Injury to the Majesty of the Islamic Republic


Published in “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”, September 15, 2009

By T. Avenarius
Clerics in Iran demand explanations for the violence imposed on the opposition – also from spiritual leader Khamenei himself.

Iran’s judiciary takes to court more opponents of the regime, while at the same time the spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, himself faces pressure from parts of the establishment who demand explanations. As was reported, a film maker who was until now known to stand behind the regime is now said to have addressed Khamenei, saying: “Your security forces did shoot, kill and beat people, destroy their property. Your share in the responsibilities for these actions must not remain unnamed”, wrote Mohammad Nourizad in an open letter which, according to the news agency Associated Press, was published on the internet.

To demand an excuse from Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the country who has the last word on all political and religious questions, in the Islamic Republic is a form of injury to the Majesty. It shows to what extent Khamenei’s authority has been damaged by the events of the last months. As it said, Nourizad had pointed out that until now he had been supporting Khamenei, now, however, the freedom of speech was in danger. As the film maker continued: “You as the most powerful man of the nation have not admitted even one single mistake.”

In Iran, after the controversial presidential election of June 12, massive protests against the alleged victory of the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had taken place. Police and pro-regime militias have confronted the opposition members in a violent crackdown, many were arrested, detained and tortured.

Meanwhile, even renowned Shia clerics have come forth against the regime with even more lucid criticism. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, for example, called on his high ranking colleagues to finally take up a stance on the recent incidents: “In the eyes of the people, their oppression is a violation of Islam. How is it possible that the highest ranking clerics remain silent?”
Montazeri, who is a renowned theologian, had been one of the close fellows of the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. He was supposed to be his successor, but was sidelined. For a long time he has been critical about Khamenei.

Also, a grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, who in Iran is worshipped like a saint, has showed his disapproval. Hasan Khomeini paid a visit to an opposition member right after his release from prison: Ali Reza Beheshti, who as well descended from a well-known clerical family, is the advisor of opposition leader Mousavi. Even before that, Hasan Khomeini had snubbed the controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: On occasion of a ceremony he had refused to greet the President at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Such criticism emerging from clerical circles for the leadership of the Islamic Republic around Khamenei and Ahmadinejad bears more explosive potential than the conflict with a secular-acting opposition: It can question the basis of the foundations of the regime.


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