islamic jurist), the foundation of Iran’s constitution and political system. Ayatollah Khomeini banned the Hojjatiyeh in 1983 and famously said of them that ‘they cannot run even a bakery, let alone a country.’

After its reemergence in the early 1990, the name Hojjatiyeh was never used. Its members began advocating an Islamic government led by an unelected supreme leader, rather than an Islamic Republic. Their present leader is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a hard-liner and reactionary cleric who has openly opposed any meaningful elections and is Ahmadi-nejad’s spiritual leader.

Ayatollah Mesbah, as he is called in Iran, once said, ‘It does not matter what people think. They are ignorant sheep.’ He believes that the supreme leader is selected by God, and the task of the ayatollahs who are members of Iran’s Assembly of Experts (a constitutional body that chooses the supreme leader) is to discover him. Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has referred to Ayatollah Mesbah’s followers as the ‘shallow-thinking traditionalists with Stone-Age backwardness.'”

In Iran, One Woman’s Death May Have Many Consequences

June 22, 2009

In Iran, One Woman’s Death May Have Many Consequences
By Robin Wright Sunday, Jun. 21, 2009

Iran’s revolution has now run through a full cycle. A gruesomely captivating video of a young woman — laid out on a Tehran street after apparently being shot, blood pouring from her mouth and then across her face — swept Twitter, Facebook and other websites this weekend. The woman rapidly became a symbol of Iran’s escalating crisis, from a political confrontation to far more ominous physical clashes. Some sites refer to the woman as Neda, Farsi for “the voice” or “the call.” Tributes that incorporate startlingly up-close footage of her dying have started to spring up on YouTube.

Although it is not yet clear who shot Neda (a soldier? a pro-government militant? an accidental misfiring?), her death may have changed everything. The cycles of mourning in Shi’ite Islam actually provide a schedule for political combat — a way to generate or revive momentum. Shi’ite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and these commemorations are a pivotal part of Iran’s rich history. During the revolution, the pattern of confrontations between the Shah’s security forces and the revolutionaries often played out in 40-day cycles.
(See pictures of violence used as intimidation in Iran.)

The first clashes in January 1978 produced two deaths that were then commemorated on the 40th day in mass gatherings, which in turn produced new confrontations with security forces — and new deaths. Those deaths then generated another 40-day period of mourning, new clashes and further deaths. The cycle continued throughout most of the year until the Shah’s ouster in January 1979.

The same cycle has already become an undercurrent in Iran’s current crisis. The largest demonstration, on June 18, was called by opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi to commemorate the deaths of protesters three days after they were killed.

Shi’ite mourning is not simply a time to react with sadness. Particularly in times of conflict, it is also an opportunity for renewal. The commemorations for Neda and the others killed this weekend are still to come. And the 40th-day events are usually the largest and most important.

Neda is already being hailed as a martyr, a second important concept in Shi’ism. With the reported deaths of 19 people on June 20, martyrdom provides a potent force that could further deepen public anger at Iran’s regime.
(See the top 10 players in Iran’s power struggle.)

The belief in martyrdom is central to modern politics as well as Shi’ite tradition dating back centuries in Iran. It, too, helped propel the 1979 revolution. It sustained Iran during the eight-year war with Iraq, when more than 120,000 Iranians died in the bloodiest modern Middle East conflict. Most major Iranian cities have a martyrs’ museum or a martyrs’ cemetery.

The first Shi’ite martyr was Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. He believed it was better to die fighting injustice than to live with injustice under what he believed was illegitimate rule.

In the 7th century, Hussein and a band of fewer than 100 people, including women and children, took on the mighty Umayyad dynasty in Karbala, an ancient city in Mesopotamia now in modern-day Iraq. They knew they would be massacred.

Fourteen centuries later, Hussein’s tomb in Karbala is one of the two holiest Shi’ite shrines — millions of Iranians make pilgrimages there every year. Just as Christians re-enact Jesus’ procession bearing the cross past the 14 stops to Calvary before his crucifixion, so, too, do Shi’ites every year re-enact Hussein’s martyrdom in an Islamic passion play during the holy period of Ashura.

Because of Hussein, revolt against tyranny became part of Shi’ite tradition. Indeed, protest and martyrdom are widely considered duties to God. And nowhere is the practice more honored than in Iran, the world’s largest Shi’ite country.

The revolutionaries exploited the deep passion of martyrdom as well as the timetable of Shi’ite mourning in whipping up greater opposition to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. With the deaths of Neda and others, they may now find the same phenomena used against them.,8599,1906049,00.html

Shots fired at huge Iran protest

June 22, 2009

Shots fired at huge Iran protest

Huge crowds cheered Mir Hossein Mousavi when he appeared at the rally

Shots have been fired during a massive rally in Iran against last week’s presidential election results, with reports saying one person was killed.

Hundreds of thousands rallied to support candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, but a group of them was fired on from a militia base they had surrounded.

Mr Mousavi has lodged a legal appeal against the result but says he is not optimistic it will succeed.

US President Barack Obama has said he is “deeply troubled” by the violence.

On Monday evening, in his first public comments since the election results, he said that free speech and the democratic process must be respected in Iran.

See map of Tehran protests

The BBC’s Jon Leyne, in Tehran, says Monday’s rally was the biggest demonstration in the Islamic republic’s 30-year history and described it as a “political earthquake”.

Mr Mousavi says the vote was fixed – a claim President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies.

The government had outlawed any protest following two days of unrest, with the interior ministry warning that “any disrupter of public security would be dealt with according to the law”.

Despite this, correspondents said riot police had been watching the rally during the afternoon and had seemed to be taking no action.

The first indications of trouble came at about 2045 local time (1615 GMT), when the protesters were beginning to disperse from Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square.

“There has been sporadic shooting out there… I can see people running here,” Reuters quoted a reporter from Iran’s Press TV as saying.

“A number of people who are armed, I don’t know exactly who they are, but they have started to fire on people causing havoc in Azadi Square.”

A photographer at the scene told news agencies that security forces had killed one protester and seriously wounded several others. A man is said to have been arrested over the shooting.

He said the shooting began when the crowd attacked a compound used by a religious militia linked to the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Other sources told the BBC as many as six people might have died in the incident.

The AFP news agency reported that police fired tear gas and groups of protesters set motorbikes alight.

A BBC correspondent said there had also been gunfire in the north of the city – traditionally an anti-government stronghold – and that the security forces appeared to be hunting down protesters.

There was a large police presence on major streets of the city on Monday night, but evidence of few ordinary people, our correspondent added.

Ayatollah’s intervention

Earlier, the demonstrators had gathered in Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Square, chanting pro-Mousavi slogans, before marching to Azadi Square.

“Mousavi we support you. We will die, but retrieve our votes,” they shouted, many wearing the green of Mousavi’s election campaign.

And Mr Mousavi eventually appeared, addressing the crowd from the roof of his car.

“The vote of the people is more important than Mousavi or any other person,” he told his supporters.

His wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a high-profile supporter of her husband’s campaign, later said they would keep up their protests. “We will stand until the end,” she told the AFP.

The renewed protests come after Mr Mousavi and fellow defeated candidate Mohsen Rezai filed official complaints against the election result with the Guardian Council – the country’s powerful clerical group.

State television reported that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has upheld the election result, urged the Guardian Council to “precisely consider” the complaints.

The 12-member council is due to meet Mr Mousavi and Mr Rezai on Tuesday.

Its head said the decision would be taken soon.

“I hope it will not take long that the noble people will see that the question has been examined in the best way and we will give the result to the people,” Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati told state television on Monday.

But the Iranian leadership has put itself in an impossible position, our Tehran correspondent says.

He says that Ayatollah Khamenei has given his complete endorsement to the election result and to President Ahmadinejad, and by doing so he has put at risk the very foundations of the Islamic republic.

And Mr Mousavi’s website quoted him as telling crowds on Monday that he was “not very optimistic” about the judgment of the Guardian Council.

“Many of its members during the election were not impartial and supported the government candidate,” Mr Mousavi said.

Dozens of opposition activists have been arrested since the protests began, while internet sites appear to have been blocked and the media heavily restricted.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was following the situation closely.

“The position of me and the United Nations is that the genuine will of the Iranian people should be fully respected,” he told reporters.

EU foreign ministers expressed “serious concern” and called for an inquiry into the conduct of the election, while France and Germany each summoned their Iranian ambassadors to explain what was going on.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised the use of “completely unacceptable” force against protesters and called for a “transparent evaluation of the election result”.

Groups of Ahmadinejad supporters gathered outside French and British embassies in Tehran, protesting against what they consider to be foreign interference in Iran’s affairs.

“We have gathered here to protest the hidden interference of the Brits and the world, who are trying to create chaos in our country,” one protester said.

The French government issued a statement saying they had told Iranian diplomats that security forces “must protect the French embassy”.

Among the countries congratulating Mr Ahmadinejad on his victory were Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela and North Korea.