Staging Mousavi's Arrest?
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
13 Dec 2009 06:34
The hardliners immediately reacted to the broadcast. Young clerics denounced the insult and announced that they would gather at Fayzieh School in Qom, where Ayatollah Khomeini used to teach, and from where many cleric-led demonstrations against the Shah commenced before the 1979 Revolution.
But the reformists and the leaders of the Green Movement appeared to know what was going on and quickly responded to the developments. First, Kalame, the official Mousavi website, warned people that "new events are planned and coming." It said that the Ayatollah Khomeini insult and the wave of propaganda that followed were all planned. They were staged to justify the subsequent actions the hardliners would take. It said people should be careful and remain alert and abreast of the latest developments.
In an interview with the daily newspaper, Jomhouri Eslami [Islamic Republic], Mousavi said that the broadcast was suspicious and that he was certain that those who support him would never insult Ayatollah Khomeini.
Norooz, the official site of the Islamic Iran Participation Front [the largest reformist group], warned that Mousavi could be arrested at any time. The popular Balatarin website cited reports from "informed sources," saying that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was very angry that the country had not calmed down six months after the election. According to Norooz, the hardliners seem to have concluded that the only way to calm the country was by arresting Mousavi. How they will achieve such a goal is unclear.
Mehdi Karroubi, another main leader of the Green Movement, wrote a strong letter to Ezzatollah Zarghami, head of the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic (the national network of radio and television). "It appears that some people are intentionally trying to make a bad name for the legitimate protests of the people that began after the election, in order to pave the way for those who think about nothing but breaking the law and violently cracking down on the people," he said in the letter.
Mohammad Ali Khosrawi, deputy head of the organization that is in charge of preserving and publishing the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini [the head of the organization is his grandson, Hassan Khomeini], also wrote to Zarghami and strongly protested what the Voice and Visage had done. He said that, "Even if the incident did happen, the insult was committed by the Voice and Visage, which broadcast it. People understand everything. They know that Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami are the true longtime followers of Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini], and more than anyone else are sensitive about this [the insult] and, therefore, what has happened has nothing to do with them."
The Facebook page of Mehdi Karroubi has also asked people to be alert. It has also suggested the path and places in Tehran for demonstrations, in case he and other leaders of the Green Movement are arrested.
Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, one of the most ardent supporters of the Green Movement, said that, "Those who have hit a wall [in their crackdown on the people] now draw from their investment in Imam. They burn his posters and then say that others have done it. But true students never do that. We know the history. We know about setting fire on Cinema Rex in Abadan [in southern Iran] and Jame' Mosque in Kerman [in south central Iran]."
The reference to Cinema Rex harks back to the summer of 1978, when religious hardliners set the movie theater on fire that killed 400 people. At that time, most people thought that the Shah's security forces had committed the crime, but it turned out that it was the hardliners who had done it, in order to provoke people. The fire in Jame' Mosque was also started with the same goal.
Several reformist deputies in the Majles also accused the Voice and Visage of intentionally showing the alleged insult in order to provoke people's emotions. They included the deputies from Eelam (in western Iran), Shahr-e Kord [in southwester Iran], Zanjan [in western Iran], and Marand and Jolfa in northwestern Iran. They all blamed Voice and Visage for what happened.
Interestingly, students at the University of Tehran also demonstrated against the apparent insult. But they were supporters of the Green Movement, carrying green banners, and chanting against the Voice and Visage.
On the other hand, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, Iran's Prosecutor-General, warned that the judiciary will not have any mercy on the demonstrators and those who "break the law." He said that the judiciary was not tough at the beginning, but now that everything is velar [meaning that it has become clear who supports whom], the judiciary will get tough. He also said that he hopes that Mousavi will be persecuted.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Minister of Intelligence, Heidar Moslehi, strongly attacked former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, now head of the Expediency Council [a Constitutional body that mediates between Majles and the Guardian Council] for saying a few days ago that, "If people do not want us [the ruling elite], we would have to go." Moslehi also attacked Rafsanjani for saying that, "My position is what I expressed in the Friday Prayers [in Tehran on July 18]." "Unfortunately," Moslehi said, "he [Rafsanjani] says the same things that the leaders of the conspiracy [Green Movement] also say."
The high command of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) just issued a statement in which it demanded that the judiciary punish severely those who have insulted Ayatollah Khomeini, and attributed the incident to foreign powers.
A few days ago, Ali Saeedi, Ayatollah Khamenei's representative to the IRGC, acknowledged that the gap between Ayatollah Khamenei and the people had increased greatly, and expressed concerns about it. Mohammad Mohammadian, Ayatollah Khamenei's representative to the universities, also stated a few days ago that, "Polls indicate that more than 70% of the students voted for someone [Mousavi] who is not part of the government. This is the reality, and we have no way but accepting it." It is against such a background that people such as Mohseni Ejei have started talking about getting tough on the protesters and those who are not willing to accept the legitimacy of the June 12 election.
The incident with Ayatollah Khomeini's poster is reminiscent of what happened in May 1997, when Mohammad Khatami was running for the presidency. The hardliners distributed a video in the country that supposedly showed that the supporters of Khatami were dancing and signing on the afternoon of Ashura, the day commemorating events on October 10, 680 A.D., when the Shia's third Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, fought bravely against those who opposed him and was killed. Imam Hussein is a most revered figure in Iran, and people mourn his murder on Ashura Day every year. The video was intended to show that Khatami's supporters did not care about Islamic and Shiite traditions. It turned out, however, that the video had been produced by the hardliners themselves.
In a related development, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, a conservative cleric, did not allow the hard-line clerics to gather at Motahhari School in Qom to demonstrate against the Khomeini insult. He heads the School, and asked the clerics to leave.
Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau