“The Head of the Day”: Karroubi – a fearless mullah vs. Ahmadinejad

2010/02/15

Published in Austrian daily newspaper “Der Standard” on February 14 2010
Source (German): http://derstandard.at/1265852211538/Kopf-des-Tages-Furchtloser-Mullah-gegen-Ahmadi-Nejad

Mehdi Karroubi – formerly a member of the establishment, today a member of the opposition

Mehdi Karroubi (72) is the visible proof of the fact that in Iran there is no such thing as “the mullah regime” on the one side, and a secular opposition on the other. Karroubi is a turban bearer, and he is the most outspoken opponent of Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad’s presidency. The latter, by the way, is the first layman to hold the office of president of the Islamic Republic.

While Karroubi, the former chairman of the parliament and presidential candidate, in the early days of the protests following the elections in June was outshone by Mir Hossein Moussavi, the candidate who was more likely to win the election, he has long started to stand out as the more fearless personality. With powerful eloquence he phrases his outrage about the “savages” that the regime unleashes on the people of Iran. Not even the Shah would have dared to shed the blood of his own people on Ashura, the holiest Shiite holiday – says a man who participated in the revolution of 1979. And it was Karroubi who revealed the regime’s crimes against detainees. Recently, even his own son Ali fell victim to abuse.

Which is a clear warning: Karroubi has meanwhile virtually been outlawed. Again and again, attackers appear from nowhere, just like last Thursday, on the sidelines of the ceremonies of the anniversary of the Revolution. His bodyguards have been removed, he depends on his family and friends to protect him. Karroubi’s wife Fatemeh, just like his other sons, publicly supports him.

Karroubi, who was born into a clerical family in Lorestan/Western Iran, was imprisoned 9 times under the Shah. As a member of the Islamic leftists, he headed several associations and foundations after 1979. He was a member of parliament, and in 1990 became its chairman for the first time, fighting many a battle with President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who, in Karroubi’s view, with his policy of economical opening deviated too far from Khomeini’s path.

In 2000, he was once more elected chairman of the parliament – to the displeasure of the reformists who in 1997, when Mohammad Khatami became President, had begun to see their chance. However, Karroubi turned out to be one of them. In 2005 he for the first time ran for presidency. The winner’s name, however, was Ahmadi Nejad, and Karroubi already then accused him of trickery. In protest, he stepped down from his post in the Expediency Council, and dedicated himself to his party Etemad-e Melli. In 2009 he ran for presidency again – and the farce turned into a tragedy.

(Gudrun Harrer/DER STANDARD, print edition of 15. February 2010)

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