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A second coup?

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

28 Dec 2009 22:2526 Comments
5zfsoyv.jpgOr a second coup?

[ comment ] Former president Mohammad Khatami called the June 12 election a "velvet coup" against the people of Iran. Now as the Green Movement gains momentum, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seems poised to stage a second such coup.

As predicted, the Green Movement came out in force on December 27, the day of Ashura. Even before the day had ended, the IRGC, its intelligence unit and the Ministry of Intelligence had rounded up political figures, journalists, university activists and others. The police announced the arrest of 1100 people in Tehran on Sunday alone.

In an apparent warning to the Reformist leaders, those arrested included their children and key aides:

Haleh Sahabi, a daughter of Ezatollah Sahabi, leader of the Nationalist-Religious Coalition; she had also been arrested after the rigged June 12 presidential election [there are also reports circulating that she has not been arrested];

Mohammad Taheri, a son of Ayatollah Seyyed Jalaloddin Taheri, a progressive cleric and close friend of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri;

Mohammad Moein, a son of Dr. Mostafa Moein, former Minister of Science and Research in the administration of Mohammad Khatami, a former Majles deputy, and a reformist candidate in the 2005 presidential election;

Habibollah Nouri, a brother of Abdollah Nouri, Khatami's Interior Minister and an outspoken reformist. In addition, his son Reza and nephew Mehdi have also been arrested, all in Isfahan, where it is estimated that up to 500 people were arrested yesterday.

Leila Tavassoli, a daughter of Mohammad Tavassoli, a leading figure of the Freedom Movement, a reformist group, and Tehran's first Mayor after the 1979 Revolution. Tavassoli is a niece of Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, the leader of the Freedom Movement.

Shahpour Kazemi, brother of Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi's wife. He had been imprisoned for two months, and has been given a one year sentence.

Ali Mehrdad of the Freedom Movement, and a son of Farideh Ghayrat, a leading member of Iran's Bar Association and a defense attorney for several prisoners.

In addition to these arrests, Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew, Seyyed Ali Mousavi Habibi, was shot dead on Ashura. Reports indicate that he had been threatened for several days prior to this religious holiday. His body was snatched by a security agent from Ibn Sina hospital and transferred to an unknown location.

Among the journalists arrested were:

Mostafa Izadi, who worked for the reformist daily Etemad [trust]. He was the founder and managing editor of Ava [sound], a reformist publication from 1997-2000. It was closed by the hardliners for "propagating [Grand Ayatollah] Montazeri's thinking." He has also published a book about Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

Dr. Alireza Beheshti, the managing editor of Kalame [word], Mousavi's official site. He is a son of Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Beheshti, a close aide of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the first judiciary chief after the 1979 Revolution killed in a bomb blast in June 1981.

Emad Baghi, the distinguished investigative journalist and head of the Society for the Defense of the Rights of the Imprisoned. He has already been jailed twice in the past. When he was arrested at his home today, he told his family that, "he would be strong in jail, and resist pressure [by hardliners]." The security agent arresting him reportedly responded that "He [Baghi] will not live that long to resist."

Morteza Kazemian, a reformist journalist who wrote for the daily Etemaad-e Melli [national trust] (before it was closed in July), and the Rooz news site.

Mahmoud (Mashallah) Shamsolvaezin, a distinguished reformist journalist.

Nasrin Vaziri, reporter for ILNA, the reformist news agency.

Kayvan Etemad, political editor of the daily Etemad [trust].

Reza Tajik, the journalist close to the Nationalist-Religious Coalition, and political editor of the reformist dailies Shargh [east] and Kargozaran [executives], which were closed by the hardliners.

Mohammad Javad Mozaffar, publisher and head of Kavir [desert], a publishing house.

Mohammad Javad Saberi, reformist journalist.

Badrolsadat Mofidi, reformist journalist and Secretary General of the Association of Iranian Journalists.

The university activists arrested include,

Dr. Mohammad Sadegh Rabbani, a retired chemistry professor at the University of Tehran, who was active in human rights issues;

Hashmatollah Tabarzadi, a university activist who has spent an aggregate of seven years in jail;

Mehdi Arabshahi, Secretary General of Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat [Office for Consolidation of Unity (OCU)], Iran's most important organization for university students;

Rashid Esmaili, a member of the central committee of the OCU;

Reza Nikookar and Mehdi Ebrahimi, two university activists at Sari University [in northern Iran], and

Twenty five university activists at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad [in northeastern Iran]; it is not even clear where they have been taken.

These are in addition to Majid Tavakoli and Milad Asadi, two well-known university activists who were arrested after large demonstrations on 16 Azar (December 7), Iran's Student Day. In addition, Salman Sima, Mehrdad Bozorg, and Kouhzad Esmaili, members of Advar-e Tahkim [an organization representing the graduates of the OCU] had been arrested a short time earlier. The president of Advar, journalist Dr. Ahmad Zeidabadi, and Abdollahh Momeni, a former president of the organization, have been languishing in jail for months.

Of those arrested, the following represent the second layer of leadership of the Green Movement (they are close aides and senior advisers to Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami):

Morteza Haji, former minister of education in the second Khatami administration, and head of BARAN, the NGO that Khatami established for promoting dialogue;

Reza Rasouli, deputy to Haji;

Ghorban Behzadinejad, Mousavi's campaign manager;

Mohammad Bagherian, a senior aide to Mousavi;

Ali Forouzandeh, Mousavi's Chief of Staff;

Dr. Ebrahimi Yazdi, leader of the reformist Freedom Movement, who was also arrested for three days after the June election as well;

Abolfazl Ghadyani, a member of the central committee of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization (one of the most important reformist groups), who was also active against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi before the 1979 Revolution;

Seyyed Abolfazl Mousavian, Secretary General of the Association of Teachers and Researchers of Qom, a reformist clerical organization.

Dr. Sayyed Hossein Mousavian, a leading member of the National Front.

Reports indicate that security agents had gone to the home of Mohsen Armin, the spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization, to arrest him, but he was not home. So his arrest appears to be imminent.

Even family members of those who lost their lives to political violence have not been immune from arrest. Zohreh Tonekaboni, Mahin Fahmini and her son Omid Montazeri have been arrested. Both women have been active in the Mothers for Peace group, an NGO for mothers who have lost children as a result of political violence or war. Fahmini's husband Hamid Montazeri was executed in the summer of 1988.

Mansoureh Shojaei, the women's right activist and co-founder of the Campaign
for One Million Signatures [a feminist movement], was arrested.

Dr. Noushin Ebadi, a dentist and professor at the medical school of Tehran's Azad University, and sister of Shirin Ebadi, was arrested. She had been under pressure for months to pursuade her sister to stop her activities.

At the same time, the regime's propaganda machine has been laying the foundation for a harsher and more violent crackdown on the Green Movement. The Guardian Council [a constitutional body that supervises elections and vets candidates] issued a harshly-worded statement demanding harsh punishment for those who 'insulted Islam and [made a mockery of] Ashura," and in particular the "leaders of the sedition," a reference to the Green Movement. This, in itself, represents a gross violation of the laws that govern the work of the Council, which is supposed to be totally neutral.

The IRGC, the high command of Mohammad Rasoulallah Corps of Tehran [which has played the most important role in the violent crackdown on the Green Movement], and the Organization for the Deprived [an organization for aiding poor people that is controlled by the hardliners] all issued statements, calling for the arrest and punishment of the "leaders of sedition." They have called on their supporters to stage a counter-demonstration on Wednesday. It is likely that during the demonstrations the demand for crackdown on the Green Movement and the arrest of Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami will be raised again, and a "resolution" in its support will be issued. More recently, the IRGC has called on its supporters to gather in front of Mousavi's office and stay there until he is arrested.

Right-wing Web sites and publications are replete with stories about "insults against Islam and Ashura." One even claimed that "the holy Qoran had been burnt" on the day of Ashura.

Hard-line Majles deputies had a meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Intelligence at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, December 27. An unidentified source called for the arrests of the "leaders of the sedition," a reference to the trio: Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami.

These events suggest that the hardliners wanted a bloody confrontation with the demonstrators on Ashura to justify a subsequent crackdown. As Mehdi Karroubi said in a strong statement that he issued last night, "Even the Shah respected Ashura and did not attack the demonstrators," a reference to Ashura in 1963 and 1978, when large demonstrations against his government were allowed to take place.

Ayatollah Mohammad Dastgheib, an ardent supporter of the Green Movement and a strong critic of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on the clerics to break their silence and protest the actions of the hardliners on its own people.

The coming days are going to be critical. The hardliners are tightening their rein over the leaders of the Green Movement. Earlier reports had indicated that the regime had postponed arresting the leadership of the movement. But the huge turnout for the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and subsequent demonstrations, as well as the events of Tasua and Ashura, demonstrated once again that the Green Movement has not been contained. In fact, despite a brutal six-month crackdown, it has grown and spread to many other parts of the country.

For the Movement to continue to grow, I believe people should not resort to violence. Bloody confrontation with security forces will have two very negative consequences for the Movement. First, it gives the hardliners justification to use violence on even a larger scale. If the fate of the current standoff between the people and the hardliners is to be decided by violence and violence only, the hardliners will defeat the Movement, since they have the instruments of coercion at their disposal.

Second, it may prevent members of the Ministry of Intelligence, and the Basij militia from breaking ranks and joining the protesters. The Green Movement will succeed when even the rank and file of the IRGC, Basij militia and intelligence agencies recognize that the rule of the hardliners is no longer tenable.

Updated, Tuesday December 29.

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau

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I disagree with in one respect; you seem to be calling on the Green Movement to act as passively nonviolent as the followers of MLK, as if there were something wrong with active self-defense. If that is what you are implying, it is incorrect and an insult to those on the ground in Iran.

On another note, you say, "The hardliners are tightening their rein over the leaders of the Green Movement." The mistake here is that the hardliners have no rein at all over the Green Movement. In fact, no one does, because all of the members of the movement are the leaders. One reason the leaders and media of the West are so nonplussed by the Green Movement is that there are none to give sound bites and through whom to attempt to control or influence events.

As for the regime's grip, the beauty of being like water is that the tighter one's oppressor grip the less he has in his hand.

Chuck Hamilton / December 29, 2009 2:49 AM

Mr. Sahimi,

Who are the leaders of the Green movement? Are they only students?
If Mr. Mousavi is still assumed in a position of leadeship and in lou of yesterday's events, can he lead the movement, despite his IR background against the very establishment of the Barbaric Republic? Would he and could he support Regime change? The Iranian people are no longer satisfied with anything less than a total removal of the Barbaric Regime.
Thank you for a very informative article.
God bless America, my home. God bless Persia, the home these barbarians have temporarily taken away from me.

Sohrab / December 29, 2009 3:04 AM

Although unrelated but it is important to bring to every Iranian's attention what is being brewed for them in certain circles:

{This is also the time for Western countries to accelerate clandestine backing for separatist forces in Iran. Selig S. Harrison, a renowned regional expert, writing in The New York Times, called the Kurdish, Arab and Azeri desire for autonomy the greatest threat to the Persian elite.}

Is this s scare tactic? Perhaps Mr. Sahimi can comment on it.

Where the territorial integrity of Iran is of concern, all Iranians must stand united to defend their country against foreign oppressive interests.
God bless America, my home. God bless Persia, the home these barbarians have temporarily taken away from me.

Sohrab / December 29, 2009 4:36 AM

It seems the movement is going to the right direction, radicalism the phenomena that the entire regime and those who are well known to the Iranian community, as proxies of the mullahs' regime afraid of.

Mossa Azadi / December 29, 2009 5:06 AM

Another 'interesting' article. It has become all too easy to read between the lines of these pro-reformists authors.

What we are supposed to ‘learn’ from this article is that (1) the regime (Islamic Republic) is too powerful and irresistible. (2) Even if the movement is able to dislodge the regime, Iran may be faced with disintegration. Strangely similar lines were heard towards the end of the previous regime (1979).

The conclusion we are supposed to reach is that it is best to negotiate with the regime and force it to put ‘reformers’ gang (Mousavi, Karoubi, Khatami and the boss Rafsanjani) in power.

Underneath it though, it is all about money and power. The reformer gang (read Rafsanjani mob) has been cheated out of their share of the loot ever since Ahmadinejad came to power. The money and power has been shifting from Rafsanjani’s Mafia style mob to the Fascist military-industrial complex, led by IRGC (Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps).

The mob line of thinking is based on the failed election attempt and the idea that people as a whole are happy with an Islamic Republic theocracy, provided it can be given a reform ‘face lift’. The mob, thru the spectacular Mousavi presidential campaign, tried to use people’s vote as a leverage to shift power. Up to that point, it was all about an internal feud between the two sides of the same crime family.

Well, they did too good a job on the campaign show; realizing that most people’s vote for Mousavi was a ‘protest’ vote, to spite the Clerical Custodian (correct translation of Khamenei’s title). The campaign and involvement of the youth had an unexpected effect on them: realizing their own power and the true nature of the whole regime: a regime of lies, deceit and corruption, harboring total disregard for human rights.

As it happens, the movement has already evolved beyond the point that it can be manipulated to fit one political group’s desire for money and power. It is possible that we are witnessing the beginnings of a TRUE revolution that has the potential to change social, cultural and economical make up of a nation suppressed by centuries of domination by Feudalists, Theocrats and Mongol invaders.

Maziar Irani / December 29, 2009 6:53 AM

Well said Chuck.

Hossein / December 29, 2009 7:05 AM

The more they murder, rape and take hostage the more family members of those people (lots of family Iranian style with cousins and uncles and aunts and people you call uncle) will seek vengeance and the destruction of this regime. Shock waves of anger will flow through the families, friends, neighbors, shopkeepers, bus drivers and people you call Uncle and Aunt as they tell the stories of injustice. (no internet needed for old fashioned Iranian gossip but videos and photos help)
Hence, regime will stop NOTHING with these arrests and more trials and murder will only prolong the the downfall.

The regime broke the golden two rules when dealing with an Iranian.
Rule number 1 don't piss off an Iranian. Rule number 2, see rule 1.
The story of Mossadegh and Kermet Roosevelt has dominated conspiracy theories in Iranian chai rooms but now people have a new story of injustice. In this version the way I see it:

Khamenei has become the US/ Britain/shah
Moussavi is Mossadegh(more credit then he deserves)
Khomenei is the Internet, yes Khomenei dissemented ideas via tapes (the latest technology at the time) these speeches were esentially speeches about things people were not permitted to speak about or strongly discouraged from talking about in public, steam gathered and revolution (oversimplifies)
The internet and technology have already enabled this generation to think for themselves and discuss online things they could not speak about in present society
And finally the angry mob, well they are still the angry mob (see rule 1 and 2)
Oh i forgot ahmadi well he is still the village idiot!

just a little bit of poetic justice/history repeating
Khamenei has dug his own grave as with most dictators he pushed to far and there is no turning back. .

Dr. Sahimi with all due respect new ideas please. For god sake your in California man!

PB / December 29, 2009 7:37 AM

They are not "hardliners". They are criminal tyrants.

Iranian / December 29, 2009 8:45 AM

Has the regime got the people surrounded or is it the other way around?

pirooz / December 29, 2009 8:50 AM

I am sorry that Iran is having to go through this. Clearly it's necessary, in the view of Iranians on the ground. I wish Iran success in emerging from this period as a better nation in the world, and a happier people at home. I hope that America will take some lessons from this, mainly being reminded of our freedoms and how we must protect them and give voice to our rejection of encroachments against hard-won freedom; and that America will learn something profound about the good people of Iran. The partial view I have from Twitter and Youtube and mainstream media (NY Times) seems to show the protest movement as carrying the torch of freedom forward, and doing so admirably. The courage and vivid expression of what they are about is an amazing phenomenon to watch in the process. But I am sorry and saddened that it is so painful for you Iranians on the ground. This is Iran's fight, of course, but when you emerge at the other end of this, you will be world leaders in the most important things that humankind offers. May peace and freedom arrive together, soon.

Jeff Kargel / December 29, 2009 8:55 AM


There is a difference between self-defense and adopting violence as an accepted tactic. The first one is legitimate, the second one dangerous for the movement. If violence leads to civil war, then, as Sohrab said, Iran might be in danger of disintegration.


In my view, the jury is still out on whether Mousavi can be a true leader of the movement, and possibly the future leader of the nation. I do think that his role and effect in the 1980s events has been exaggerated. But, at the same time, Mousavi of December 2009 is vastly different from Mousavi of April 2009. He has grown with the movement.

Your second point regarding ethnic minorities is well taken. That is why I am opposed to violence.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 29, 2009 11:15 AM

Coup Number 1:
Khamenei and his stooges in Iranian TV cook up an incident about burning Khomeini's picture. They wanted to force Mousavi and other reformers to take a position (given their past) and break away from People's Movement. Well, nothing happened! Regime brought out every body it could and it was a fiasco. Not even Qom's Mullahs unitedly went behind the regime.

Coup Number 2:
After the Ashura demonstartion, People have clearly stated their position that their problem is with the whole Clerical System, not just what happened in this last election. Mousavi and his fellow reformers are again in a bind. What should they do? They have to take a position. Should they go with Khamenei or stay with the people. After all, They only asked for rain, but what is happening looks more like a flood (to quote Bazargan from 31 years ago). At least Shah listened to US and Britain. These Mullahs don't listen to anybody.

I think Mousavi will remain with the people because he knows people are his only choice. It is the only way he can redeem himself from his previous sins (He was Prime Minister when political prisoners were massacred!)

This movement is radicalizing. It is not moving toward blind violence. It is not irrational thinking. People have the large masses behind them. Regime's killing cannot deal with their large numbers when they are not afraid.

Dr. Sahimi this regime cannot be reformed. It doean't have the capacity for reform. It will dis-integrate. This movement is clearly maturing. No more reformers! We have heard their lies for too long!

shahin / December 29, 2009 12:46 PM

What's with all these people in comments section salivating over Iranians getting violent? You guys watch too much actions movies. This is real life!

Anthony / December 29, 2009 1:52 PM

I must admit, Dr. Sahimi, you were right about the significance of Ashura to this movement, and your implied prediction of violence.

But I sense that even you were surprised by the level of violence and destructiveness exhibited by the protesters.

Myself, I'm amazed Iran's military wasn't activated, or that martial law or even partial martial law wasn't declared. If this had happened in the West, these two conditions would have prevailed. And US law enforcement would have been provided with instructions on the use of lethal force (unlike Iran's law enforcement, they all carry guns), to restore order and protect officer's lives in life threatening situations.

I abhor civil disorder. And I applaud your appeal to non-violence. But Muhammad, most of these protesters are half our age and younger, and they've become radicalized. I agree, this is to their disadvantage.

Pirouz / December 29, 2009 4:05 PM

@Pirouz: I'm sorry, with more than 80 confirmed deaths, you talk of protesters "violence"?
By the way, how do plainclothes murderers qualify as "officers"? Officers are supposed to defend personal safety, not to break it.

And why you keep blabbing about USA? I don't mind what the USA does, my ambitions go further than western actual standards, but you're concerned in not staying too behind.
That's to say that after all is YOU who's implying USA as a reference point for human achievements.

And why people keep talking about "clerical rule", when the revolutionary guard owns everything in Iran, even Khamenei's ass? It's a military dictatorship, not a clerical one anymore.

Italian / December 29, 2009 7:19 PM

The Green movement


The movement of the Green?

You think, you decide.


Arezoo / December 30, 2009 3:43 AM

Mr. Sahimi, I agree with your assessment.

In addition I predict that history will point to Ayatollah Montazeri's death as the most important event since the Presidential election.

For the first time since the initial couple days after the election, his death triggered Iranians outside of Tehran (and across several major universities) to come out in large numbers and challenge the regime.

This challenge has again put the regime back on its heels forcing the "Hidden Imam Cult" of coup leaders to have to resort to the only things that they know best: violence and lies.

It is now critical that the pro-green clerics leverage these events and place heavy focus on shifting the position of the remaining sincere regime loyalists. We need this segment to at worst sit on the sidelines and wait to express their views in a national referendum.

The worst thing that those of us who are disgusted with this regime can do is to:

1) Attack other anti-regime groups and individuals for their past.

2) Reinforce the worst fears of the regime loyalists by attacking their most fundamental Islamic beliefs.

Hamid / December 30, 2009 8:11 AM

What if that violence was the result of a deliberate provocation from the regime, seeking a pretext to crush the opposition once and for all? ?
Many peaceful protesters were savagely attacked by Bassiji and police:
Is there a better way to provoke rage and and anger ?

Gloumdalclitch / December 30, 2009 8:11 AM

I agree with "Italian" - this regime for all of its 30 years of existence has relied on the use of force and violence to achieve its aims. Iran is now a military state.

Re Pirouz - his level of intellect seems to peak at making (often ludicrous) comparisons between this criminal regime and the US.

Agha Irani / December 30, 2009 8:13 AM

Those days are over. We can question, we can agree or disagree based on logic. This is called FREEDOM of thought.People in Iran have spoken.Barbaric Republic NO MORE.

Andisheh / December 30, 2009 6:07 PM

Dr.Sahimis article has brought to the forefront of political disscussion one of te most fundemantal question facing every and all movements. How to safe guard it's existance.The question of violence and self defence has faced all movements in history .So it is
time to carry out an all inclusive discussion of the questions facing our nation and its people. The present "Green movement" is not immune from this discussion.SINCE ALL OF US OUTSIDE our country are not direct participants in these historical battles taking place in Iran our greatest responsiblity is to add clarity to this discussion in the hope that this will show the path forward. The path forward for our nation and its people.Clarity of word and purpose.That is what is the requirement of the moment. Old presciptions only confuse all participants.Dr. Sahimi's contributions and all other contributors of the Tehran Journal can only help in this regard .As participants in these historical moment for our nation and its people we should all continue to participate in this intellectual endeaver .We should also thank the editors of the Tehran Journal for creating and making possible such a format.Clarity of word and purpose is the minimium requirement!

Ben Khezri / December 31, 2009 6:56 AM


Amir Hadian / January 1, 2010 2:34 PM

I think the question of self-defense against a savage regime needs to be carefully assessed. Should the protesters be scarified like lambs in the face of barbaric attacks by the government? Could the Jewish people have save themselves from extermination if they had weapons to defend themselves?

From this far I really don't know the answer. But I know Iran does not have a Gundi to be led peacefully through this crisis. Ayatollah Montazi was a decent human being but not a charismatic leader. He was not a match for Gundi's depth, leadership and passion for his country.

In my opinion, Islam is not a benign religion and cannot produce spiritual leaders who could transform their country for the better. Could there be a leader worse than Ayatollah Khomeini? He was not that different from Hitler. His unique interpretation of Quran and codes of moral superiority brought misery and war to Iran.

Islam is a cult, inspired by flawed teachings. Khamenei acts like Hassan Sabah. He can order his followers/the assassins to jump off the cliff or kill innocent protesters without any debate.

The question is what would you do in the face of savage attacks from cult members (bassij) who blindly follow a man cursed with megalomania and psychological instability? These people will fight to keep their monopoly on Iran’s resources even if that means Iran will no longer exist in its current form. Members of a cult are only loyal to their leader not their country. Iran means nothing to them.

pirooz / January 1, 2010 11:22 PM

Regarding your last two paragraphs:
Dr. Sahimi, although I believe progressive greens represent the best alternative at this juncture, I have much concern about the extremist right wing elements among the greens and more specifically those who are outside Iran. For example I have recently seen that some of them in sites such as iranian.com with complete impunity are engaged in censoring and blocking those who question characters such as Sazegara, Makhmalbaf ... and their extremist supporters.
Dr. Sahimi, I doubt that these right wing crowd is any better than the right wing Ahmadinejad people.

Kharmagass / January 2, 2010 3:57 AM


I agree with you. But, those whom you refer to are not true supporters of the Green Movement. They are simply riding the waves created after the election, the very same election that they opposed voting in. As for Sazegara and others, they are simply opportunists. Read my new piece.


Do you know what a cult is, or do you use it carelessly?

Muhammad Sahimi / January 2, 2010 8:19 AM

Mr. Sahimi. I know what a cult is. I judge any religion by how it is practiced and not its finest examples, which only the scholars of religion can recall and defend. I believe your objection to my use of the word “cult,” stems from these scholarly sources. As if any religion, including Islam should be immune to criticism.

Today's Muslims are not allowed to have any public debate about Islam and its contemporary practice even in free countries. Consider this: the green movement debate, in its essence, is about democracy/versus dictatorship. But what we hear from Iranian government and the Shia sources of emulations elsewhere is a debate about good people of Islam versus the morally corrupt, the deceived, the misguided, and the doubtful. The very fact that this people can create titles and positions for themselves using a religious system testifies that a brainwashing process, similar to that of a cult, is an accepted practice in Islam. Can you explain the unconditional love for the Leader of Iran and his supporters’ savage crimes that is committed by his direct orders in the name of Islam? Is not this a cult practice? Please don't try to tell me this is not Islam but something else. I have heard that before. The time has come to challenge Islam's practice, such as one that is carried in Iran, by Muslims like myself and yourself, instead of getting caught in details.

Also, Mr Makhbalbaf who you implied to be an opportunist, like Sazegara, is a treasure to our culture. This is where you are using that word carelessly.

Pirooz / January 3, 2010 9:54 PM