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Co-opting Quds Day

17 Sep 2009 12:0016 Comments

Kayhan's banner headline quotes from Ayatollah Khomeini: "I'm going to smack this government in the mouth."

By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 17 Sept 2009

Comment This year Quds Day has taken on additional significance. The Green Movement has called on its supporters to use the occasion to showcase the Movement's strength, since the demonstrations will take place all over Iran, and the hardliners could not cancel them. At the same time, due to the demonstrations being held everywhere in Iran, a strong turnout by the Green Movement's supporters will display its depth and breadth, and will provide an effective response to those critics who claim that the Movement is limited to the middle and upper classes in large cities.

All the important reformist leaders, including Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and former president Mohammad Khatami, have called on people to participate in the demonstrations, as has Rafsanjani. Formally, they have invited people to show up for the demonstrations to protest the occupation of Jerusalem by Israel, but it is clear that they have something else on their mind: To demonstrate once and for all the overwhelming strength of the reform/Green Movement not only the hardliners, but to the entire world.

All the reformists groups and political parties, including the leftist Association of Combatant Clerics, the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization, and Islamic Iran Participation Front, have asked people to participate in the demonstrations under the guise of the Quds Day protests. Other important clerics who support the reformists, including Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanaei, the outspoken critic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have also called on the people to come out for the demonstrations.

Perhaps the strongest call for participation in Quds day came from Hojatolleslam Sayyed Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini. In a thinly disguised rebuke of the hardliners, he announced that "Quds Day is International; it is not exclusive to Quds. It is a day for the oppressed to resist against the oppressors," implying that it is also a day of protest against repression and oppression in Iran. In effect, he was responding to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who, during his sermons in last Friday's prayer, declared that, "Quds Day is only for Quds [Jerusalem]."

The possibility of a great show of strength by the Green Movement has terrified the hardliners. The show would debunk their claim that the 85% of the eligible voters who voted in the rigged presidential election of June 12 did so to express their support for the political system, not as a peaceful way of making deep and lasting changes in Iran, as the reformists claim.

Thus, to prevent a strong show of strength, the hardliners have resorted to a manner of tricks. First, Mr. Rafsanjani will not be the leader of the Friday prayer in Tehran, which is conspicuous since he has led nearly every Quds Day Friday prayer during the Islamic Republic's 30-year history. It has been announced by hard-line news agencies that Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a hard-line cleric and supporter of Ahmadinejad, will lead the Friday prayer, and that Ahmadinejad himself will also speak.

A reliable source in Tehran told the author that the decision to set aside Rafsanjani was made by Ayatollah Khamenei himself. The last time that Mr. Rafsanjani led the Friday prayer in Tehran on July 17, at least 1.5 million people participated in the prayer, the largest of such gatherings since the heyday of the Revolution in 1979.

Second, the government announced that people can take today (Thursday, September 17) off -- the day before Quds Day -- as well as Saturday, the day before the Eid-el Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan (which will be on Sunday, September 20, and is a national holiday), in effect giving people a four-day vacation.

Third, in his sermons during last Friday prayer, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that, "Quds Day is for Quds [Jerusalem]; no other slogan should be used" on that day during the demonstrations. That was a signal to the security forces to prevent people from carrying any symbol or chanting any slogan that would indicate support for the Green Movement.

Fourth, all sorts of unfounded rumors began to spread, in order to discourage, and perhaps even scare, people from attending the demonstrations. They have included rumors of the imminent arrest of Karroubi and Mousavi, the cancellation of the Quds Day demonstrations, and similar rumors.

Another reliable source in Tehran told the author that there were three separate plans presented by the hardliners to Ayatollah Khamenei as to what to do about the Quds Day.

The police believed that by giving people today and Saturday off, a large number of people will take short vacations and large crowds will not show up, which will enable security forces to better control the masses.

The Ministry of Intelligence believed that Quds Day must be cancelled altogether, with the excuse being "preventing the rioters to abuse such a holy day." The body believed that it would be dangerous to hold the demonstrations, as they could easily spiral out of control.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) suggested to hold what is called in Iran as tazaahoraat-e masnouei (superficial demonstrations), whereby the IRGC would bring out a large number of the Basij militia members and peasants from the villages near Tehran in order to saturate the streets and prevent the formation of large groups of the Green Movement's supporters.

It appears that Ayatollah Khamenei and the hardliners are going to use a combination of the police and IRGC plans. He made this clear during his sermons in last Friday's prayer when he called for large demonstrations.

The Green Movement has called on its supporters not to pay any attention to any rumors. It has asked its supporters not to attend the Friday prayer, or at least its speeches and sermons, but participate in the demonstrations afterward. It has warned its supporters that security agents may try to provoke them into shouting radical slogans, in order to

be able to arrest them and disrupt their gatherings.

The government has granted a large number of visas to foreign reporters to travel to Tehran and attend the demonstrations. The goal is to put up a show of "unity" in order to demonstrate to the world that the country has passed the deep crisis gripping the country after the election, and is now back to normal.

The question is: How can a government that commits fraud in the election, uses violence to crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations protesting that fraud, and commits all sorts of other cruel and inhumane acts, such as rape, murder, stages Stalin-like show trials, shuts down reformist newspapers, and imprisons reformist leaders -- in short, brutally oppressing its own people -- actually claim to be supporting, and in solidarity with other oppressed people around the world, including the Palestinians?

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

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And yet again!! we have Dr. Sahimi and his RELIABLE sources back in Iran. I wonder why is it that only you enjoy such reliable sources and so many other critics of the IRI lack them, perhaps its because you have just left the country!! which is not true.

It is interesting to me that anytime you make a frivolus claim, you say that you have heard it from a reliable source!! God knows who that reliable source is!!

Of course the decision to replace Mr. Rafsanjani with Mr. Khatami has come from the top, who else could have decided that?!! But here we are again making such an obvious fact a secret passed on to you by your trusted sources. I bet CIA envies you!!

By the way, If I want to read the articles in Tehran Bureau it is my choice, and if I want to voice my concerns it is again my own personal choice. You cannot bully me into silence, perhaps the editor might choose to censor the comments and that will make the same as IRI.

As an Iranian living in Iran I ask you please not to distort the picture more than it already is.

Anna / September 17, 2009 8:21 AM

If you are to save Qud's day for democracy, to regain your precious freedom, to rise and rebuild your country, there must be willingness to sacrifice on the part of a united people for the common goal and the attainment of shared goals - a readiness to roll up your sleeves and put your shoulders to the wheel, a determination to resolve not to fail and prove yourselves worthy of this cause.

For I can assure you that, like you, you love your country: not for what it was, though it has seen greatness; not for what it is, though of this you are deeply proud; but what it someday can and through all your efforts, someday will be.

Be safe.

Thank you Dr. Sahimi.

shetty / September 17, 2009 9:59 AM


Nima Irani / September 17, 2009 11:52 AM


komail raza jaffery / September 17, 2009 3:46 PM

"The question is: How can a government that commits fraud in the election, uses violence to crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations protesting that fraud, and commits all sorts of other cruel and inhumane acts, such as rape, murder, stages Stalin-like show trials, shuts down reformist newspapers, and imprisons reformist leaders -- in short, brutally oppressing its own people -- actually claim to be supporting, and in solidarity with other oppressed people around the world, including the Palestinians?"

Finally somebody talks about it, it was about time!!!

Monique / September 17, 2009 4:32 PM

"The question is: How can a government that commits fraud in the election, uses violence to crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations protesting that fraud, and commits all sorts of other cruel and inhumane acts, such as rape, murder, stages Stalin-like show trials, shuts down reformist newspapers"

This is only a small part of what Islam is capable of. 1400 years of Arab GOD has not taught this nation anything.

Islam religion of ignorance.

Gooya / September 17, 2009 7:54 PM


I do not appreciate you insulting Islam and ALL Muslims constantly on this site. I am a practicing Muslim, and I do not believe even for a moment the Islam of the hardliners. But, we also have courageous and progressive Muslims, from Grand Ayatollahs Hossein Ali Montazeri and Yousef Sanei, to Dr. Mohsen Kadivar and others. All the courageous reformists leaders who are in jail are all practicing Muslims, as are a great number of ordaninary Iranians who also participate in the demonstrations and protests. So, in order to make contructive comments, I suggest that you distinguish and differentiate between the two groups. Also talking about "Arabs' God" is chauvinistic and inappropriate, in my opinion.

Over the past 20 years Christians have killed close to 2 million Muslims. I do not see you commenting about them. Why don't you talk about the God of those Christians who are responsible for the slaughter of 2 million people just over the past two decades alone?

I do not see you coming here and also comment about hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans killed brutally by Christian missionaries, when they were trying to convert them.

I do not see you commenting on the plight of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis.

I do not see you commenting on the murder of Muslims in India at the hands of Hindus.

The point is every religion - not just Islam - has good and bad. We need to understand this.


If you live in Iran, how come your name is Anna? Or, is it a pseudo-nym?

But, let's say that you do live in Iran. You are also an Ahmadinejad supporter. Yet, from the first moment you came here you have been trying to extract from me my sources in Iran. I may be anything you say, but I am not stupid!

And, how do you know when was the last time that I was in Iran? You also have your "sources" knowing about me?

Of course, you can read the articles here. But, just do not expect your devoid-of-substance comments get much traction. I am sorry for being blunt, but that is how I see your comments.

Finally, why is it that in one line you say something that I say is obvious, but on the next line you call it frivolus?

Muhammad Sahimi / September 17, 2009 9:11 PM

Anna's comments (whoever this person is) should not be posted by the moderator. It is borderline harassment. This person does not state any opinions or disagreements in a positive way and basically there is no substance or content to her comments.

Anna, you either have a chip on your shoulder or you have something against Mr. Sahimi.

MM / September 17, 2009 9:49 PM

They got used to stealing things not belong to them. IRGC cautioned people not to carry any green sign! They plan to steal demonstration (like election) as a sign of support by later broadcasting it for the world and their supporters who are not in the scene. However, stake is high and it is a gamble.

Irani, / September 17, 2009 9:55 PM

I hope and pray that no lives are lost in your protests on Friday. But you must stand by and protect each other from the Basij and IRGC bullies. Freedom will prevail if you hold hands of your brothers and sisters in you fight for democracy and freedom. I wish you all the best in your couragous struggle. May God be with you always! Be safe

Lyle / September 17, 2009 10:36 PM

Muhammad Sahimi,

"I am a practicing Muslim, and I do not believe even for a moment the Islam of the hardliners. But, we also have courageous and progressive Muslims"

People can do anything in the name of religion. Christians, Jews have committed crime in the name of religion,

But, here is the problem, show me one prophet who encouraged war and killing? Mohammad encouraged his son in law Ali to behead war injured mercilessly.

9: 29 Slaughter those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His apostle nor acknowledge the religion of truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book until they pay the Jizya with willing submission and feel themselves humiliated.

47:4 "Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks, at length when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them) ... but if it had been God's will, he could certainly have exacted retribution from them (himself), but (he lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the way of God, he will never let their deeds be lost."

Practice what you believe in, but do not try to silence the voice opposing the filth brought to us by Arabs. I do not want the religion that was forced on me by sword and terror.

Gooya / September 18, 2009 8:14 AM

Is Anna...Anna? Or is she Khamenei's "Bandanna"?

The "Green Movement" will prevail...till this shower of "Despots" trip on their "Tails"!

Jaker / September 18, 2009 9:45 AM


You are entitled to your opinion. You should also express them. I did not imply in any shape or form that you should not.

However, respectful criticism - valid or not - is vastly different from demonizing all Muslims and their religion, which is what you do. If you are not capable os understanding this simple fact, then, with all due respect, that is your problem, not mine. The same demonizing led to the invasion of Iraq, to slaughter of Muslisms in Bosnia, and is currently used against other Muslims.

For every verse, such as those that you quote in your comment, that you can quote from Quran, I can bring to your attention similar verses from the Old and New Testaments. You have only learned the couple that you mentioned because of your animosity towards Islam.

Muhammad Sahimi / September 18, 2009 5:09 PM

I for one stand in fascination of what is happening in Iran, and the depth offered here in understanding it. It is very easy to sit in Egypt or Iraq or Pakistan and imagine an Islamic State, without the clash of personalities, or inherent contradictions that the imagination can scoot past without notice.

They are not special that way, such imaginations still seek for Israel to be such a Jewish State and for the US to be such a Christian State, even folk from Hindu to the Khemer Communists, had such visions. The religion itself is not the point.

The point is that only Iran has established a stable and complex theocracy long enough for most of the population to experience it as the lifelong reality and not the imagination, but instead set the imagination to a secular state where religion instructed but did not rule.

In that vision both Islam and the secular state are superior to anything that now exists in either, and offer insights to both, of great value in the places where secular states exist but are under pressure from their own internal Theocrats. My own religion is too complex to explain, and my blog only hints, but I have learned much here worthwhile.

The sensibility and success of the non-violent tactics has been education and inspiration to us all, and anyone who understands what actual freedom is supports you.

Freedem, Orlando / September 18, 2009 10:43 PM

Mr Sahimi --

It's ridiculous how narrow-minded people can be. It's unfortunate that you have to waste your time replying to people like Anna and Gooya as if their minds will not remain narrow.

I appreciate your great work, as always.

Neda / September 19, 2009 12:15 AM

Gooya, you can find equally if not more reprehensible quotations from the Torah. It is also true that spitting on christians is a common and much complained about practice within contemporary Israel. The difference between these actions and those of the mullahs is that they are social convention/individual actions, whereas the mullahs (by their statement) are directed by god.

Adherents of all faiths need to learn to get along and accept one another. There is one god, just many forms of worship. However it must be said that the Islamic regime in Iran is destroying Islam, by its actions.

Zara / September 20, 2009 3:47 PM