Mousavi counters Khamenei
21 Jul 2009 00:40
Rafsanjani's sermon prompts more threats from Khamenei. Mousavi shows no signs of relenting.
By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 20 July 2009
Three days after Friday prayers, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's sermon continues to make waves. As expected, the reformists and their allies praised the sermon, though some complained that Rafsanjani's criticism of the status quo should have been stronger. The hardliners, on the other hand, have reacted angrily.
The hardline daily, Kayhan, a mouthpiece of the security forces, criticized Rafsanjani. Kayhan said that even though Rafsanjani was known as a shrewd politician, his sermons showed no signs of shrewdness. It said he repeated the same baseless and irrational claims of the reformists about the elections but presented no evidence. It went on: He supported those who break the laws; he failed to condemn attacks by the demonstrators on people, their property, and the killing of innocent people. Kayhan said that Rafsanjani claimed that the country was in a crisis, whereas what we have is a conspiracy to create crisis and chaos.
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a member of the Guardian Council and head of the Society of Qom's Seminary School Teachers, a right-wing organization, attacked Rafsanjani and questioned his authority.
Yazdi criticized Rafsanjani's call for the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners; he also said the former president's speeches before and after the election aided "the rioters" in their actions.
As a member of the Guardian Council, Yazdi violated the law by explicitly endorsing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the election. Abbas Palizdar, once an ally of Ahmadinejad, accused Yazdi and his son of stealing close to $600 million in public money. (Therefore, as many reformists have pointed out, Yazdi must take extreme positions against them, in order to placate the hardliners.)
Most recently, even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at Rafsanjani's two sermons (without naming any names). That was almost immediately countered by Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main reformist candidate in the recent presidential election, and the leader of the democratic Green Movement.
Meeting with mainly conservative politicians on the occasion of the anniversary of the Mab'as (the day Muslims believe Mohammad was appointed as the Prophet by God), Ayatollah Khamenei said,
There are various views in society which are expressed [by their believers], but when the nation feels that it is a problem of enmity [by foreigners and their agents] toward the political system [rather than expressing views] and there is a [foreign] hand that wishes to hit the system, people distance themselves from it, even if they [the foreigners] chant the same slogans as they do.
In other words, Ayatollah Khamenei is saying that after it became clear that the demonstrations and protests were no longer a tool by which the people expressed their views, but one for the foreigners to meddle in Iran's internal affairs, the people stopped their demonstrations, and only the rioters (linked to the foreign powers) have continued these protests.
Ayatollah Khamenei then took his customary line, namely, blaming everything on the "enemy" (a fictional entity that he cannot name or identify):
The enemies of the nation claim that they do not meddle in Iran's internal affairs, but their interference, particularly [through] their means of mass communication, is clear.
The Ayatollah then differentiated between the "people" and the "rioters" and said,
The worst sin is disturbing the security of the nation. If any person, regardless of his position and excuse, pushes the society towards insecurity, that person is rejected by society.
And, in a direct response to Rafsanjani, the Ayatollah warned that,
The elite must be aware that anything that it says and any analysis that it presents that disturb the security of the country is against the nation and the path it has taken [for advancement]. Everyone must watch what they do and say, even the things that they do not say, because not saying what must be said is shirking duty, and saying what must not be said is acting against one's duty. They [the elite] must realize that they are being tested [by the nation]. If they fail the test, it will, in fact, be their downfall, not just a failure [as in a test].
With this passage, Ayatollah Khamenei threatened the elite -- presumably Rafsanjani, the reformists and other dissidents -- who in their struggle against him and his supporters stand to lose everything.
Mousavi responded just as strongly, and made it clear that he will not retreat from the positions he has taken. Meeting the families of some of the imprisoned political leaders on the occasion of the Mab'as, Mousavi said,
You [the families of those who have been jailed] are not alone. The entire nation represents the families of the political prisoners, because they have been imprisoned for defending the ideals and principles of the nation. This [imprisonment of the political figures and protesters] is a national problem and will remain so.
He then warned that jailing people will entail paying a heavy price:
We need to have a broader perspective in order to understand the price that is being paid [for imprisoning the reformist leaders]. We are after an Islamic, religious, but free society, one in which people decide their own fate and can move down a path that helps them realize their ideals and wishes.
Mousavi then told the hardliners that their accusations against the jailed leaders are bogus:
Many of the prisoners are well-known and have served the political system and the country for years. Who is going to believe that they colluded with foreigners to sell out the country's national interests? Is this not an insult against the nation? Is this not an insult against the 40 million voters? Is this not an insult against university students, professors, the elite, and the hard-working leaders and managers of the nation?
Unfortunately, a speaker at a Friday prayer claims that the confessions [by the jailed people that they have colluded with foreign powers] are being obtained; [he says that] if they serve the public interests, they will be broadcast, and that [broadcasting the confessions] will be the end of the problem [of the protests and complaints against the election].
But, we [the protesters] say that you [the hardliners] are confronting the awakening of a nation. Our nation has been reborn, and is defending its rights. By arresting people and making bogus cases against them, you will not be able to solve the problem. End this game [jailing people and torturing them to confess], and return the nation's children to the nation.
Mousavi then criticized the Voice and Visage (VaV) of Iran (the national radio and television network, controlled by the hardliners), which was also criticized by Rafsanjani on Friday:
The image [of the protesters] that we are shown by the VaV is not acceptable. The VaV does not help move [the nation] in the direction of national interests. They [the hardliners] are holding the guns and have released the dogs [the Basij militia and plainclothes security agents, to attack people]. They bring some to VaV to make false accusations, lie, insult the people, and create false myths [about the protesters and imprisoned people] in order to prepare the environment [for harsher crackdowns and oppression], while 13 million people according to your own counting, and the majority, according to us, cannot defend themselves. The lies and accusations are [constantly] being repeated like commercials [on the national television]. The society's conscience demands that we have an independent and national VaV [not a biased one]. When there is no possibility of debate [and responding to the accusations] in the VaV, the pressure [for obtaining news and objective analysis] will manifest itself elsewhere, and the people turn to the foreign press and means of mass communication [to obtain correct news and objective analysis].
Mousavi then provided a glimpse into one of the bogus cases against the reformists:
In a bogus case [against an aid to Mousavi] he is being pressured to tell them [the interrogators] what he did with the 4 billion toumans [$4 million] that he had received, whereas the total cost of our campaign was less than 3.5 billion toumans [$3.5 million]. Since these people have [illegally] spent a lot of money [from the state budget], they are searching for our financial resources.
Mousavi then spoke about his newspaper Kalameh Sabz (Green Word) that has been shut down by the hard-liners:
Mr. Shahroudi [Ayatollah Sayyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the judiciary chief] tells us that Kalameh Sabz has not been legally closed, and can [go on] being published. We say that if it is not closed, then why have its offices been closed and sealed, and why have its staff been jailed? The problem is one of lacking any law [acting unlawfully]. No one is responsive to the people, and we protest against such unlawful acts. None of these actions [by the hardliners against the reformists] has been legal. We must carry out the articles and provisions of the Constitution [that guarantees the freedom of the press, and forbids jailing people without any charges].
Repeating the theme that the rigged election has destroyed people's trust in the political system, Mousavi said,
Recovering people's trust [in the political system] has the highest priority, and must somehow be done. A government based on lack of trust is a weak government, and has no legitimacy; [such a government] makes concessions to the foreigners, which is not in the nation's national interests. A lot of [innocent] blood was spilled for establishing the political system, and a heavy price was paid. We should recall what the Revolution's martyrs wanted. Was the martyrs' message [goal] repression and filling up the jails [with political prisoners], or establishing democracy and giving the people the right to decide their own fate?
Mousavi then warned the hardliners that the protests will continue:
30 years after the Revolution, our nation has matured [politically] to the extent that it cannot be silenced using the pre-revolution methods [meaning force utilized by the Shah]. People must be able to express their opinion and protest freely. A free society in the country can protect it much better than any military force.
It is clear that nearly six weeks after the rigged election, Mousavi is as resolute as ever. He will not be forced into recognizing what the hardliners say is the result of the election and will continue to lead the Green Movement.
Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau