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Khamenei lashes out at Opposition

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

16 Dec 2009 06:209 Comments
14771_251.jpgIn an angry speech to young conservative clerics on Sunday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the opposition, accusing them of being behind tearing and burning posters of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and thereby insulting him and questioning the validity of the 1979 Revolution. The opposition had already rejected the accusation, and had implied that it was probably the hardliners themselves who staged the incident in order to provoke people's emotions.

In his speech, however, Ayatollah Khamenei sided squarely with the hardliners by saying:

"Some people broke the law, created chaos, encouraged the people -- to the extent that they could -- to oppose the Nezaam [the political system]. The fact that they did not succeed and what they wanted [annulment of the election results] did not happen is beside the point; they did what they could to incite the enemies of the Revolution and Islam [to speak against the Islamic Republic]. What they did encouraged the enemies of the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini], those who have hatred of the Imam in their heart, to go to the universities and insult his picture. They [the opposition] gave new hope to the enemy, who had been hopeless and disappointed, to revitalize itself, to be so encouraged as to appear in front of a huge crowd of students, who surely love the Imam and the Revolution, and love serving their nation and the Islamic Republic, to commit such an incredible insult [to Ayatollah Khomeini]. Those who broke the law, looked for [an opportunity to create] chaos, [should understand that] giving encouragement to the people to riot in public; this is the result of what they have done. Then, in order to hide the unlawful act that has taken place, they spin a rationale for what has happened, and present arguments for it. This is one of the worst diseases that afflict the people. We are all in danger [of the consequences]; we must be careful. Then [if we are not careful], in order to defend ourselves against our conscience, people's questions, and the eyes of those who question us [about what we have done], we create a philosophy and an argument for it."

Ayatollah Khamenei was referring to the arguments of the opposition leaders, particularly Mir Hossein Mousavi, that, even if some unlawful acts have occurred, they are the result of what the hardliners did to the election and the violent crackdown in its aftermath. He then continued:

"They create sedition, chant in support of the law, but break the law. They chant in support of the Imam, but create an environment among their supporters that such a great sin [insulting Ayatollah Khomeini] can happen. The Imam is insulted; his poster is insulted. This is not a small event; not a minor sin. The enemies [of the Islamic Republic] are very happy [that the insult occurred], and not just happy, but also analyze what has happened and based on the analysis they make their decision, and based on the decision they act [to confront the Islamic Republic]; they encouraged [the people to commit acts] against [our] national interest, against the nation of Iran."

Ayatollah Khamenei was presumably referring to Persian satellite television channels, largely run by Monarchists from the United States and broadcast into Iran, that have extensively re-broadcast the episode and have interpreted it as the sign of the forthcoming demise of the Islamic Republic. He then seemingly began speaking to Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and former president Mohammad Khatami in a long tirade:

"As soon as a person who truly works for the Revolution, Imam, and Islam, realizes that his words and actions have created a direction [for the people] against this principle [working for the Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Islam], he immediately stops. Why do they [the leaders of the Green Movement] not do it? When they heard that from the most fundamental slogan of the Islamic Republic - independence, freedom, and Islamic Republic - the Islam part has been deleted [in the demonstrations], they [the opposition leaders] must come to their senses. They must understand that they have taken the wrong path, they have erred. They must announce that they do not support what has happened. When they see that on Quds [Jerusalem] Day that is designated for the defense of Palestine against the Zionist regime [Israel], some [protesters] chanted in support of the Zionist regime and against Palestine, they should immediately separate their ways and declare that 'no, we are not with this movement.' When they see that world leaders of oppression and repression support them - the leaders of the U.S., France, Britain and all those that are symbols of injustice - both in the present era and over the past 120 years, are supporting them, they [the opposition leaders] should understand that there is something wrong with what they are doing. When they see that all the corrupt people and the monarchists support them, the Tudeheis [members of the old communist Tudeh Party] support them, those singers and musicians that have fled the country support them, they should understand what is going out; their eyes must open, and understand that there is something wrong with what they do ... As soon as you see that they are insulting the Imam's picture, condemn it, instead of denying that it has been done [by your supporters]."

Ayatollah Khamenei did not mention that the leaders of the Green Movement in fact did condemn the incident, while attributing it to its rightful source - the hardliners. The Supreme Leader then seemingly signaled a final parting of ways with the leaders of the Green Movement:

"You [the leaders of the Green Movement] are my former brothers. Some of them [the leaders] used to be insulted when they supported the Imam. But, now, those who support them [the leaders] and chant their names, carry their posters, and mention their names with so much respect and appreciation, [also] chant exactly against the Imam, the Revolution, and Islam. They break their fasts publicly on the Jerusalem Day [the Jerusalem Day is on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan]; you see these, separate your ways from them. The elections are over. There were general elections, and they were fine [without fraud]. They could not prove anything [fraudulent] about the election. They constantly made claims. An opportunity was given [to them to prove the fraud]. We said prove it. They could not; they did not come forward. Everything [related to election] is over. Abiding by the laws means that, even if you do not recognize the elected president, you should accept him, if you respect the law."

Ayatollah Khamenei did not, of course, mention that he asked the reformist candidates to pursue their complaints about the election after he had declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner, and that he did not wait for the customary three-day period after the election, before making the declaration and, therefore, the question of pursuing the matter was moot. He also did not mention that Mousavi had submitted a long list of all the violations of the law before, during, and after the election, but the Guardian Council (the body that certifies election results) did not pay any attention to it. He did not mention that, after inspecting the votes cast in 140 districts, the Guardian Council itself said that up to three million votes in those districts may have been fraudulent and, therefore, given that Iran has 369 voting districts, the possibility of vast fraud was very distinct.

After attacking the leaders of the Green Movement so strongly, making accusations against them, and declaring once again that the election was clean, Ayatollah Khamenei asked the young clerics and other pro-government supporters to remain calm:

"Of course, my request from people regarding this issue is as follows: our people became upset when the Imam was insulted; they became angry, and they have a right to be so. They declared that they had nothing to do with it, which was good. But, keep your calm. I asked our university students the same; keep your calm. If necessary, those that are responsible [to investigate the incident] and the officials will take the necessary action. Of course, identify them [those who did the insulting], identify those that are the roots of this decadence, and inform others [of their identity]."

But, the Ayatollah also threatened the opposition when, at the end of his speech and after calling his political system "godly," added, "you will see that those who are opposed to the truth will be destroyed right in front of your eyes."

But, more than anything else, what has happened demonstrates a few facts:

In the past, whenever an alleged insult to an important figure, Islam, or the political system happened, there were large demonstrations organized by the hardliners against it. For example, in April 2000 after the reformists had swept the elections for the 6th Majles [parliament], at a conference was held in Berlin, Germany on the future of reform in Iran, some insults were made against the political system (it turned out later that the hardliners themselves had a hand in it). At that time too, the state broadcaster aired the incident, just as it recently broadcast the Khomeini photo incident. There were demonstrations against the alleged insults at the conference, and many prominent reformists, including journalist Akbar Gangi and Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari, an important nationalist-religious figure, were jailed. Nothing of that sort has happened - at least not yet. In other words, the hardliners can no longer count on that kind of popular support.

Second, Mousavi and Karroubi have asked for permits to organize a demonstration for their supporters, in order to protest the alleged insult, but the permit has been denied. The hardliners are simply afraid of giving any opportunity to the opposition to demonstrate its strength.

Third, the tone of the speech by Khamenei sounds like even he is not sure about what he has done over the past six months since the June elections, but he sees no alternative but continuing the course he has decided upon.

Fourth, the quick responses by Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami, and other reformist leaders to the alleged insults illustrated that they will not allow the hardliners to create pretexts to crack down violently on the supporters of the Green Movement. That, above all, is a testament to the maturity of the leadership.

Placard: 'Oh noble Leader, we're ready, we're ready.' Photos/Leader.ir

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau

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You say there have been no demonstrations against the Khomeini photo tearing incident, yet right here at Tehran Bureau there was a news item stating that the Tabriz Bazaar was closed as a protest to this very incident.

Also, the day after this incident was covered on TV, students themselves at Tehran University rushed to show themselves carrying placards of Imam Khomeini, in a show of defensiveness over the issue.

This represents a "maturity" of the Green movement leadership?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 3 million vote figure you cite regarding the June election refers to a total potential involving seemingly high voting percentages (some above 100%). However these were explained and the figure you cite reflects the maximum effect of such were it not explained. Dr. Sahimi, why are you deliberately misrepresenting this without any related counter-claim?

Pirouz / December 16, 2009 6:31 PM

Pirouz - Are you the one that is half Yan? O.K. let the other half or Iranian half talk to you. In Iran unlike U.S. in most cases, people don't particulary do what they want to do.A group of government thugs go to Bazaar and tell the shopkeepers to close it down or the opposite, to keep it open depending on the situation.If you don't then you are a target. In U.S. the authorities get a warrent from a judge for further investigation. In Iran, the judge (a mullahs) signs a handfull of warrents with no name and hands it over to their thugs.The thugs fill in the blank afetr they decide to arrest you. Are you with me so far? We do not have a Green movement in Iran. We have a movemen of the Green.There is a difference. Are you in still in tune? As for Sahimi? He is a Mousavi supporter.These people live with an illusion of reform within the Barbaric Republic.This is like taking your garbage and turning it into gold. Just like an Al-chemist. Grabage to gold.Do you believe that? No. You said, "Sahimi, why are you deliberately misrepresenting this without any related counter-claim?" You are thinking.But, this is not his first time nor will it be his last time. His job is to support his bo$$.

Sohrab / December 16, 2009 10:23 PM


The bottom line is , Islamic Republic has to go. The time has come and you can not avoid it. It is part of the process(same as every where around the world).
You have a choice to leave peacefully(seems to be a little bit late for that) or get kick out !
These are new slogans:
Khameni Yazideh ,be akharesh resideh
Khameni haya kon, mamlekat ro raha kon
na gazeh na lobnan, janam fadayeh Iran

nima / December 16, 2009 10:32 PM


RE "Khameni Yazideh ,be akharesh resideh"

very cool. better than the other version "Khamanei Yazideh...digeh karesh tamoomeh"

Ahvaz / December 17, 2009 2:41 AM


Do you support either side? or are you equally critical of everyone? I'm asking because i want to know under what context i should be reading your comments. If you listen to some of the things Mousavi says, they're pretty interesting and smart. His intentions are irrelevant. His job is to be a muse to the people and to provide inspiration and courage.

DC / December 17, 2009 9:30 AM

Pirouz is a basiji

Agha Irani / December 17, 2009 7:27 PM

DC, As far as I am concerned, If it looks like the Islamic Republic, talks like the Islamic republic or smells like the Islamic republic it is a target in my book. No emotions and nothing personal.That explains my feelings in a nut shell.You are absolutely right when you say,"...things Mousavi says, they're pretty interesting and smart.", but so did Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Castro and the list goes on and on.Mousavi is one of the founders of the Islamic Republic and he is very much a part of the Islamic Republic who has no intention to do away with the Islamic Republic.It is not smart to say,"His intentions are irrelevant." Of course they are relevant. The future of our Iran is at stake.It is smart to say he is irrelevant because no man is above our country, if you understand where I am coming from.As long as the Green movement is conencted to Mousavi and concequently connected to the Islamic Republic, it is farce by design and non-productive. We have no choice but to move on to the next phase. It will be ugly and bloody but we must save our country from the hands of the Barbaric Republic.Persia must remain Persian. It is our history, family, culture, dignity, future and .... you name it.Our women, the mothers of Persia. the mothers of our future race must be saved from these barbarians. Be your own man and don't let anyone take you for a ride. You only have one life to live.Make the most of it.Read between the lines. You will know what I am talking about.

Sohrab / December 18, 2009 12:17 AM

Iranian reformists should be careful that they do not end up exchanging one dictatorship for another of a nationalistic/racial one as espoused in sohrab's comments.

I do pray and hope that the sensible and moderate majority of Iranians will hold sway and not throw out the baby with the bath water as some of the commentators here would like. The Islamic Republic has a strong standing and respect amongst most of the Third World and has managed to keep decision making independent of interference from major powers as well as increasing literacy levels amongst its population particularly women. There are many reasons for its inadequacies and they are not all home grown. It is surrounded by instability all around it and of course the presence of US forces which is the only country that has actually used a nuclear bomb!

rezvan / December 19, 2009 7:22 PM

rezvan I don't even want to hear from people like you.When are you Islamic Republic or better yet Barbaric republic supporters, going to realize Iranian people hate you.Who are you to talk to us about dictatorship or human rights?You people are not human.Even animals don't treat their children the way you treat ours.You have no place in the future of Iran and the sooner you understand it the better.When I look at your kind I get sick in the stomach.

Sholeh / December 22, 2009 1:56 AM