tehranbureau An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora

What Has the Green Movement Achieved?

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

16 Aug 2010 23:57108 Comments
22Bahman6.jpg Numerous successes widen hardline fissures, keep regime on defensive.

[ analysis ] The Green Movement is over one year old. The large street demonstrations and gatherings, both before and after the rigged presidential election of June 2009, that gave birth to the movement, have largely ended. The world has shifted its attention back to Iran's nuclear program and away from the struggle by a large majority of the Iranian people for a better society. Disappointment and even hopelessness permeate a small, but significant, segment of Iranian society, both at home and in the diaspora. We must ask, Is the Green Movement still alive or is it dead? If it is still alive, what has it achieved, given the heavy price that Iranians have paid over the last 15 months?

Posing these questions to members of various groups yields different answers. It is necessary to first understand how Iranians -- at least those actively participating in movement-related activities or who follow developments closely -- view the present state of affairs.

Three Groups of Iranians

In my opinion, the active Iranians may be divided into three groups:

One group consists of those who believe that the movement has had many achievements, is gradually broadening its appeal, and has succeeded in cornering the ruling establishment. This group is of the view that the quest for a democratic Iran is not a sprint but a marathon. It is opposed to any foreign intervention in the struggle between the hardliners and the rest of Iran. It is opposed to almost any type of sanctions and, most importantly, to any military attack on the country.

In the second group are those who take a dimmer view of the situation. This group believes that, while the movement has had some achievements and is still a viable force, it is still too weak and needs the assistance of the outside world. This group thus supports the imposition of certain types of sanctions to weaken the ruling establishment and its hardline supporters.

In the third group are those who believe that the movement is dead. This group never truly believed in the movement, although it seemingly supported it for a while when it appeared to be on the verge of overthrowing the Islamic Republic. Most Iranians in this group actually believe in the violent overthrow of the current government which cannot be accomplished without the intervention of foreign military forces. In short, most people in this group are those who have been advocating regime change, in a manner similar to that which deposed Saddam Hussein. People in this group totally reject the leadership of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, Mohammad Khatami, and Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi's wife. This group largely consists of supporters of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization, a significant segment of the monarchists, the so-called revolutionary leftists (orthodox Communists), and the neoconservative bloc that is supported by U.S. neoconservatives. They have no significant social base within Iran and, therefore, will not be discussed any further in this article.

The Background of the Green Movement

So, what are the achievements of the Green Movement? To begin with, we must first recognize that the movement was not born in a historical vacuum. Just as the 1979 Revolution had its roots in the Constitutional movement of 1905-11, nationalization of the oil industry by Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh in the early 1950s, the CIA-MI6 coup of 1953 that overthrew the Mosaddegh government, and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's absolute dictatorial rule of the 1960s and 1970s, the Green Movement represents the continuation of a century-old struggle for democracy. The 1979 Revolution raised hopes for a democratic Iran, but for a wide variety of reasons, it failed to achieve its goals, was hijacked by reactionary forces, and gradually brought the nation to its current state.

At the same time, the long Iran-Iraq War, the political repression of the 1980s, and the revision of the Constitution in 1989 that gave the Supreme Leader nearly absolute power in many respects also gave birth to the reform movement. While many Iranians shared similar ideas and contributed to the movement, it was spearheaded by a group of Islamic leftists who were ardent supporters of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini -- indeed, they referred to themselves as "followers of the Imam's line."

The reform movement was strong enough to twice elect Mohammad Khatami president. His first election, in 1997, provided the ruling establishment an opportunity to begin narrowing the gap that had widened between it and the people. In fact, right after Khatami's landslide victory, a group of prominent Reformists met with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and pleaded with him to lead the reform movement and gradually change the structure of power in Iran. The ayatollah rejected the proposal, claiming that the Islamic Republic did not need any reform.

Instead of viewing Khatami's election as an opportunity, Khamenei and his hardline supporters, as well as Iran's traditional right wing represented by the Islamic Coalition Party and its allies, saw the reform movement as a threat to their power and interests. They began cracking down hard on the Reformists. With the Reformist sweep of the first nationwide city council elections in the fall of 1998 came the revival of the infamous Chain Murders, the continuation of an assassination campaign that began as far back as 1988. That was followed by draconian moves to restrict the press, which had been enjoying a relatively free period. This in turn led to the uprising by university students in July 1999, which was violently suppressed. The Reformists again triumphed in the elections for the 6th Majles (parliament) in February 2000. The press consequently felt emboldened to publish many revelations about the endemic culture of corruption and crimes in the Islamic Republic. As prominent Reformist strategist Dr. Saeed Hajjarian put it, the press "partially lifted the curtain for the people to see." In response, Khamenei and his supporters cracked down again on the press in April 2000. After more than a decade, the press has yet to recover. In fact, freedom of the press has essentially lost its meaning in Iran.

After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005, the reactionary forces took over the organs of government. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the organizations under its command, such as the Basij militia, now wanted their share of the riches. They had acted as foot soldiers for the conservatives during former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's second term (1993-97). They had created, as Khatami put it, a major crisis for his own administration every nine days. Ahmadinejad did not disappoint them. One of his first acts as president was to give the Basij $400 million. It never became clear how the money was spent, or even who was in charge of spending it. Ever since, it has been the official policy of his administration to shower the Guards and other organs of the hardliners with rich contracts worth billions of dollars, without any formal bidding or competition.

The trend has accelerated since last year. In addition to new oil and gas contracts worth $21 billion, Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naghdi recently reported that the militia's budget has been increased sevenfold. The ruling establishment is clearly worried and wants to be ready to confront any future popular protests. This only alienates the nation further. At the same time, we have seen in other countries that quasi-fascist organizations, as powerful as they may seem, easily collapse under huge social pressure.

But the privileges that the hardliners have enjoyed have also generated corruption on a vast scale, widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Khomeini said famously that Iranians did not revolt against the Shah because of the economy and that "the economy belongs to the donkeys," a symbol of stupidity in Iran. Although it is estimated that the middle class now makes up about 40 percent of the population, the fact is that, even by the government's own statistics, one out of every six Iranians lives below the absolute poverty line. About 35 percent of the population belongs to the lower middle class that constantly struggles to make ends meet. A very large segment of the population is thus extremely unhappy about its economic plight, among its other concerns. At the same time, there is a new upper class in Iran that has made its wealth largely through its links with the ruling establishment, rather than hard work and competition.

Even if we give credence to Khomeini's claim that Iranians did not revolt against the Shah because of the economy, Iranians certainly did revolt for a democratic government, supremacy of the rule of law, equality of all citizens, and a moral social order. Those hopes were not realized. The ruling establishment's insistence on imposing what it claims to be Islamic laws and values -- by force, when necessary -- and the remarkable extent of corruption among the establishment and its supporters, has further alienated much of the population. At the same time, the country's Baha'is have been under tremendous pressure, while the Sunnis have not achieved even a small fraction of their demands.

In 1992, a new phrase entered Iran's political parlance: the philosophy of khodi haa va gheyr-e khodi haa (roughly, "us and them"), which aimed to divide the population into two groups -- those who blindly follow the ruling establishment (the khodis) and those who do not (gheyr-e khodis). It is a mistake to think that this division did not exist before the 1979 Revolution. Particularly from the mid-1960s to the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty, the Shah and his supporters similarly divided the people into khodis and gheyr-e khodis, though they did not use that terminology. In that period, the division was between those who had bought into whatever was Western and Western-leaning (the khodis of that time) and the Iranian-Islamic traditionalists. In fact, the Shah's attempts to "Westernize" Iran played an important role in the 1979 Revolution.

In any event, dividing the people into "us" and "them" has further deepened the gap between the ruling establishment and most of the population. While back in 1992, the ruling establishment could still legitimately claim that the "ship" of the khodis was very large and included much -- if not an outright majority -- of the population, it has been shrinking ever since. As Karroubi put it recently, "If the nezaam [political system] is limited to people like Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Jannati, and similar people, then it is a boat that cannot accommodate 75 million people and is not stable."

A few initiatives that the ruling establishment took eventually backfired, and were turned into vehicles for demanding change. For example, before the 1979 Revolution, Iran had about 15 institutions of higher education. After the war with Iraq ended in 1988, the Islamic Republic rapidly expanded the number of such institutions to about 75. Practically all of these are now hotbeds of anti-government sentiment.

As another example, consider the following. After the cultural revolution of 1980, the establishment recognized that it could never control the universities. But it also recognized that it needed educated and trained cadres to serve its interests, run the bureaucracy, and advance its agenda. Thus, the Islamic Azad University was founded in 1982 by Khamenei, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and others. After the war with Iraq ended, the university expanded on a grand scale, penetrating some of the most remote areas of the country. Most often than not, the students were not local. They were predominantly children of the middle and upper classes from large cities who had not been able to get into one of the public universities, but were able to pay Islamic Azad's high tuition and living expenses. The students brought the demands of the urban population to smaller towns around the country. Hence, gradually, the university's branches became symbols of modernity in many of Iran's less developed regions. These students were not necessarily loyal to the ruling establishment. In fact, studies indicated that they played a key role in Khatami's victories in the 1997 and 2001 elections.

An example of this phenomenon is telling. In 2001, Dr. Abdollah Jasbi, the university's chancellor, ran against Khatami. He held a campaign rally at the school's branch in Semnan, a town 220 kilometers northeast of Tehran. The large number of students who showed up to listen to Dr. Jasbi's speech were served a traditional dish, chelo kabob (ground beef kabob and rice). After Dr. Jasbi left the campus, the students issued a statement: "With heartfelt thanks for the delicious chelo kabob, we the students of the Semnan branch of Islamic Azad University declare our support for Khatami!"

The role of the Islamic Azad University in spreading the message of the Reformists is a central reason why the hardliners have been trying to wrestle control of the school from Rafsanjani and his group. The hardliners have also founded Payaam-e Nour (message of light) University to serve their interests.

Of course, the advent of the Internet and increased access to other means of mass communications also played a significant role in awakening the people. The younger generation, born shortly before or since the 1979 Revolution, that knows only the Islamic Republic and its glaring shortcomings has been particularly affected.

Achievements of the Green Movement

This is the environment in which the Green Movement was born. Let us now consider its achievements.

Demonstrating the ineffectiveness of Velaayat-e Faghih

The backbone of Iran's political system is the doctrine of Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist), represented by the Supreme Leader. The 1989 revisions of the Constitution gave nearly absolute power to the Leader on many fronts, and Ayatollah Khamenei has not hesitated to use the power in his attempt to crush the opposition. But his attempts have come at a heavy price: The republican aspect of the political system has essentially become irrelevant, and the vast majority of the people do not recognize the legitimacy of the Faghih. The erosion in the doctrine's legitimacy and its glaring ineffectiveness has forced the hardliners to claim that it is, in fact, not the people that represent the source of legitimacy for Velaayat-e Faghih. Rather it is God who appoints the Supreme Leader and the role of the people -- or their representatives in the Assembly of Experts, the constitutional body that names the Supreme Leader -- is to discover the appointee. It is now clear, more than ever, that a large, complex, and dynamic nation such as Iran cannot be run by the system of Velaayat-e Faghih,a concept that is not even accepted by the majority of Shia clerics. In fact, only the hardliners' use of force has allowed Velaayat-e Faghih to survived as long as it has.

The fall of Ayatollah Khamenei

Long before last year's election, it was clear to the nation that Ahmadinejad was Khamenei's preferred candidate. In a meeting with Ahmadinejad's cabinet a year before the election, the ayatollah told the ministers, "Do not work as if you will be in charge for only one more year, but plan for five more years." The ayatollah had also strongly supported Ahmadinejad during his first term, even when his incompetence had become too obvious to ignore.

When on June 13, 2009, the day after the rigged presidential vote, Khamenei congratulated Ahmadinejad on his "reelection," not even waiting for the Guardian Council to certify the vote's legitimacy, it became clear that he had tied his maintenance of power to Ahmadinejad. He lost any residual legitimacy six days later when, leading Tehran's Friday Prayers, he threatened the opposition and declared that if any blood was spilled, it would be the opposition's fault. Ever since, Khamenei has been the leader of just one political faction -- and a shaky one at that -- rather than the fatherly figure that the Supreme Leader is supposed to be.

These events have led some of Khamenei's most loyal supporters to desert him. Mohammad Nourizad is one good example. An artist and journalist who used to write for Kayhan, the mouthpiece of the hardliners, he has written several open letters to the ayatollah, criticizing him on all fronts. His latest letter is particularly sharp, not only for its content, but also for its tone. Nourizad refers to the ayatollah as "Sayyed Ali." That is totally unprecedented.

The net result of all of this is that Khamenei is now despised by the vast majority of Iranians. He was already held in contempt when he prevented the "smiling Sayyed" -- as people affectionately referred to Khatami -- from carrying out his reforms. But events since last year have made him the most loathed figure in Iran, even more than Ahmadinejad.

Despite their pretense otherwise, even the hardliners are keenly aware of this. Not only have they been attempting to tie the ayatollah and his "legitimacy" to a higher authority -- God Himself -- they have also been busy trying to present a "softer," "gentler" image of the ayatollah to the nation. Thus the arrangement of meetings between him and artists, poets, authors, young people, and so forth. In most cases, the true artists and intellectuals -- those who support the Green Movement -- stay away, and the effort has failed miserably. The hardliners have also tried to portray the ayatollah as someone who lives very simply, is utterly uncorrupted, and has no wealth of which to speak.

Even if the claim is true, he remains corrupt -- his thirst for absolute power seems to have no limit.

Revealing the true nature of the fundamentalists

Iranian Islamic fundamentalists refer to themselves as Principlists, simply because they know that the word "fundamentalist" has very negative connotations. During the Khatami era, they claimed to support a religious democracy. But when the Reformists swept the elections for the 6th Majles and Khatami was reelected by a margin that surpassed the one in his initial victory, it became clear that the fundamentalists would lose almost any competitive vote, let alone ones that were truly free and fair. That is why they have been using the organs of power to hold "engineered elections" -- those whose outcome is a priori fixed in their favor. The Guardian Council vets the candidates and blocks those who are popular and credible from running. Even then, the fundamentalists change the votes (as they did last year) or declare an election flawed so that they can cancel it (as has happened with many elections for seats in the Majles).

Last year's rigged election, and particularly the violent reaction by the hardliners to people's peaceful protests in its aftermath, basically burst the bubble for the fundamentalists. Even they recognize it. There is no longer any pretense to a religious democracy. Some leading fundamentalists now speak openly about the Islamic Government of Iran, rather than the Islamic Republic of Iran. All the talk about the impending return of Mahdi -- the Shiites' 12th Imam, who is supposed to emerge from hiding one day -- represents another facet of the fundamentalists' attempt to distance themselves from any pretense to meaningful elections and democracy. Who can blame them? They cannot win any meaningful election.

Gaping fissures in the ranks of the fundamentalists

Last year's election and its aftermath have also deepened the fissures in the conservative and fundamentalist ranks. There is constant infighting among them. Many Majles deputies criticize Ahmadinejad. Many of them have made revelations about members of his cabinet, such as accusing First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi of having a fake doctoral degree and of involvement in a $700 million embezzlement case. Majles Speaker Ali Larijani has accused Ahmadinejad of breaking the law and appointing those Larijani calls foroumaayegaan (roughly, "utterly unqualified") to the cabinet.

Some Majles deputies have even spoken of impeaching Ahmadinejad. This is all happening in a body in which 200 of the deputies supposedly belong to the fundamentalist camp. Ahmadinejad recently complained to Khamenei that "running the nation has encountered difficulties."

Khamenei effectively sacked Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who Ahmadinejad preferred as his first vice president. Even the reactionary Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's spiritual advisor, has attacked Mashaei.

Still, the president has appointed his close ally to numerous posts. Mashaei is Ahmadinejad's chief of staff, secretary-general of the government's cultural commission, head of the council for free economic zones, head of the council of young advisors to the president, head of the Razavi pilgrimage and culture, representative of the president in the national council of the Iranians in diaspora, head of the Institute for Globalization, and head of the government's communication council. This means nothing but fissures between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, his most important supporter.

Majles deputy Morteza Nabavi, manager of Resaalat, a leading conservative daily, and a former cabinet member, said in a recent interview, "We do not have the required stability in the ranks of the government officials. They do not all think alike, and are not united. We do not have this even among the elite Principlists. Some of our friends tell me explicitly that they have given up. But you do not see the same in the opposition. Today, only a few defend the Supreme Leader." Khamenei himself has openly talked about the khavaas-e bibasirat (roughly, "unwise, useless elite") who have failed to openly support him.

At the same time, the military faction of the fundamentalists, led by the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia, has been putting relentless pressure on the more moderate, more pragmatic conservatives, in order to coerce their support. The attempt to take over the Islamic Azad University is but one example. Ahmadinejad recently declared, "There is only one political party, and that is the Party of Velaayat," implying that all other political groups, even within the conservative/hardline camp, should be disbanded. The pressure on such parties has been so heavy that it prompted Mohammad Reza Bahonar -- a leading fundamentalist and former Majles deputy speaker, whose nephew Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi is a close confidant of Ahmadinejad's -- to declare, "A threat to the Principlists' front is a small faction within the front itself that is increasingly making more transparent its plan for eliminating the rest of the Principlists." Bahonar's own faction, the Islamic Coalition Party, which represented the backbone of the right wing during most of the Rafsanjani and Khatami eras, feels threatened and left out.

Fissures in the Revolutionary Guards

The Green Movement has also penetrated the rank and file of the Revolutionary Guards, where there has long been speculation about possible fissures. Major General Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari, the top Guard commander, has finally confirmed such speculations. He admitted in a recent news conference, "We have had some casualties in the 'soft war,'" which is how the hardliners refer to the popular struggle for democracy. He also admitted that the Green Movement has supporters among the Guards, and that the events of the past year have created "ambiguities" for some Guard commanders. He said, "We have tried to convince them that they are wrong, which is better than physical elimination."

Credible reports indicate that at least 250 Guard commanders have either been forced into retirement or expelled. Some former Guard commanders who supported Mousavi have been arrested and tortured badly. One recent example is Hamzeh Karami.

Fissures between the Guards and Ahmadinejad

Even though Ahamadinejad could have never risen to power without the active support of the Guards and Basij, there have been consistent and credible reports of tension between him and some of the top Guard commanders. In one episode in February 2010, the president and General Jafari got into a heated argument during a meeting of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

Jafari shouted at Ahmadinejad, "Have some shame. It is due to your incompetence that Iran has been in chaos for six months."

Fissures between Ayatollah Khamenei and the Guards

Even though the Guard and Basij commanders repeatedly declare their loyalty to Khamenei, I believe that their long-term plan is to eliminate the clerics from the organs of power. Having already described this in an article last year and returned to the topic in an article this June, I will not go into further detail about it here.

Fissures in the ranks of the clerics

Among the most important fruits of the Green Movement have been the deep fissures in the ranks of the clerics, including the leading ayatollahs. The most prominent moderate ayatollahs, such as Yousef Sanei, Ali Mohammad Dastgheyb, Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, and Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha have openly supported the Green Movement and harshly criticized the hardliners and Ahmadinejad. The Green Movement has damaged the credibility of Khamenei so much that the only ayatollahs openly supporting him are either those who owe their positions to the fundamentalists and hardliners that prop them up, such as Ayatollah Hossein Noori-Hamedani, or the reactionary ayatollahs who also have reputations for being corrupt, men such as former judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Secretary-General of the Guardian Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, and Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who is believed to aspire to Khamenei's position. There is not a single ayatollah with any credibility among the people who supports the fundamentalists and Khamenei. The rest of the Supreme Leader's clerical support mostly comes from young former students of Mesbah Yazdi.

The remaining ayatollahs can be divided into two groups. One group comprises those who are totally silent, indicating their displeasure and disapproval of the current regime. The other comprises those who have shown their displeasure by their actions. For example, two important conservative clerics, Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini and Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Ostadi, refused to lead the Qom Friday Prayers for several weeks. Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi Amoli, a maternal uncle of the Larijani brothers, even declared that he would never lead Friday Prayers again. Almost all of these ayatollahs refused to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his "reelection." In a Friday Prayer sermon last year, Ostadi vehemently criticized the supporters of Ahmadinejad.

This has also deepened the fissures between Khamenei and most of the important ayatollahs. He has tried to get some credible ayatollah to certify his son Mojtaba as a mojtahed (Islamic scholar), without success. He pressured some of the major ayatollahs to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his "reelection," but they refused. There are credible reports that the ayatollahs have rebuked Khamenei for supporting "the worst possible person" for the presidency -- Ahmadinejad -- and have told him that if they follow suit, they will lose their popular support and following.

Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani, the first secretary-general of the Guradian Council, recently told Khamenei, referencing his transgressions and his eternal fate, "You have lost this world, and I worry for you in the other world." When pressured by Khamenei's representatives to meet with Ahmadinejad, the grand ayatollah reportedly said, "I will never let such a ----- into my home."

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Vahid Khorasani, father-in-law of Sadegh Larijani, the judiciary chief, is also known to oppose Khamenei. When the right-wing clergy tried to promote Khamenei as a marja' taghlid (source of emulation) in the 1990s, Vahid Khorasani is known to have told him, "You be the sultan, but leave marjaeiyat to others."

Whenever Khamenei visits Qom, Vahid Khorasani and many other leading ayatollahs leave town to avoid having to meet with him.

Such frictions have also created suspicions within Khamenei's inner circle. When he recently traveled to Qom and met with Ayatollah Javadi Amoli at the home of Amoli's sister (Amoli apparently wanted to avoid meeting in Amoli's own home), Amoli's staff brought cups of teas for both men. An aide to Khamenei then switched the tea that had been given to his boss with the one given to Amoli, as if it might have been poisoned. Amoli was reportedly so angered that he abruptly ended the meeting.

Khamenei clearly recognizes the significance of all these fissures, which is why he constantly emphasizes that the nation needs unity. What he really means, though, is that the hardliners must become united.

Transformation of the Guards into a political-security organization

As pointed out above, Ahmadinejad could not have come to power without significant help from the Guards and Basij. Such intervention by military organs into political affairs violates the creed of Khomeini, who strictly banned political involvement by the military. At first, the Guards would deny that they were intervening politically at all, though it was clear to most observers that the denials rang hollow. Then, as the Guards were increasingly called upon to intervene in affairs of state, they were forced to defend their actions with the excuse that they were protecting the country and the Revolution against "internal enemies." When that was mocked, General Jafari claimed that the Guards, or Sepah-e Pasdaran, had to obey the "the present era Vali," namely, the current Supreme Leader. When that did not work either, he finally had to admit, "Even before being a military organization, the Sepah is, first and foremost, a political-security organization."

The Guards can no longer conceal their aims. By supporting a repressive regime, they have made clear that they are opposing the wishes of a large majority of the people.

In effect, the Guards now play the same role that the military plays in Pakistan. This poses two dangers for Iran: First, it puts national security at risk, because the country's elite military forces are preoccupied with internal affairs, at a time when there is the possibility of foreign military attacks on Iran. As Mousavi put it, referring to the Guards' economic interests, "When the Sepah is worried about the fluctuations in the stock market, it cannot defend the nation and its national interest, and becomes corrupt." Second, just as in the case of Pakistan, the militarization of Iran gives rise to extremist groups that may fall out of the Guards' control and create problems for the nation with adventurism abroad.

A movement neither religious nor nonreligious

Throughout Iran's modern history, there have been arguments between those who adhere to two opposing schools of thought: those who claim that the reason Iran is not as advanced as it can and should be is the central role religion plays, and those who insist on keeping religion at the center. The Shah tried hard to eliminate religion as a social force. The Islamic Republic tries to justify everything it does based on religion.

The Green Movement is neither religious, nor nonreligious. It is a social movement that encompasses all those, regardless of their religion, gender, ethnicity, and political views, that worry about Iran and its future and want their country to be run by a just and democratic system in which the rule of law is supreme and all citizens are equal. This has been emphasized by both Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Rahnavard, which has angered the hardliners, who accuse him of planning to eliminate religion from governance.

As such, the movement is unique, and its very nature constitutes a great achievement. This is the first time that Iran has had such a movement, which bodes well for its future.

A nonviolent movement

The Green Movement rejects violence because it aims to achieve national progress lawfully, not through force. It emphasizes the significance of executing the laws without exception. In fact, the movement's leaders correctly recognize that if the fate of the present struggle were to be decided by violence, the sure loser would be the Green Movement. The hardliners are armed to the teeth, and do not hesitate to use violence. Moreover, the hardliners do not even mind if the movement resorts to violence, because it would give them the perfect excuse to carry out a large-scale massacre of the movement's supporters. The nonviolent nature of the movement, despite the hardline-sponsored violence that resulted in the murder of at least 110 people and the torture of countless others in the aftermath of last year's rigged election, is another great achievement.

A noncharismatic movement

The Green Movement is not based on its leaders' charisma. In fact, Mousavi and Karroubi can hardly be considered charismatic. While Khatami can, he has taken a backseat and plays his natural role, that of a deep thinker who criticizes the ruling establishment calmly and rationally. For example, as Khamenei and his supporters refer to the Green Movement as fetneh (sedition), Khatami has responded, "The true fetneh is the amateurish lies that are being told to the nation." He recently observed, "In dictatorships, criticism is interpreted as the effort to overthrow the political system."

Instead of being based on the personal charisma of its leaders, the Green Movement is based on the social, economic, and political demands of Iran's citizens. In short, the movement wants justice and equality -- social, political, and economic -- for all Iranians. These demands will not be met unless the nation becomes a true republic, which is why the leaders of the movement insist on the republican features of the Constitution and underscore how the hardliners have rendered them meaningless.

A pragmatic movement

The Green Movement is pragmatic. It recognizes its strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the hardliners. Thus, the movement does not set lofty goals meant to be swiftly achieved. Ideals always sound wonderful on paper. But at the end of the day, one must confront the facts on the ground: The hardliners are armed to the teeth, control the nation's vast resources, have a significant -- albeit narrow -- social base, and are ready to fight to the end, simply because they have no place to go.

At the same time, it is a grave mistake to think that every citizen that is unhappy with the hardliners wants, first and foremost, political and social freedom. It is a grave mistake to believe that every morning, when the dissatisfied citizens of Iran wake up, the first thing that they all think about is respect for human rights or freedom of expression. I am not saying that they do not care about such rights, but that they may not be the top priority of every citizen who is unhappy with the hardliners. For some, for many, economic grievances are primary.

Thus, as Mousavi has emphasized, the most important thing to settle on is a set of minimum demands about which every unhappy citizen agrees, so that the movement can inspire maximum support. Mousavi himself is the embodiment of this pragmatism. He represents the mainstream of the movement. There are some who are more radical than him, and some who are more conservative. In my opinion, pragmatism is crucial to the future success of the movement.

A growing movement

Despite some claims to the contrary, the Green Movement continues to grow. The best evidence is the fact that the hardliners are still on the defensive. Illegal arrests persist. Show trials are still resulting in long jail sentences. The hardliners continue to make absurd claims in the attempt to discredit the movement's leaders, such as the recent assertion by Ayatollah Jannati that the United States, via Saudi Arabia, provided $1 billion to Khatami to spend against the ruling establishment.

Minister of Intelligence Haydar Moslehi then claimed that it was not $1 billion, but $17 billion that the United States spent in Iran. Khamenei recently warned the hardliners, "Be prepared for larger fetneh."

The movement has also grown intellectually. The best evidence for this is the dramatic evolution of Mousavi himself.

All one needs do is compare the Mousavi of the period immediately around the rigged election with the present one. Whereas he used to say that the Constitution must be executed word for word, he now says that the Constitution is not God's words and thus inalterable. Rather, after the movement's minimum set of demands has been achieved, the Constitution can be revised and its undemocratic articles eliminated. Mousavi has also emphasized the rights of all citizens, and his positions are now those of a person who truly believes in a democratic political system.

The Green Movement and Iran's nuclear program

The one issue that the movement's leaders have not addressed is Iran's nuclear program. This must be done in the near future, as the drumbeats of war get louder. The Green Movement and its leadership should make their position regarding the program clear, just as they have announced their unequivocal opposition to the imposed sanctions. I will discuss this issue in the near future.

In sum, the Green Movement has had a tremendous number of achievements. So long as the environment in which it was born and the ills that gave rise to it persist, the Green Movement will not only survive, it will thrive. The movement has had too many successes in a short time to be ignored, dismissed, or forgotten.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

SHAREtwitterfacebookSTUMBLEUPONbalatarin reddit digg del.icio.us


Thank you once more, Dr. Sahimi, for your thoughts.

Have never been able to understand why the hardliner Guards/Khamenei haven't just eliminated Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami entirely. How and why has doing that been 'too big' a move for them, considering all the resources they have?

Here's wishing all Iranis great success in their struggle for freedom and peace. Again, thank you.

Observer / August 16, 2010 11:25 PM

Professor Sahimi;

Based on what I learned from your celebrated article: The Drumbeats of War with Iran are getting Louder, some international achievements can be considered for green movement. After the rigged election and its aftermath events, the world were sure that the fissures between regime and nation is becoming a fracture. The main drum-beater of the war is breaking up of people and hardliners. Now, USA is aware that people does not support the IRGC and hardliners.

HD / August 17, 2010 12:18 AM

Dr. Sahimi,
Great article.
question. What if the IRCG manages to build the nucl bomb. How do you think that would effect the internal dynamics of IR and the democratic movement.

Ahvaz / August 17, 2010 1:24 AM

@HD i would say that the reason that the socalled leaders of the green havent been eliminated is that they are part of the system and support velayate faghih and the supreme leaders system. remember these folks are still hard core islamists and hisbollahis.

arman / August 17, 2010 3:45 AM

What about us Green voters who have accepted the election results and were appalled by the Ashura riots? According to the WPO polls, we make up more than half of the more liberal minded electorate.

What about us, Muhammad? Don't we count? Or is that just too inconvenient to fathom?

Pirouz / August 17, 2010 4:16 AM

Thank you for another great article.

The problem that stands out for me is how the Green Movement will bridge motive with action. I know it is impossible to predict the future, but I believe many readers are thirsty for some insight into how "change" will materialise. In fact, it is essential to explore this problem, otherwise the movement may blindly walk into a dead-end and inadvertently cause more chaos.

Pak / August 17, 2010 4:17 AM


Thank you. The short answer is, it would not have any effect. Any fundamental changes in Iran must be carried out by Iranians in Iran, with the help of Iranians abroad, but with no help from outside powers. Thus, nuc or not would not make any difference, unless one wants to overthrow the IRI by military force.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 17, 2010 4:42 AM


This article is about the Greens, not about ardent supporters of Ahmadinejad who pretend to be Green. I know you come back and say you voted for this or that, but you are all over internet supporting Ahmadinejad.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 17, 2010 6:43 AM

Re Pirouz,

"....ardent supporters of Ahmadinejad who pretend to be Green..."

not to mention " a half Iranian son of a Korean war vet"!!!!
what a joke this guy is.

Anonymous / August 17, 2010 8:21 AM

Undoubtedly, the green movement accelerated the transition toward a democratic government in Iran and had several successes (as you pointed some of them nicely), and I believe the green movement will obtain its goal in the end [even without the green movement, when the people are not happy and the government is not the true representative of the society, historically and statistically you can expect that the situation will change in the end, sooner or later]. However, I hope the green movement develops and moves fast enough as long as the western countries are patient. Believe or not, they will not accept Iran's controversial nuclear program and it is AZHAROL MENASHSHAMS that they will not wait forever...I think TIME is a serious factor which has to be taken into account by this movement.

Nima / August 17, 2010 8:55 AM

lol at Pirouz. Nice try dude. You're too Ahmadinejadist.

Anthony / August 17, 2010 11:27 AM

when your article starts with an inaccurate and uproven statement like this: "both before and after the rigged presidential election of June 2009", people like me won't bother to waste their time and read the rest

Jake / August 17, 2010 11:43 AM

Zahra Rahnavard said that she fights for the ideals of Khomeini. Karoubi and Mousavi called people on the iranian streets who called for a Iranian Republic extremist, and you have the gut to call those who opposed this bunch of opportunist Mojahedin and Neocons?

Truly you deserve the name Muhamad.

As Dr. Kourosh Aryamanesh said "An iranian is not a Muslim and a Muslim is not an Iranian."

Its not just the islamic regime we fight against, but also against Arabparasts and antiiranians such as those who agitate against the true fighter for Humanism and Freedom.

From now on a will see the PBS as biased and called it also that way on my Blog.

Shame on you Mahumet.

Tangsir / August 17, 2010 3:02 PM

Thank you, Mr Sahimi, for your learned analysis.
It is most interesting to see, what you leave out by recounting the history of this terrorist regime:
"The 1979 Revolution raised hopes for a democratic Iran, but for a wide variety of reasons, it failed to achieve its goals, was hijacked by reactionary forces, and gradually brought the nation to its current state."
By avoiding the expression "Islamic Revolution" you are simply denying that all the terror of the past 31 years was committed in the name of your beloved Islam.
Labeling the mass execution of prisoners in 1988 as "political oppression" is also revealing. Obviously all those MEK or other leftist groups, who supported the Islamic Revolution at its very beginning, are too irrelevant to be mentioned.
The other explanation for this purposeful denial is to be found in your introduction, were you mention MEK supporters, monarchists and neocons altogether, as it has always been the tradition of your beloved Islamic Republic!
Such a labeling is clearly aimed at western readers, having no idea about the amount of anger within the Iranian society and its explosive situation, confronted with growing oppression by "elite" Guards.
While Iran's militarization continues at an unabated pace, you are still doing as if it did not happen: "Second, just as in the case of Pakistan, the militarization of Iran gives rise to extremist groups that may fall out of the Guards' control and create problems for the nation with adventurism abroad."
These "extremist groups" or Bassijis are part of the Guards, and have already been utilized against your revered Grand Ayatollahs, the parliament, and of course against the Green Movement and its leaders.
For obvious reasons you avoid to mention that the establishment of 700 new bases for these Bassijis is on the regime's agenda, which has also sevenfolded their budget recently.
"With adventurism abroad" is another intelligent formulation to scare away possible foreign offenders, which fully coincides with the regime's threats during the past weeks.
In sum I believe that you fully agree with Iran turning into a religious paramilitary dictatorship, already taking its own citizens as hostages, and - Inshallah - the whole region as well, when it has succeeded in building its first nuclear bomb.
With people like you, profiting from all advantages of a free society, while Iranians suffer and Iran is going down the drain, we do not need foreign enemies!

Arshama / August 17, 2010 7:31 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

I do not see Mr. Mousavi as someone who is worthy of so much support. He lacks clarity and courage. He has not been leading this movement, rather constanly trying to catch up. In my humble opinion iranians want someone who did not keep silent when khomeini was executing prisoners without trial. We want someone who will demand at a minimum the seperation of mosque and state. A secular democratic society worthy of its people. The people have been demanding this since 1905.
I do thnak you for your insightful analysis.

reza / August 17, 2010 7:55 PM

Remarkable and informative. Thank you.

Abbas / August 17, 2010 8:29 PM

Dear Prof Sahimi,

I am curious how you can assert that the current Green movement is non-religious when it is being led by Mousavi, Karoubi, Khatami, etc. - who proudly profess their love and admiration for "Imam" Khomeini and the "Islamic" government (not to mention in some cases actually being clerics)? I understand that in speeches or writings they may also make reference to religious freedom and related ideas, but is that enough? If a group of bishops praising a "Catholic" system of government and paying homage to the "Glorious Pope" (not the current incarnation, as unclean as his hands may be with the horrible abuse cover up, but a far more devastatingly murderous one) called their movement "non-religious", would that suffice to make it so?

I think a lot of people struggle with this question and it causes a root mistrust of the Green leaders. I am curious how you can reconcile this on its face and without resort to relativism.

Thank you.

np / August 17, 2010 9:00 PM

Our friends in Diaspora who have such blind hatred for anything Islam need to wake up from their 31 year old dream and smell the reality. You cannot preach hatred for those in Iran who do not share your beliefs and pretend that you are any better than IR.

Arshama (who sounds quite like Niloofar) and Tangsir would put at least 25% of Iranians against the wall without trial. In fact, you sound like Ansare Hezbollah, Savak, and KKK combined.

You expect a quick victory from our brave you men and women in Iran while you do not even have the guts or heart to live in our county. All you have to show for is your worthless blogs and posts while the true men and women of this fight are on hunger strike in IR’s prisons, are tortured, or killed. The same people that you would most definitely accuse of being anti-Iranian or Arab because they respect Mousavi and Karroubi or God forbid know how to pray or consider themselves Muslim.

Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami are bridges that connect all Iranians regardless of their beliefs and backgrounds. Their emphasis has been on the republic, democracy, and women and minority rights. They are not the only leaders of the Green Movement, which encompasses most of Iran, but the most visible ones. We have so many more behind bars: Tavakoli, Davoudi, Tajzadeh, Samimi, Frahani, Beheshti and many others. They are the true fighters of democracy for Iran.

You sit in the comfort of your homes in the West, thousands of miles away, with no grasp on reality in Iran, and preach hatred and disunity. You are filled with ignorance and think of anyone who does not follow your fascist way of thinking as the enemy.

If you aim to be an ignorant agent of IR then so be it. Just make sure you look up the definition of democracy.

Ali / August 17, 2010 10:52 PM

Get your facts right
The author of this article clearly doesn't have a good understanding of the movement.

That's true that the green movement originally started under the excuse of election frauds, but it was an extension of th e"student movement" that started in the 1990's in opposition to the "now self-claimed reformer Rafsanjani and Khatami" era dictatorship and it's not about the opposition between the so-called hardliners and the so-called reformers.

The green movement is the movement of the Iranian people fighting against the 31 years of Islamic dictatorship in Iran.

The conflict between hardliners and reformers has nothing to do with people's demands. As a matter of fact, most the Iranian people are in opposition to the Islamic republic, both the reformers and hardliners. The green movement is s secular democratic movement.

Unfortunately, the media has been hijacked by Islamic republic to portray the movement as a movement belong to Mousavi and the reformers to avoid a real international solidarity with the Iranian people.

The Iranian protesters chanted "Obama, Either with Us or the regime" اوباما. یا با ونا، یا با ما which means they desperately asked for help from the international community. Also the first week after the elections we heard the slogan " Mousavi is an excuse, the whole system is the target" موسوی بهانست، کل نظام نشانست.

Cyrus / August 17, 2010 10:58 PM

Dear Dr.Sahimi;
Great, informative, and fair analogy of the Iranian political movement and Greens!
Thank you;
Ali Shakeri

Ali Shakeri / August 18, 2010 12:12 AM

I wrote a whole blog in response to this article :

Cyrus / August 18, 2010 12:31 AM


Seems like you make up the Iranian history as you please. I really should not be wasting my time answering you but you declare:

“That's true that the green movement originally started under the excuse of election frauds, but it was an extension of th e"student movement" that started in the 1990's in opposition to the "now self-claimed reformer Rafsanjani and Khatami" era dictatorship and it's not about the opposition between the so-called hardliners and the so-called reformers.

The student uprising in 1999 was in fact in support of Reformists and their agenda which was being blocked by the hardliners. In fact it started when the “Salam” newspaper, a reformist mouthpiece, was closed down. Khatami’ support of the uprising was deplorable, although when considering the unity of the conservative and IRG camp at that time and their willingness to spill blood as well as Khatami’s beliefs in non violence, it can be put in context. The reformists have been trying to speak for the Iranian people only to be blocked by the true enemies of the Iranian nation both inside and outside of Iran (Khamenei, Clinton and Bush).

The Green movement encompasses both secular and religious components. Basically everyone who cares about human rights, freedom of speech, and future prosperity of Iran. It is a major mistake for the likes of you to disregard the religious portions of the population who are disfranchised and part of the movement. We will need to all Iranians regardless of their beliefs to participate in the movement and eventually in fair elections where everyone is given a voice.

“Unfortunately, the media has been hijacked by Islamic republic to portray the movement as a movement belong to Mousavi and the reformers to avoid a real international solidarity with the Iranian people.”

In fact, Media was hijacked by the right wingers in the west and Israel to convey your exact point. That Mousavi and Karroubi are no different than Khamenei in order to write of the Green movement and keep their favorite boogey man in place. Be proud that you in fact contributed to the misjudgment of the movement by some in the west.

“Also the first week after the elections we heard the slogan " Mousavi is an excuse, the whole system is the target" موسوی بهانست، کل نظام نشانست.”

I am unable to find even one video on you tube in which people are chanting “نشانست کل نظام, بهانست موسوی”. In fact all the videos are the exact opposite with chants “Ya Hossein, Mir Hoessin”. I am sure that large portion of the movement wants to the system to completely change but they are smart enough to know that this is a step by step process and should be achieved without bloodshed. You are misplacing your personal beliefs with the reality, which is quite common among the dreamers of the Diaspora whose ignorance and fascist mentality is astonishing.

Ali / August 18, 2010 2:46 AM


This article is about the Green movement and its achievements, not about Mousavi, and others. I quote Mousavi a few places and at the very end I talk about his evolution. Other than, the article is about the Green movement.

But, let's forget about Mousavi, Karroubi and others. Then, the question is, who do you think is the leader of the movement, who can be, and why?


Thank you. I could not have said it better.


I said the movement is neither religious or non-religious, meaning it is not about religion at all, rather it is about a set of demands. And, who says such a movement cannot be led by religious people? What matters is not whether they say their prayers and fast, but what their vision and views are. Read what Ali says.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 18, 2010 2:55 AM

attention to my friends at tehranbureau - pay no heed to cyrus [@cyrusshares] http://www.photoblog.com/newworldorder/2010/08/17/

anonymous / August 18, 2010 3:01 AM

I do agree that the majority of Iranians thought Mousavi & the reformers would stand by their sides and help them to achieve freedom and democracy in a more peaceful way than a revolution. Many at the time believed that the system can be transformed from within, but after a year, the movement has learned a big lesson, that what the reformers care about the most is saving the system and the majority of Iranians believe that either the reformist-hardliner conflict is either a show or over their own personal and political interests, not the interest of the people which is real democracy, equality, justice and human rights. When the reformists consider Khomeini as their idol, claim that the IR is not "Islamic Enough", urge loyalty to IR's barbaric Sharia based constitution which is in exact opposition to human rights and democracy, that's the same as being in opposition to the people and defending the regime.

Almost anyone who wants freedom & democracy in Iran has now convinced that it's only achievable through regime change.

Cyrus / August 18, 2010 3:47 AM

Beautiful article Sahimi jan. Keep up the good work :)

Korosh Irani / August 18, 2010 4:16 AM

attention to my friends at tehranbureau - pay no heed to cyrus [@cyrusshares] http://www.photoblog.com/newworldorder/2010/08/17/

anonymous / August 18, 2010 5:50 AM


I tried to ignore you but it's too much. PLEASE stop speaking on behalf of Iranians.

Your blog is the wishful thinking of one person who wants to impose his vision on all Iranians, at best. At worst, it's outright propaganda.

B / August 18, 2010 5:51 AM

Since anyone against the Islamists is labled KKK, Savak and Hezbollah by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI's supporters,I find it fitting to include an article by Sayeh Hassan who in Canada Free Press documented her experience during the demonstrations in June of 2009. I let the readers judge for themseleves who are really telling them the truth.
I attended the “Solidarity with Iran” protest in Queens Park today, and tonight I want to write a personal account of what I encountered, since what I came face to face with at this protest was almost as disturbing as the news that has been coming out of Iran since the elections.
I arrived around 2:30pm and by that time thousands of Iranians had gathered, I could see hundreds of Lion and Sun Flags, and of course as always I had my flag with me and I was holding it up high. As I arrived one thing I noticed was green wearing Mousavi supporters, of course without flags, and some of them with the sign “Where is my Vote.” I ended up standing beside some of these people for a while and heard them make an offensive comment about the Lion and Sun Flag, which led me to hold my flag even higher. For anyone who might not be aware, when the Islamic Regime came to power the first thing they did was to change the Iranian flag, however to this day the Lion and Sun flag is widely used and accepted by anti-Islamic Regime Iranians, and is a great symbol of nationalism.
About an hour into this protest and still there were no slogans, just some speeches, nothing really about the Islamic Regime and it’s crimes, only talk about the fact that the Presidential [S]election may have been fraudulent. Many of the speakers also claimed that the only reason people were out in the streets in Iran was because they were displeased with the result of the [S]elections. Many people seem to have forgotten the fact that Ahmadinejad has only been the President for four (4) years however the Islamic Regime including Mousavi who was the Prime Minister from 1981 to 1988 have been carrying out their crimes against the Iranian people for 30 years!
As much as Mousavi supporters who are really supporting the Islamic Regime and are only asking for a different president from within this Regime, or the Western Media try to make it seem like people are unhappy about [S]election results, there are many Iranians on the streets saying “death to the Islamic Regime.”
I was a strong supporter of boycott of the [S]elections, however and unfortunately people went out and voted. What the international community needs to realize is the fact the Iranian people were given a choice between Ahmadinjad and someone that in their eyes seemed to be better than Ahmadinejad (which isn’t saying much). The people did not have the choice to have a free election and decide the kind of government that they wanted! Therefore many decided to choose between bad and worse in a desperate attempt for change. This does not mean that Iranian people support the Islamic Regime by any means!
Back to the protest, after about an hour I and a few people that were standing beside me started shouting anti Regime slogans such as “Down with the Islamic Regime” and “Mousavi is just an excuse, the entire Regime has been targeted.” This did not go well with Regime Supporters who tried their best to make us stop. We had to remind them that we were in Canada and could make use of freedom of speech and expression. While my brothers and sisters in Iran are shouting “death to the Islamic Regime” and getting shot for it, I am not going to be staying quiet in a safe and free country like Canada.
So myself and a few other amazing women gathered and went directly in the middle of the crowd and started shouting anti Islamic Slogans. I was quite amused when one of these reformist/Regime apologists came up to me and told me we shouldn’t say anything anti-Regime since we were there for peace. I would really like to know where was this peace these people were talking about when a young woman named Neda and tens of other people were murdered on the streets of Tehran yesterday?
I can’t speak for everyone, but I attend demonstrations because I don’t believe the Islamic Regime is capable or worthy of reform. I believe the only way Iran will be free is if the Islamic Regime is totally and completely removed from power. I don’t go to protests to appease Regime supporters! I go to protests to make sure the voices of my sisters and brothers in Iran are heard loud and clear.
I must note that 90% of reformist/regime apologists were young students, and who can blame them? If they say “down with the Islamic Regime,” who will pay their way, so that they can study in some of the best universities in Canada? It’s a small price to pay, having to walk over the blood of their brothers and sisters for a free education in Canada!
As freedom loving Iranians we have to stand up for our brothers and sisters in Iran, we have to make sure we are present at every event and every protest, and not to allow these bursary students who are only looking out for their own interests to con the world into thinking Iranian people only have a problem with Ahmadinejad. As many Iranians have been saying Mousavi is just an excuse, and the entire Regime is a target!
The only way for a free Iran is total removal of Islamic Regime including Mousavi who is responsible for the execution of tens of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Therefore my slogan is Down With the Islamic Regime, and long live freedom in Iran.
June 2009

Free Iran - Iranians deserve better / August 18, 2010 7:12 AM

Ali and others expressing similar sentiments,

Who the hell are you to characterize anyone who criticizes the sacred cows of reformist-minded analysts as ignorant members of the diaspora? Anytime someone pulls out the diaspora card to respond to any criticism of Mousavi and reformists, I have to wonder. Don't speak about democracy when you can't even address other people's legitimate concerns and remonstrations in a substantive, positive way.

Bozorg / August 18, 2010 7:17 AM


If and when I decide to post my opinions I will do so under my own name and with pride. Unlike those who pretend to post from Iran, I reside in the United States and I have the pleasure of life as a free human being in a democratic society where I am protected by law to express my opinion. If you and your Islamist friends do not like my views then it is just too bad.

Unlike your generation, we do not look at the moon in search of our leaders, sell out our country for free water and electricity, and follow like sheep in response to the command, "WE WILL MAKE IRAN ISLAMIC." Only to return with absolute vulgarity to claim," They stole our revolution from us."

Is my generation surprised?

Are we surprised to see the following report?


Good lord, is that Iran behind India ranked 79th out of 100 in the world? Nah, it cannot be. It must be a Zionist conspiracy. Yeah, it is. I declare, it is a Zionist conspiracy.

We do not intend to forget, dismiss or ignore the successes. We just do not want your proposed leadership. We intend to pick our leaders for the government of our choosing in a free environment and we have over 70 million candidates to choose from. YES, WE CAN.

Entrust the Islamists with the future of Iran? NUTS.

Niloofar / August 18, 2010 10:46 AM

Prof Sahimi,

Thanks for the reply. I did not say that democratic leaders can not be religious individuals - in fact most around the world are probably religious. What I was highlighting was a difference between religious individuals who make a very small amount of reference to religion when it comes to government and public matters, those who make a moderate amount of reference, and others who make a tremendous amount so as to blur the line between church and state. So my question is not whether someone like Obama (who claims to be religious and regularly prays in Church) can lead a so-called "non-religious" movement - I have no doubt about that - but rather whether people like the current Green movement leaders (who rely on and advocate a much more religious system than most other secular democratic leaders) can lead a non-religious movement. I have trouble reconciling the current leaders' statements in support of Khomeini and the IR with them wanting a truly secular form of government. Still not sure how you or others do so with such confidence.

And yes, I read Ali's post, and I agree with some parts and disagree with others. I agree that the current movement should encompass religious and non-religious people. Absolutely, because I believe in religious freedom and democracies being open to all citizens. But I also don't think it's appropriate for these current leaders to praise Khomeini or the IR -- it's like Chileans praising Pinochet, Spaniards Franco, and so on. It's wrong in light of recent history. I also disagree that the "media" was hijacked to paint Mousavi and crew as being as bad as Khamenei or Ahmadinejad, and I'm surprised you would imply you agree. To the contrary, I would say most respectable media sources painted Mousavi as a much more sympathetic figure. I have no idea about the statement about the slogans, but it's foolish to pretend that nobody thinks that way. I have heard from various people of different politics, sexes, generations, etc. who are in Iran or have recently departed stating that Mousavi etc. are just an excuse or bahaneh - this from people who absolutely support the current democratic push and are not monarchists. I am convinced a meaningful portion of the green followers believe this, and so what? What's wrong with wanting someone better than these people with unclean hands? And why can't people simultaneously hold that belief and support the success of Mousavi for short term advancement of the cause? I wholly reject Ali's and others' knee jerk cries of "monarchist" or "MKO" to anyone who feels that way -- that type of sweeping name calling is the stuff of Ahmadinejad, Fox News, and the like.

np / August 18, 2010 11:20 AM

Ali says: "Arshama (who sounds quite like Niloofar) and Tangsir would put at least 25% of Iranians against the wall without trial. In fact, you sound like Ansare Hezbollah, Savak, and KKK combined."

Muhammad Sahimi says: "Thank you. I could not have said it better."

Yes, first of all we were mojahedins and neocons, and now a combined force of savak and pkk who wants to commit mass murder, and the so called Dr Sahimi is agreeing on this.

Dear western readers, this is not a kafkaesque joke. thats what islam turns the people in: Fanactics who direct hate speechs at all those who dare to say their opinion against islam and their represantative.

I was right in the first place to say shame on you mahumet. You truly follow the path of the islamic prophet who poisoned fountains and ordered the killing of children who had laughed at him.

To read these kind of hate speech by dr sahimi is a complete waste of time.

Real iranians read Dr. Shojaedin Shafa and Dr. Kourosh Aryamanesh.

Long live Iranzamin.

Tangsir / August 18, 2010 1:46 PM

To all you who hate Islam so much...

...why do you care about Iran? Why not stay in America and live your lives in a country where Islam bashing is a little more tolerated?

Although you're intolerance for other people's views might put you in the good graces of the IRI, you are clearly misreading at least an important section of the country.

North Tehran is very Western but judging Iran through North Tehran is like juding America through Manhattan, niether city offers a complete representation of the country.

Just because the mosques are emtpy doesn't mean there aren't people who aren't fasting and praying. It's funny to see you guys champion democracy and freedom while dismissing a segment of the country.

B / August 18, 2010 7:07 PM

Dear B. you have no clue abour Iran and that his greatest heroes like Ferdowsi, Rudaki Samarghandi, Kourosh Aryâmanesh, Pirouz Nahāvandi, Nâserxosro Qobâdiyâni, Ahmad Kasravi, Reihân Biruni, Khayyâm Neyshâpouri, Pursinâ, aka. Avecina, Bâbak Xoramdin and many more fought against Islam. Once Iran will be free we will show iranians what Islam really is and how it invaded Iran and slaughtered iranians.

The western Culture and the idea of Freedom, Humanism are more iranian than you think, and thats why it is time for the Iranian Renaissance that Ferdowsi and Rudaki started. Once our people learn what Dr. Shafa and Dr. Aryamanes thougt us, not one patriotic iranian can and will remain muslim.

Tangsir / August 18, 2010 8:22 PM

Tang sir:

First of all, I suggest you use the word "tang" in its sweet connotation that the Iranians use, and make your foul mouth more "tang." You are attacking a distinguished scientist (check it for yourself) who is merely expressing his opinion. In your "super duper democracy" only those who agree with your chauvinistic views can speak out? And if they do not, they are immediately labeled and viciously attacked? Criticism is one thing, vicious, baseless attacks are completely different.

Secondly, the first thing imbecile people of your type do to indicate their "super duper patriotism" - which is in fact nothing but extreme chauvinism bordering on racism - is giving themselves "super Iranian" names that connect them directly to the Aryan race! When the Shah celebrated the 2500 years of kingdom, he also forced some historians to directly link his genes to Kourosh!

Third, in your "super duper democracy" people who believe in a religion - any religion - cannot exist? If not, how about yours? Yours is also a religion - worshiping the Aryan race in its most extreme chauvinistic form bordering on racism!

Fourth, if Muslim are Arab worshipers, then, the 1 billion Christians around the world (including those in this country where you live) are guilty of exactly the same "sin:" Jesus was from the Middle East, a Jew, and a Semite, the Arab race. So, your "super duper democracy" has already eliminated about 2.4 billion Muslims and Christians from the face of Earth!! So, move on to other religions and you will find that in your "super duper democracy" few people will be left, you and your ilk who worship the Aryan race.

Fifth, why is it that a "super duper modern, forward looking, enlightened Aryan" like you clings to outdated concepts like race purity?
Is it not because you have nothing else to cling to? Is it not because your "ideology" is so bankrupt, so, devoid of substance, that you have to cling to such absurd notion?

Open your eyes "super duper Aryan patriot." Look at Germany, the land of Aryans! Its national soccer team has black people, people of Turkish original, etc. I am sure Hitler has turned in his grave, but, hay that is the reality of today's world.

Asghar Taregheh / August 18, 2010 8:44 PM


Hitler called. He wants his propaganda back.

B / August 18, 2010 9:36 PM

Tangsir proclaims.."Once Iran will be free we will show iranians what Islam really is and how it invaded Iran and slaughtered iranians."

Right, after 1300 years of Islam in Iran people still don't know what it really is... But you and the islamaphobia brigade will march in like knights in shimmering armor to educate them and save them with this profound knowledge that Iranians have been unaware of for all this time.

GooGoo / August 18, 2010 9:53 PM

It seems that Islamic genes of fanatics are hard at work after 31 years of hibernation with closed-eye, once again forgetting that Iran belongs to 'Iranians'. Iran is neither Islamistan nor Arabistan, it is Iran, it has been iran for millenniums, the same Iran (and Arya -- which has nothing to do with Aryan, a european-invented term) that from Jamshid Pishdadi to Ferdowsi worshipped. Only Khomeini the destroyer called it not worthy and her worship same as paganism. Iran does not belong to Islam or Islamists or whoever wants to be anything but Iranian. There is always sacred islamic land (from mecca to Najaf, from Karbala to Damascus) that "belongs" to islamists, but NOT that small country called "iran".

Islam (despite its 14 centuries of treason against iran and iranians) was considered a respected "religion" alongside other religions UNTIL it showed its true nature in the past 31 years. It is already on life support in iran (see how much trouble IRI has gathering people for end-of-ramadan prayer in a city of 14 millions, or enforcing fasting, or enforcing hejab, or performing stoning - all islamic fundamentals). Fanaticism with islam is a byproduct of ignorance, statelessness, aggression against iran and iranianism, and lack of education. As we move towards more informed people, people realize that their destiny stands with Iran, not islam which has brought them nothing but misery in iran and other islamic lands. Stoning, amputation of limbs, hejab, female circumcision, legalized prostitution (sigheh) , ... are all gifts of islam to iranians and have no iranian roots otherwise. Demise of islam is not through islam bashing but by people becoming aware of its behavior in the past 14 centuries. It is not a forced destruction, but rather a self-destruction through the simple act of awareness of what it is and what it has done for us.

Nothing better than a careful study of islam in action for the past 31 years reveals that it is not a religion and not worthy of fanaticism. That is better understood by those who lived under the ISLAMIC regime for 31 years rather than those who ran away and took their fanaticism with them in the unislamic west. Even them could not tolerate islam in action to stay there in iran.

Mullas are showing nature of islam every day. Listen to Mulla Mesbah Yazdi who declared raping of prisoners permitted under islamic law. They are the ones who are saying that Emam Ali killed 70,000 (iranians in 2 years) to maintain his caliphate. They are saying that Emam Hussain and Emam Hassan took part in wars against Iranian Tabarestan. They are the ones who are saying Emam Hussain preached slavery of iranians, ownership of their females by force, selling of their olds, and killing of the rest. I am not saying that, Islamic Mullas are saying that -- see lots of YouTubes for evidence. Historians (both Iranians and Arabs) are saying that Caliph Omar slaughtered so many iranians in so many cities and so did Caliph Ali to enforce islamic rule.

Religions (Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Sunni Islam, Shiite Islam) have come and gone, but it is only IRAN which has survived in that land.

Moosavi et al. are trash. They do not belong to this day and age and they canNOT make an iota of difference even if they succeed. They are mentally not for today or future of iran. Their doing is what we see today in iran. They belong to 70s and 80s with achievements such as war and mass murders. We need fresh "iranian" flesh to cleanse iran of the enemy within once again.

It is very naive to think that Mullas will yield an iota of power and ownership of country's wealth peacefully. That will not happen. They consider themselves owners of people's lives and country's riches. Only a modern-day reza shah, nader shah, shah abbas, ... can force these wolves out of power and free iran once again.

Bobak K. / August 18, 2010 10:54 PM

There is a BIG difference between now and the past 1400 years. At the turn of iranian century (year 1300) the literacy rate was single digit, some estimating it to be as low as 1% and thus people's eyes were closed and their ears open to mulla propaganda. Now, even a pessimistic rate of literacy is 85%, and close to 95% amongst youth. They can read, they can see, and they can understand. That will bring the demise of islamic fanaticism.

Bobak K. / August 18, 2010 11:00 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi

thank you for this great article.

amir / August 18, 2010 11:48 PM


Who is exactly Iranian to you? What about Iranians that are ethnically Arab? Should we get rid of them too?

Great idea by the way, let's get rid of all ethnic minorities from our beloved motherland. I'm sure we can still find a Nazi from the third Reich hiding somewhere in Argentina to lead us to this utopia you envision.

B / August 18, 2010 11:52 PM

Free Iran,

Do you have any points of your own? You use article from demonstration in Canada! Your ignorance of your non relativity is astonishing. You do know that this movement is in Iran? The reason the Greens wanted you to stop yelling profanities was so that the regime would not use your acts as an excuse to torture, kill and jail our young men and women in Iran.


Tell me what are their legitimate concerns? Let me take a few guesses; that in future, there might possibly be a government that includes people with religion? Or that that it might include people who were part of the government in the past 30 years? People who fought for Iran in the War?

Please do tell me these “legitimate” concerns.
I will speak of democracy because I have the ability to listen and respect all sides of an argument. I will not stay quite against ignorance and will speak the truth. I am not religious myself but your finger pointing and accusations boil my blood. The Diaspora had nothing to do with creating this movement and has no right to claim it as its own while disregarding and ignoring the true fighters in Iran.
I have lived in Iran most of my life and know that a good portion of the population is completely on a different page than the long displaced Diaspora. Even those of us who are completely secular do not preach death and hatred for our countrymen regardless of their views.

Bozorg, FreeIran, and Tangsir

Correct me if I am wrong but it seems that you do not care for those who are in jail and are actually fighting for democratic Iran in Iran. You seem blinded by your hatred by all things IR, Khomeini, and Islam. Again, do realize that for change and for a true democracy we need everyone to participate. Not just one group of people even if they are the majority. The KKK Clan mentality fits quite well with your way of thinking so do not blame me for pointing it out. There is “us” and there is “them”. You are either “with us” or “against us”. If you can’t even forgive Karroubi or Mousavi, how else should I categorize you?

You accuse the Green movement leaders of all the wrongs in the world while you leave Khamenei, jannati, yazdi, moghaddam, jafari, and ahmadinejad out. How is that logically possible? That should be left to Pirouz and other IR agents!

You are entitled to your opinions and more than welcome to ask your questions from the Green movement leaders and others when our brave young men and women “in Iran” succeed in changing the government. However do not forget that you disregarded their struggle and their clear voice during the fight. In fact you provided additional hurdles in their way and acted as a fifth column. From here, you sound like another Chalabi, hoping for a US Invasion to install your form of government at the expense of millions of Iranian lives. If you were not so closed minded you would be willing to accept and understand the fact that any future democratic Iran would have to include EVERYONE.

Am I wrong to say that you have not lived in Iran in the past 20-30 years? If you did, you would know that 95% the people had to work for the government since there are no other jobs! If you did, you would know that after 8 years of War with Saddam (fully supported and supplied by the west) Iranians have a bond that the long displaced Diaspora will never understand.


What do you think about Mousavi and Karroubi being part of the Movement’s leadership? Are you saying that they should disown and disregard Khomeini just to please a portion of the movement? What about the rest? Even if Khomeini fans are the minority or the enemy. Mousavi and Karroubi are reaching out to everyone in Iran. That is the only way for a national reconciliation and change without bloodshed. What do you expect from them? And how can that be achieved without giving more excuse to the current regime for bloodshed? Would that make our national reconciliation and inclusion of all sides easier?

I look forward to your answers.

Niloofar (Arashma) “Learned one!”,

You are obviously unable to comprehend the meaning of democracy or the fact people can respect others' views without being part of IR! Islam to you means Islamist which I guess based on Fox News’s dictionary translates to Terrorist. The simple fact that you said you put the words of your mother ahead of books is enough reason for me to stop here and not waste my time responding to you.

Ali / August 19, 2010 12:22 AM

Where did I "exactly" say that "let's get rid of all ethnic minorities"? This is an Islamization twisting of my words, and resembles not the history of iran, but the history of Islam. This resembles what Emam Hussain said if you replace "minorities" with "persians" [refer to Haj Qomi's translation of Emam's words].

Iranian is whoever considers him/herself iranian "first" and foremost and nothing allows him/her to interfere with what is best for iran and iranians. If an arab/turk/etc considers himself/herself an iranian first and foremost, then s/he is equal to any other iranian. It is the Islamic mullas who are dividing iranians into castes of ethnic and religious hierarchies with discriminating rights. They are the ones who order killing of bahai's, converted christians, sunni kurds, sunni baluchis, etc. There is the hand-writing of the highest Islamic authority in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei who writes that the most ancient iranians, the zoroasterian, are "Kafar" and should be treated differently. That is what his Islam says, NOT I.

However, if an arab/turk/kurd/baluch/fars/... is a separatist, or is a moslim/jew/... first, then by definition he cannot work towards well being of ALL iranians "first" as her/his other self would get in the way and his Iranian-ness becomes a second class slave to his other identify, as we see today in mullas (who know islam better than anyone else). We see that overtly in separatist arabs/turks as well as islamists like khomeini/khalkhali and their supporters.

Demise of Islam is coming from Mullas who practice it AND educated people who have intellect and read and listed and see what is happening, NOT from Islam bashers or Islamophobics. It is a self-destruction, NOT a destruction.

Iran BELONGS to ALL Iranians, NOT arabs, jews, or islamists.

Bobak K. / August 19, 2010 12:39 AM

Dear fellow Iranians and commenters,

You are not allowed to have an opinion about (against) Islam. If you do, then you are a Nazi-loving, Arab-hating Aryan supremacist. Islam is in your blood, so embrace it! You must accept that Iran is an Islamic Republic. In fact, it always has been (wink wink)! Forget your history and swallow the narrative being shoved down your throat.

War is peace, ignorance is strength and freedom is slavery!

On another note, it is obvious that Professor Sahimi has an opinion. But the information and analysis he provides is nonetheless very useful and interesting.

Pak / August 19, 2010 12:47 AM

Dear Ali @ 12:22 AM,

Don't underestimate the boundless wisdom of Niloofar's mom.

Ali from Tehran / August 19, 2010 12:58 AM

@Asghar Taregheh check who the tangsirs are and you will see that they are a minority and are not persian. no one talked about "race purity". Only you did Asghar with your beautiful name. the rest of your posting has the same quality as these two points i have been referring to.

@gogo what you are writing is the pornography in your mind. educating people has nothing to do with marching in as knights.

@B all ethnic are welcome in iran, but in the moment we are enjoying only a turkish-arab-islam monoculture with hatred toward the rest of the world. this has to change. the problem is not race, but the ideologie of turkishness and islam. both are responsible for several genocides in iran.

by the wa TB thanks to censoring my posts.

Tangsir2569 / August 19, 2010 1:00 AM

Yet I'm more tolerant than most.

moderator / August 19, 2010 1:10 AM


You generalize and misrepresent the points made here. Our struggle is for a democracy without bloodshed, respect for all beliefs and national reconciliation without civil war. You categorize this as love for the IR and Islam. You childish way of thinking is quite common, if not the norm, among the the long displaced Diaspora. Accusing others who do not agree with you of being Islamists and IR lovers only proves your ignorance.

If you cared enough to listen to others' points of views you would see that no one wants to shove anything down your throat (Fox News key word!). We are only saying that you have to respect everyone including those have a religion and those who do not. Please learn to read and listen to others who do no agree with you 100% without insulting them. If not, then do not claim that you support a democratic Iran.

Ali / August 19, 2010 1:32 AM

Ayatollah Khamenei who writes that the most ancient iranians, the zoroasterian, are "Kafar" and should be treated differently. He actually says they are ahl e kitab - people of the book- and therefore have to be respected as such.

rezvan / August 19, 2010 2:16 AM

"Tell me what are their legitimate concerns? Let me take a few guesses"

Why would I bother to engage someone who, without even knowing who I am, can easily "take a few guesses" about my beliefs. Pigeon holing me into your pre-conceived notions of who I am, or what I believe is not a good start, my friend.

You're clearly more interested in a monologue, than a dialogue.

And by the way, all your guesses and stereotyping are incorrect.

Bozorg / August 19, 2010 3:00 AM

Dear Ali,

You said that, "[o]ur struggle is for a democracy without bloodshed, respect for all beliefs and national reconciliation without civil war."

Hmmm. Respect for all beliefs? You also said:

"In fact, you sound like Ansare Hezbollah, Savak, and KKK combined."

"All you have to show for is your worthless blogs and posts..."

"You are filled with ignorance and think of anyone who does not follow your fascist way of thinking as the enemy."

"The KKK Clan mentality fits quite well with your way of thinking so do not blame me for pointing it out."

To top it off, you have supplied us with the quote of the day:

"I will speak of democracy because I have the ability to listen and respect all sides of an argument."

My friend, your doublespeak is admirable.

Pak / August 19, 2010 3:35 AM


So Zoroastrians are people of the book and "and therefore have to be respected as such".

What happens to people that are not "ahl e kitab" rather they are "kafar"? Please tell us what happens to these "kafars" according to the tolerant peace loving version of islam that your learned Ayatollahs preach in Iran today.

Agha Irani / August 19, 2010 4:14 AM

Pak damet Kish.

Too che badbachtyi ma iraniha gir kardima!

By the way: On my blog Tangsir2569 you can read now the serie "Bisotoons Vermächtnis" in german language. There Bisotoon tells the history of the moslem invasion of iran and how the tazi enslaved, murderd and maimed iranians and how they destroyed whole citys.


Tangsir2569 / August 19, 2010 4:15 AM


How is that stereotyping? Do you know what stereotyping means? You asked us "not to speak" and not respond to the people who "criticize the sacred cows of reformist-minded analysts" without cause. I reiterated my reasons for responding to people with their specific points of view. I did not make up their views or write it for them! That is not stereotyping. I simply pointed out what they believe in based on their writings and responded with facts. You ask me to shut up because I want you and the rest of closed minded individuals here to realize that everyone needs to be respected regardless of their beliefs. Beliefs that I might not share myself but I will stand up for. I would do the same for you in front of IR supporters.

If my guesses are incorrect then you are saying that you will be OK with having Mousavi as the next president? So you have nothing against people who have served in Iran in the past 30 years?

Why are you unable to tell us about these "legitimate" concerns??? I beg you to enlighten us. Even if not for me then at least do it for others whom you were defending. You are only serving to prove my points.

I am very interested in a dialog but all I hear from your side is insults, accusations and empty talk.

Ali / August 19, 2010 4:19 AM


You are on your way to becoming the next Glenn Beck and having your own show on Fox News. Way to take everything out of context.

So calling all Muslims terrorists and wanting to exclude anyone with religion or past in Iranian government from a future democratic Iran is not KKK Clan mentality? Tell me what it is then?

In fact, all we have to show for is out worthless posts and blogs! Were you in Iran during 09? How about 99? Did you spill any blood? Did you get beat up? Did you go to jail? How does these posts and blogs, especially the ones attacking Mousavi and Karroubi or all Muslims help the Green movement?

Do you or do you not think of Mousavi and Karroubi as your enemies? How about religious individuals? Only because they do not follow your exact way of thinking? How is that not fascism?

I could see your side of the argument if you had one. Unfortunately you only take what you want to hear, screw the facts and have nothing to contribute.

Prove me otherwise. I still haven’t heard one valid point from you or your righteous religion and Mousavi hating buddies.

Ali / August 19, 2010 4:44 AM

Ali, you know what'll calm you down? A nice, cold glass of doogh. I prefer mine with mint.

So let's bring some order and clarity to this hitherto high-decibel exchange with two simple questions: in your view, (1) who are the million plus Iranians who make up the Diaspora, and (2)why should they play no role in debating and fighting for the future of Iran?

Bozorg / August 19, 2010 4:53 AM

Mr. Tang Seer:

You still have not answered the questions posed to you. If you are not talking about race purity, then what does,

"A Muslim cannot be Iranian and an Iranian cannot be a Muslim"

mean? You mean Iranians are genetically disposed not to be Muslims? Aside from the fact that tens of millions are - and practicing at that - if what you say is true, why is this not race purity nonsense? If not, explain how Iranians cannot be Muslims.

What does (aside from the English errors)

"moslem invasion of iran and how the tazi enslaved, murderd and maimed iranians and how they destroyed whole citys"

mean? Why are you not mad at "Moghol haa," for example, because they brought far more and much more terrible destruction to Iran?

Your chauvinistic language targets 1.2 billion Muslims with NO EXCEPTION. When any person targets a whole population for their beliefs (or race, or gender, ..), it cannot be interpreted any other way than racism!

Hitler used to say the same, except that he targeted another part of the Semite race, the Jews.

Asghar Taregheh / August 19, 2010 6:23 AM

Dear Ali from Tehran: the epitome of a commenter who has nothing to contribute,

Thank you for demonstrating how to take something out of context by comparing me to Glenn Beck.

In answer to your many questions, no, yes, no, no, no and:

It is not attacking; it is questioning and challenging a topic that is unnecessarily sensitive. Mousavi was Prime Minister at a time when thousands upon thousands of young men and women were executed. We have discussed this before – the difference between legal and moral responsibility – and you let Mousavi off the hook by charging him with only moral responsibility (your argument against charging him with legal responsibility is still dubious). Mousavi also continues to pledge his undying support to a proven dictator and mass-murderer. But is that good enough? The Green Movement is founded upon morality, so these questions must be asked. And many people are obviously unhappy. I believe a substantial number of Green supporters have concluded that Mousavi et al are our only hope in the near future, but this is not an excuse to shut up and put up. If we want the movement to progress, we must put pressure on the figureheads. And they have responded, have they not? Read the Green Charter one more time to see what I mean. Opinion creates discourse; discourse creates action.

I never called all Muslims terrorists and I never said that we should exclude religious people from government. Is that how you view criticism of Islam? How telling. No – I believe we have a duty to re-examine the role of religion in society. I even believe that the reformists are coming to the conclusion that church and state should be separate – albeit at a snail’s pace. And a secular government does not equate to the exclusion of religious people from government. This is a very elementary interpretation of secularism and demonstrates a knee-jerk, defensive reaction. How telling again.

As for excluding politicians with a past in the Islamic Republic: well, bring in some of the Shah’s men and we can call it even! For now, we must be pragmatic and take everything at face value. That is, a massive power struggle is in progress within the regime and we must place our bets with the least-worst, i.e. the reformists, because there is no credible alternative. Once the floodgates of reform open, we will hopefully undergo a second Tehran Spring and democracy will speak for itself.

As a footnote, why all the hate towards the Diaspora? This logic of “you are only entitled to an opinion if you still reside in Iran, or at least if you spilled blood, were beaten or imprisoned” is laughably flawed. Do you not think that being forced into a life away from your home is punishment? Naturally, many people left out of choice; as a previous commenter said, the concepts of humanism and liberalism are not alien to Iranians, hence why Iranians assimilate and succeed in such great numbers in the West. But what about the huge number of people who did not leave out of choice, the people who were forced or even chased out of their homeland? Hey, despite the non-democratic regime in Iran, we still have a vote! So we are entitled to an opinion too. We also represent some of the brightest and most successful Iranians due to the brain drain, so our human capital is essential to the future prosperity of Iran. That includes you and others like you, who are a part of the Diaspora but portray a false-identity by branding other expats as sell-outs.

Pak / August 19, 2010 6:58 AM

You are right Ali. Everyone is ignorant but you.
Nobody has called Muslims anything. The whole issue is about Islamists who have been and are running Iran. The whole issue is about their attempt to redecorate Iran with new names and characters to cover up their Islamist evil that has almost destroyed your country.

Ali to Free Iran:
“Free Iran, Do you have any points of your own? You use article from demonstration in Canada! Your ignorance of your non relativity is astonishing. You do know that this movement is in Iran?”

Let’s look at what he said earlier to Cyrus who correctly stated,
““Also the first week after the elections we heard the slogan " Mousavi is an excuse, the whole system is the target."
Ali responded,
I am unable to find even one video on you tube..”
This is what Sayeh Hassan reported last year in Canada Free Press,
“Back to the protest, after about an hour I and a few people that were standing beside me started shouting anti Regime slogans such as “Down with the Islamic Regime” and “Mousavi is just an excuse, the entire Regime has been targeted.” This did not go well with Regime Supporters who tried their best to make us stop.”

So Iranians were indeed questioning Mousavi. But does Ali who claims tolerance and respect for different views bother to acknowledge the views of his fellow Iranians? Are all Iranians forced out of their country, KKK, Hezbollah and Savak?

Ali to Pak:
"You are on your way to becoming the next Glenn Beck and having your own show on Fox News. Way to take everything out of context.
So calling all Muslims terrorists and wanting to exclude anyone with religion or past in Iranian government from a future democratic Iran is not KKK Clan mentality?”

Ali accuses Niloofar of putting her mother's words before books. But this is what she really said,
"I look upon my mother as a close friend whom despite all the hardships in her life has been a guiding light, but when her words are echoed by scores of Iranians then it leaves me no choice to decide whose side is telling the truth. Books are fine, but they will never replace real people, their collective experience and legitimate feelings."

He completely ignores her very valid points.

To NP:
“What do you think about Mousavi and Karroubi being part of the Movement’s leadership? Are you saying that they should disown and disregard Khomeini just to please a portion of the movement? What about the rest?..”

I don't ever recall Iranian people having the luxury of freedom to express their views with regard to the Islamic Republic. In Iran if you question I.R. you die. Then who are the 'rest'? Is he referring to the ‘silenced’ majority who have no other choice but preselected in-house Islamist characters to chew on, i.e. Mousavi, Karubi, and Ahmadijehad?

Do these words surprise you?

“Our friends in Diaspora who have such blind hatred for anything Islam need to wake up from their 31 year old dream and smell the reality. You cannot preach hatred for those in Iran who do not share your beliefs and pretend that you are any better than IR.
Arshama (who sounds quite like Niloofar) and Tangsir would put at least 25% of Iranians against the wall without trial. In fact, you sound like Ansare Hezbollah, Savak, and KKK combined.”

When their only fault is they do not agree with Ali and Islamists who are running Iran.

I let the readers judge for themselves who are really telling them the truth.

Free Iran - Iranians deserve better / August 19, 2010 7:31 AM

Asghari googooli A religious ideology have nothing to do with race, and for those poor bastards who had no choice but to accept this ideology, a future iranian nation will have to provide help and education, so that at least their children can be free human beings. and it is clear that mongols, alexander the great and the turks did produce a lot of suffer, but our actual problem right now is turkishness and islam.

and now continue to yell Hitler. Thats how you expose which one of us is the fanatic and show also the other readers what islam turns human being to.

I am very sorry for you, that you have been raped by these idelogies. hopefully your children will be less fanatic and full of hatred than you, and of course more educated Ali Asghar Mohammad

Tangsir / August 19, 2010 11:35 AM

the hatred towards the Diaspora is based in the idelogy of turkishness and islam, that preaches this kind of nonsense. they say we iranians in exile are no adequate iranians, as if we stopped to be and feel iranian since we had to leave our country.

The second point is that i will never criticize peopple in iran supportin mousavi&co. but i can criticize people in the diaspora for doing the same, since we have liberty here and we should use it to express our true opinion, especially express the opinion that the people in iran can NOT express.

but the allahistis want us all to have the exact same opinion and can not bear up the fact that the youg generation of iranians have an own opinion, and that they even have the impudence to express it.

I know that for you Alis, Asghars, Mohamads, and Kalalis this is a blasphemous behaviour, but you will have to get used to it.

Long live the Iranian Renaissance.

Marg bar regime eschghalgare, tajavozgare eslami.

Eslam go home!

Tangsir2569 / August 19, 2010 11:45 AM

Muhammad, I voted Green (did you?), that's a given.

I see you skipped what I had to say, and instead accused me of being an Ahmadinejad supporter. That's a pretty typical reaction, ignoring the facts and making accusations (such as IRI agent) or even name calling.

What I said about non-subversive, more liberal members of the Iranian electorate still stands, no matter how inconvenient that may be for those of the diaspora that fantasize otherwise.

Here we are in the latter part of 2010, and much of your previous analyses have proven unreliable. In the future, may I suggest a strong dose of realism.

Pirouz / August 19, 2010 11:59 AM

Dear Pak @ 6:58 AM,

'Ali from Tehran' is not 'Ali', so please keep me clear of the slovenly word barrages you two are flinging at one another.

You can distinguish my moniker by its 'from Tehran' modifier.

Yes, it's incredibly subtle and dauntingly difficult, but for one who considers himself among the brightest of the brain-drain brigade, perhaps you can manage?

Ali from Tehran / August 19, 2010 4:50 PM

Dear Ali from Tehran,

My last post was addressed to you, hence why I answered your questions. So I have managed fine. I have noticed others make the mistake you are suggesting, but I assumed my reference to our discussions about legal and moral responsibility made it clear I was addressing you.

I guess my only mistake was to include you in my generalisation of the Iranian Diaspora. I apologise sincerely!

Pak / August 19, 2010 6:51 PM

Dear confused Pak,

I didn't ask any questions, silly. You must reduce your caffeine intake before the psychosis becomes irreversible.

Ali from Tehran / August 19, 2010 8:08 PM

Dear Ali from Tehran,

You are right. I am wrong. The double spacing in Ali's previous comment caught me out.

Pak / August 19, 2010 9:09 PM

Ali - in response to your questions, from a pragmatic standpoint, these guys are the current leaders of the Green movement, and I do not have a problem with that - it is what it is, and they are being helpful, subject to their own limitations and deficiencies. What I was asking about, and what I am concerned about, is overstating just how wonderful these guys are. I think any commentator who magnifies the greatness of Mousavi et al, without simultaneously pointing out their massive deficiencies, loses legitimacy. And it makes me absolutely uncomfortable that they praise "Imam" (I have a few better names) Khomeini and the "Islamic system" etc. - I think that is an insult, and delegitimizes them long term. And again, when commentators gloss over this major character/policy flaw, it gives me pause. Finally, I am bothered by the fact that your faction so easily dismisses doubts such as mine as ramblings of the "monarchists" or "diaspora", when I know first hand that these feelings are also prevalent in non-monarchists who currently live in or recently departed Iran. So there's a major credibility problem, and that frustrates national reconciliation.

My sense is that many of you want to go back in time, convince yourselves or prove that the Revolution you supported was a great idea despite recent history evidencing that it was one of the most disastrous events in Iran's history, then justify everything Mousavi did to fit your preconceived notion, defend (or at least fail to condemn) the effects of Khomeini and Islam on the nation's governing system, all in an attempt to "make it right" by being able to say that your causing of the Khomeini era was not wrong after all b/c the result is that Saint Mousavi is now in power. This is a problem, and this is the "more of the same" you hear about from all walks of life (young, old, liberal, conservative, neocon or not). In sum, I have no problem using Mousavi et al right now, and applaud their current actions. However, that doesn't have to prevent me from disliking their past actions, their current view re: Khomeini and Islamic government, and wanting leaders who are much, much better in the future.

So now, tell me - why do people in your group, Prof Sahimi included, feel so restricted in criticizing them, their past actions, their current professed loyalty to Khomeini, etc.? I know you all are not shy about criticizing Khamenei, Ahmadi, Jafari, et al - which I applaud - but why are you curiously and impliedly absolutely supporting Mousavi without professing the slightest bit of discomfort that he pledges support to the architect of this 30 year nightmare, the lowlife sub-human Khomeini? Do you have any concerns that your "leaders" praise Khomeini and the IR? Do you think these people can truly lead a "non-religious" movement while simultaneously professing love, admiration and loyalty to folks who have stood for the exact opposite notion? I look forward to to your answer.

What I do not look forward to is any more piss'n'vinegar spewing from Comical Ali from Omaha. Though I do take great pleasure in more and more readers calling him out for being the cocky and useless contributor that he is. Poor guy, can't help himself, can't buy a friend.

np / August 19, 2010 10:14 PM

Dear Ali,

In case you decide to engage this half-demented NP in dialogue, bear in mind that he refers to Mousavi as Khomeini's "boy toy", and is an advocate of restoring mini-Pahlavi to power (democratically, of course - wink, wink), as demonstrated in his 'respectful' rant against Dr. Sahimi earlier this year:

"Prof. Sahimi, with all due respect, you stomp your feet and cry "no, no, I do not like monarchy, never did, never will" but what is your specific problem with "constitutional" (i.e. democratic) monarchy? Does the idea of Don Juan (Carlos), the Queen, and Reza Pahlavi watching a polo match in Tehran while democratically elected governments run their countries so abhor you? You talk of us letting go of the past and forgetting about monarchy, but why don't you let go of the past and stop associating Reza Pahlavi with the torturers of the Cold War.

"Don't throw away 2500 years of monarchic tradition so easily, my fellow Iranis, and dismiss all constitutional-monarchists as delusional. Better to incorporate our common history into an evolved, modern day system that unifies the good people of Iran."

(NP, Jan 05, 2010 @ 12:32 PM)

Ali from Tehran / August 19, 2010 10:55 PM


You did not bother to answer my questions but I will answer yours: The Diaspora can be categorized to three groups: people who left before the revolution, during (or shortly) the revolution, and a large group who left years after the revolution. Most of the first two groups have not been to Iran since and unfortunately have no clue of the realities on the ground. They have an obvious hatred for anything IR and I do not blame them for it. However, this group is irrelevant to say the least. They have no connections to Iran and most likely not even a valid passport. Some of these individuals (Free Iran, Niloorfar, and Tangsir) only care about what they have been spoon fed over and over for the past 31 years or so. They are not to blame for their ignorance because their dreams are all they could hold on to in a foreign land. The dreams however have turned into fantasies after all these years. This small group only wants the Green movement to succeed only if it achieves their goals and nothing less. Their goals however are unrealistic to say the least; an Iran purified of Islam and religion. A Green Movement that is purely secular and excludes anyone who had ever a role in IR. This group is simply unable to comprehend the fact that change does not happen overnight and will require all Iranians regardless of their beliefs and backgrounds to participate. Their ignorance only plays to hands of IR goons who justify their acts by connecting the poor kids in Iran to what has been rambled on by this group and their puppet masters on their TV stations where no one or no deity is immune from their insults.

The third group, who are the majority from what I have seen in the Diaspora demonstrations, includes some of the smartest and brightest kids of Iran who were able to leave one or another, almost always to pursue higher education, and escape the war and post war conditions in Iran. This group will be the true backbone of the Green Movement outside of Iran. They have a real understanding of the facts on the ground. That change cannot be achieved over night and that they have to support and follow the lead of their brothers in sisters in Iran and not work against them. They accept that all groups have to be included in the future democratic Iran. This group can and will be a great force in helping the Green movement’s voice be heard outside of Iran.

What we have to realize is that at the end it will be up to the people in Iran to actually make these changes. We have to follow their lead and not be hurdles in their way.


Ali from Tehran is not me so try and not confuse us. It shows how much you care to read to posts before responding.

I was responding to the Iranian Neocons on this site until you came along and declared (since you love quotes let me quote a whole paragraph of what you wrote and not a selected sentence out of context):

“You are not allowed to have an opinion about (against) Islam. If you do, then you are a Nazi-loving, Arab-hating Aryan supremacist. Islam is in your blood, so embrace it! You must accept that Iran is an Islamic Republic. In fact, it always has been (wink wink)! Forget your history and swallow the narrative being shoved down your throat.”

That is a complete misrepresentation what was said, do you really think having an opinion about Islam is the same is Tangsir’s and niloofar’s racist and one sided rants? Trying to educate these people is like talking to a parrot which can only remember a few hundred words and has already reached its limit.

I was not even addressing you but your guru racist anti religious buddies but let’s move on they are not worth our time.

You are telling me that you can be morally, if not legally responsible by not showing concern over the executions in 67. However you do not know or seem to care who actually ordered, orchestrated and carried out the executions? Where does that put your morals?

It is great you finally care about those poor souls who were killed in 67. I just wonder if you can show the same moral concern for the kids are in Jail now, more than millions who died in the War with Saddam while the then Diaspora cheered on, and those who died at the hands of Savak since 42.

Please do not try to hide your selective judgment behind you clever words or justify others who do so.

And you misquote:
“This logic of “you are only entitled to an opinion if you still reside in Iran, or at least if you spilled blood, were beaten or imprisoned” is laughably flawed.”

Am I now justified to compare you to Glenn Beck??? You are actually putting quotation marks and putting words in my mouth??? Where did you find that sentence? When did I say you are not entitled to your opinion? Do I have to quote myself? Amazing!

“You are entitled to your opinions and more than welcome to ask your questions from the Green movement leaders and others when our brave young men and women “in Iran” succeed in changing the government.”

“In fact, all we have to show for is out worthless posts and blogs! Were you in Iran during 09? How about 99? Did you spill any blood? Did you get beat up? Did you go to jail? How does these posts and blogs, especially the ones attacking Mousavi and Karroubi or all Muslims help the Green movement?”

I actually agree with a lot of your points although you were unable to answer any of my questions (yes or no is not an answer) about the general mentalities found here. Taking a subject personal that is not even about you blinds you from seeing the truth. If you had actually read the posts you would see that your initial response was the actual knee-jerk, defensive reaction. At least I am glad you unlike some other folks here have valid points to make but do realize that these folks would not agree with any of the points you made here.

Free Iran,

You keep on amusing me by your lack of aptitude.

The chants were in IN CANADA dear NOT IN IRAN!
So I am an Islamists because I do not agree with you? And you consider Ahmadinejad Karroubi and Mousavi the same?

Thank you for proving my points. I cannot possibly justify wasting time to respond to your nonsense.

Ali / August 19, 2010 11:39 PM


Let me clear one thing; my family lost everything in the revolution. They were high ranking officials in Shah government, and in Hezbe Rastakhiz. After the revolution they endured jail time, torture, disrespect, forced retirements, land confiscations and so on. My family and I are as none religious and Khomeini hating as it gets. So all this Isalmist and revolution loving accusations only makes doubt the true intentions of the accusers.

I feel that it is my duty to respect and speak for all Iranians. Including the ones that would put me against the wall in an instance.

You have to realize that this movement cannot and does not belong to one group of people. It cannot be characterized as secular, or religious, as nationalists or western leaning. It encompasses people from all walks of life. I do not wish to speak for others but I have no problem with Mousavi quoting Khemeini’s finer statements such as “Mizan Raye Mellat ast” or separation of military and government. Whether we like or hate Khomeini what we have to realize is that there is a large powerful minority who does care about religion and Khomeini. We cannot and should not leave these people out or disrespect them at every opportunity we get. We will not be able to build a better and democratic future for Iran by excluding them and this will not make our struggle any easier. In addition; we only need to worry about the living. Khomeini is long gone and he is either enduring the fruits of his actions or not depending on what you believe. However we cannot allow him to hunt us from the grave and stop us from reaching our ultimate goal. You concerns are legitimate but imagine Obama disrespecting Reagan. It simply does not make sense. Khomeini might have been a horrible person but my question is how does disowning and insulting him or others who worked with him and the regime, but are now with the people and suffering for the rest of us, help the movement and allow for inclusion of all Iranians in the struggle for a better tomorrow?

We have to work to unite the people of Iran against what is evil today. That is truly the only way to success.

Ali / August 20, 2010 12:26 AM

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,
This is what I have been spoon fed for the last 31 years.

In 1980, Ayatollah Khomeini proclaimed “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. I say, let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant.”

This is the same mullah who guided his followers by the following quote from his book, "Tahrirolvasyleh."
“A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows, camels, and so on. However, he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village; however, selling the meat to the next door village should be fine.”

This is the same mullah who in response to a simple question concerning his level of excitement on the brink of his return to our sacred homeland Iran answered, ”Heechi which means in Persian.”

Would you in your right mind submit to such character as your spiritual leader? Hand over your country to him? And entrust him with the future of your people and your children?
Would you trust characters that idealized him and encouraged a nation to follow this mullah as their supreme leader / Imam what have you?

Allow me to list some of Mousavi’s previous accomplishments. In any civilized and democratic society a candidate’s political history is of utter importance.

1. Mousavi defended the taking and holding of American hostages by Islamist militants. A proven political disaster for Iran.
2. Mousavi consistently favored state control over the economy. A proven method of economic failure world wide.
3. Mousavi boasted in 1985 that his interior minister, Ali Akbar Mohtashami, was a religious conservative who had built his reputation while building Hezbollah in Lebanon.
4. Mousavi had a direct role in the arms-for-hostages scandal known as the Iran-Contra affairs. He worked closely with Khamenei on this matter.
5. Mousavi is opposed to suspending the country’s nuclear-enrichment program. I (Niloofar) see nothing wrong with Iran’s nuclear energy program and everything wrong with an attempt on behalf of the archaic Islamists to gain a nuclear weapons program. To date I have seen no solid evidence of WMD in Iran, but I do understand the lack of trust demonstrated by the world towards a regime that has no respect for human life, especially and oddly enough the lives of its own citizens.

My respect has increased immensely for Karubi since he declared the Iranian people as the true leaders of the green movement. I even heard today he has gone one step further in assuring the Iranian people that should they vote against the Islamic government their wish MUST be honored. Why this particular response from him? Iranians are increasingly asking the ultimate question concerning the existence of the religious government as the majority of Iranians see the value of a secular government, one separate from religion and based on human rights.

However, we no longer just trust, we trust and verify and adhere to a system of checks and balances since absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Finally, we remember the victims of the massacre in Rex Cinema in the southern city of Abadan in Iran. The barbaric Islamists clearly proved their genocidal nature and murdered hundreds of innocent beings in their quest for power. It is widely believed that mullah Khamenei was personally involved in this butchery. These murderers will be tried and punished for their crimes against humanity as history is my witness. The 21st century Iran is no place for these barbarians.

Niloofar / August 20, 2010 2:23 AM

Dear Ali,

Firstly, I apologise for the confusion.

I find it hard to fathom why you are willing to let Mousavi off the hook merely because he was not the one to order, orchestrate and carry out the executions. He was Prime Minister at the time and best buds with Khomeini! Not only him, but his entire government should be held both legally and morally responsible for the mass executions, along with many other crimes against humanity. Those who relieve him of any responsibility should also consider how they would treat a senior ranking Nazi official, because they are all as guilty as each other. Are you seriously asking me where my morals are? I should be the one asking you where your morals are.

Stop playing the guilty conscience card, because you are failing miserably. You are twisting logic and somehow accusing me of not caring about those who have been murdered by this regime – because I disagree with some people from this regime! I have said it before and I will say it again: the Green Movement figureheads are all we have at the moment and their current actions are admirable. We should support them. But I will not shut up and put up with Mousavi et al for this reason. This backward mentality of blind obedience does not work with me. Look where it got us with Khomeini. It is our duty – especially those of us who have the freedom and safety to think and speak for ourselves – to challenge men and women in leadership positions.

Your mentality towards the Diaspora is very crude. You have no idea what you are talking about; let alone the fact that you are likely to be an expat yourself.

I did not misquote you. May be you should read what I said again – also read what you said to me before. And how else do you want me to answer your questions, such as, “[w]ere you in Iran in 09”? Is NO not good enough? OK – No, in January I was covertly laundering money in Cuba for CIA agents in Iran. In February I was deep-sea fishing off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. In March I was smuggling weapons into Chad. In April I was teaching English to dolphins in Florida. ETC ETC ETC

Ali, I may have confused your posts with someone else, but you are the one who does not care about what others say. I reasonably responded to your points; you have given me back nothing other than doublespeak, which validates my original point. All hail the Islamic Republic of Iran!

Pak / August 20, 2010 3:37 AM

I didn’t answer your questions because there was an unending list of them, and you presumptively answered most of them on my behalf.

But thanks for your answers to my questions.

While I don’t entirely agree with your characterization of the Diaspora, I understand you a bit better. I think 9 out of 10 of us share the same goal: to transform Iran into a prosperous and healthy nation. Because we disagree on the means to achieve that goal, we need to have a healthy, dynamic debate without fear of ad hominem attacks and knee-jerk dismissal. Everything must be questioned and subject to critical scrutiny. No leader or plan of action is infallible. We should not repeat the mistakes of ’79. In my opinion, all Iranians, expatriates included, ought to be part of this conversation.

I find your tone to be harmful to substantive, collaborative discussion. It seems like you’re very cagey, ready to pounce on anyone you deem “unacceptable.” You do yourself and the rest of the contributors a great disservice with that approach.

As for the IR exploiting what some guy on some L.A. satellite station might have said – trust me, the IR will always lie and distort things for their nefarious ends, regardless of what anyone actually says.

The IR already muzzles people inside of the country; we shouldn’t let them muzzle those outside of it too.

I agree that we should settle on a minimum list of demands (free press, release of political prisoners, etc) so as to bring more people into the tent, but more importantly, there needs to be real discussion about how we can achieve those demands. I feel like that’s sorely missing right now, and that Mousavi has taken an unproductively passive approach. What do you think?

Bozorg / August 20, 2010 5:19 AM


I apologize for mistaking you for a grown up individual. You are still unable to answer any of my questions and instead try an inadequate farce which does not cover your derisory understanding of Iranian history or my points. You obviously do not care about the truth and the fact that Mousavi had no role in the executions!!! Sorry to tickle your conscious but you are not challenging anyone but simply repeating lies that have been fed to you.

You ignore the racists and divisionary comments and turn a blind eye to my quest for unity. Signs of another brain washed kid of Diaspora. Maybe a bit smarter than the likes Niloofar and first generations despots like Tangisr and Free Iran but schooled in the same mentality of blind hatred and pretence. You are unable to stand anyone who points out you parents’ deficiencies and defends the people who have stayed in Iran. I can tell for a fact you have never lived there, do not have any friends there, or can relate to the kids in Iran who get beat up for wearing jeans and T-shirts. Your highness has more noble causes to worry about, such as “But I will not shut up and put up with Mousavi” and “to challenge men and women in leadership positions”. Well how about you challenge the real leaders of Iran, Mr. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad?

You clearly misquoted me and do not have the courage to own up to it. If my understanding is crude at least I have an understanding. I have seen both sides and speak the reality. Turn on an Iranian TV channel and then tell me that I am wrong. You hide your hatred of all things Islam and Islamic republic in empty accusations and progressive cover. At least be brave enough to admit it. I have only been here for 10 years, was part of the 99 uprising and have been beaten up by Basij more times than you have watched ninja turtles. “All hail the Islamic Republic of Iran!” Sure buddy! You show us who the double speaker is here.

Ali / August 20, 2010 5:48 AM


Let me answer your question. I do not shy away from criticizing anyone. But, there has to be a basis for legitimate criticism.

While Mir Hossein can be criticized on some grounds, in my opinion, overall, his leadership of the movement and his own evolution have been outstanding.

But, regarding some specific points that you and others raise:

1. In my view, most of what Mousavi says about Ayatollah Khomeini is, (i) out of expediency and due to complexities of the situation, and (ii) because he wants to compare the true Ayatollah - true, as he saw him - with what Khamenei and others do in Ayatollah Khomeini's name. You and others may think that this is an exercise in futility, but those who know the complexities of Iran know better why he does what he does. And, by the way, Mir Hossein has de-emphasized the Ayatollah recently.

2. Mir Hossein had no practical role in the executions of 1988, none whatsoever. People constantly say, "He was the PM. He must have known." But his letter of resignation in September 1988, publicized by Abolhasan Banisadr, clearly indicated that no, he did not know about a lot of things, and in fact that was one reason that he had resigned. Two weeks ago he talked about Mohsen Rafighdoost, the Minister of Sepaah in his cabinet, making it clear that he had been imposed on him. Rafighdoost, in his own interview, made it clear that he and others did a lot of things without telling Mir Hossein. Mir Hossein was also opposed to the continuation of Iran-Iraq war beyond the Spring of 1982.

Mir Hossein does owe the nation one explanation: His views regarding the executions. So, he has a moral responsibility.

In my view, right now, if the movement sets aside Mir Hossein, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, Karroubi, Khatami, and the leading reformists in and out of Evin, it has in effect decapitated itself. It will be left without effective leadership, and will be doomed.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 20, 2010 7:18 AM

I encourage you to watch the following segment on dateline. let the regime insiders tell you about the realities of Iran.

"Iran, where God does not exist."


Niloofar / August 20, 2010 7:48 AM

Niloofar, In another thread you conveniently accused all adults during the late '70s that the revolution is their fault and that generation should not have any say in anything. Approximately how old are you? You and Maziar seem to base your opinions on the very little that you know about those years (Maziar made a very weak and strange justification trying to support your position on this issue and in that same thread).

Also, how do you know for a fact if it was the pro-Islamics and not the leftists (read anyone of the marxists and communists of different colors and kinds) who committed that heinous crime of burning cimena Rex and killing many innocent people? This is what you wrote here and again with such confidence. Not that I would put it past either group being involved in that crime, but I am addressing your contention that you know who did it for a fact, while you were not there due to not being from that generation. Even people from my generation cannot say with confidence who (the Islamics or anyone of the communists, marxists committed that cinemae Rex crime a fact). And I was in Iran, an adult, working, and attending a major university (masters program), you must've heard that university campuses were where one could hear a lot on what was happening during those years.

A little humility is what I am suggesting as a friendly advice. We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason, I'm referring to that old Persian proverb.

From that generation / August 20, 2010 9:08 AM

Dear Ali,

What questions? How did you ascertain a "derisory understanding of Iranian history" from my posts? What lies are you talking about? That Mousavi was Prime Minister of the same government that oversaw the executions of thousands of young, innocent men and women?

Ali, there is a difference between plurality and diversity, and unity. I believe the majority of Green supporters are united in their quest to attain justice, democracy and basic human rights in Iran. But what you are suggesting is a unity akin to blind obedience, something that is unfortunately quite common in Iranian mentality. And you are demonstrating this attitude perfectly by directing wild accusations at me merely because I am criticising - with justification - Mousavi and co. This is plurality and diversity. And this has nothing to do with the atrocities that have and continue to be committed by the Islamic Republic - something that everybody is united against. Anyway, Mousavi and co have been a part of this same Islamic Republic since its inception, so why are you getting so defensive!?

You really have a crude mentality towards the Diaspora. How dare people run away from their homeland! They should stay there and continue to get imprisoned, tortured and raped in the name of nobility! I am more than willing to point out the deficiencies of my parents' generation; just as Professor Sahimi.

I. Did. Not. Misquote. You. In the instance you are talking about, I did not even quote you, let alone misquote you. I insist you read it again. And once more just in case.

Look, you clearly have an opinion and you are entitled to it. But so are others, even if their opinions are too challenging for your traditional, closed mentality. The Islamic Republic, along with the wider role of religion in society, must be put to trial in order for us - as a people and as a nation - to progress. I do not care if Islam has been a part of us for 1,400 years; monarchy has been a part of us for 2,500 years, so should we bow down and kiss the feet of Reza Pahlavi too?

By the way, read Mousavi's Green Charter again. Read Karroubi's latest interview. In both instances, the role of religious governance has been questioned, albeit very weakly. But do you honestly think this would have happened if there was no pressure put on these men? Blind obedience and the unity you envisage will get us nowhere, as demonstrated by Khomeini's glorious revolution.

Pak / August 20, 2010 4:20 PM

ps. Further Ms. Niloofar, those who didn't support either groups mentioned (the Islamics or any of the communist groups), were gussing that the cinema Rex criminal act was most likely the job of Mohjahedin-e Khalgh (MEK), and if not them maybe the work of Fadayean-e Khalgh.

From that generation / August 20, 2010 7:21 PM

Doc, sahimi, I can't believe you are so ignorant of the nature of these islamists; what you said in your last comment is totally wrong and you just don't get it. Moosavi is a piece of dirt and the people know it, yet use him as a stepping stone to express themselves. Moosavi is responsible for each and every crime that IRI committed and he knows it. He shows face of change to cover up his past crimes. What you are saying is that he was either incompetent, or is an admirer of khomeini or is lying; and you expect (likes of) me to endear him because he may be lying (like khomeini was). I cannot believe you have not learned a bit from experience of last 31 years. Grow up sir and set aside your islamist and revolutionary self-perfection side till you see the truth.

Moosavi is a Malaria Mosquito that only deserve to be stepped on, and if that step-on leads to his demise AND some elevation of the iranians, so be it.

By the way, general Nasiri told in his last interview that he did not know about tortures in evin, as you claim Moosavi was. Even Moosavi NEVER claimed that he did not know about mass murders; besides, he must have been totally deaf and blind and stupid not to have known; but would you give the same pass that you give to moosavi to general nasiri (or the shah that also claimed not knowing about tortures) for their crimes?

hassan / August 20, 2010 8:30 PM

Dear From that generation,

First of all, how about a little courage to post under your own name. As a general rule people are not murdered in the United States for sharing their thoughts. You do not need to hide behind an assumed title. Yes, it is quite obvious you are from that generation. You have not managed to overcome your fears even though you live in a free society.

I was born a little after your glorious revolution. I opened my eyes to the misery you people left behind.

I have no right to speak for Mr. Maziar Dr., I am sure he can speak for himself.

My only advice to you people is to take a good look at your rear view mirror once in a while to see the extent of misery you people left behind before exercising your ever endless arrogance of insistence in failed leadership. You people are political flunkouts. What does it take to make you realize it?

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, people would like to see the last of this religious monstrosity?

We are tired of the method of exclusion of everyone with an intention of selling a defective product called Mousavi. Just sick and tired of it. There are some 70 million Iranians in this world of ours. Just look at the track record of Iranians in the United States. A proof of what Iranians are capable of given a chance of freedom and yet,in repeated make belief attempts we are forced fed the one and only Mousavi and now his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, one of the greatest geniuses of the 21st century. How lovely.

Humility my dear must be expressed by those who commit the mischief, not the victims of their stupidity. I hold no grudge, but I will not remain silent and allow this madness to go on.

They stole your glorious revolution from you. Oh dear, did they steal your presidential election from you too? I can’t believe it Dr., how naughty of them.

The only realistic solution is to have a free and totally inclusive referendum in Iran for all people to pick the government/candidates of their choosing. This option has just as much chance for success as any other under the present circumstances.

I do not differentiate between Communists/Marxists in cahoots with Islamists which included the Mohjahedin-e Khalgh as it was clearly the case in Iran. The former thought they could use the latter to their advantage. As it turned out, they were made of the same silly material the reformists are made of. They were used, abused and thrown into the garbage can of history.
In any civilized society the collaborator to any crime is charged for that crime and must face the due process of law. Just open your eyes and read up on the mass executions carried out by the Islamists to hush up all the would be witnesses to their crimes.

Good try though to divert attention, it does not work. The problem you people are facing is that the stench of stupidity exhibited is so strong it cannot be covered up no matter how hard you try.

Niloofar / August 20, 2010 9:19 PM


I apologize if I sounded cagey! Overall I have a fiery attitude and you are correct in pointing that out. Although when you see people like Niloofar (hassan) insult everyone including Dr. Sahimi who’s one breath has more knowledge in it than the whole life of “I take my mom’s words for granted” Clan member Niloofar who changes names to insult people. Calls everyone who does not agree with her Islamist and Mousavi “a piece of dirt” and “Malaria Mosquito that only deserve to be stepped on” I see no other choice but to shove the truth down their throat as they would say!

It troubles me to see people who have nothing to lose sit here and ramble on about Mousavi’s supposed “crimes” while we have kids who are dying in IR’s jails every day. There are so many other messages that be conveyed instead of the pure hatred and negativity that you see here but all I hear from some people is how their enemies are animals and should put against the wall. How does that make us any better than them?

Love your enemy and you shall overcome him.

With regards to your question about Mousavi’s stance; first consider the fact that he is and has been under house arrest since the election. Second what would you have him do differently? Are you calling him passive because he has not called for the total destruction of the Isalmic republic and for people to take up arms against the government? That is something I might have done! However, considering the reality on the ground that would have surely lead the Greens defeat the regime has all the gun and not shy in using the. I think his actions and especially words have been very smart for the most part. Keeping the movement alive and in fact broadening its base without shedding more blood. Look at how the regime is tearing itself from the inside. The incompetency of Ahmadinejad and idocity of Khamenei will not continue without consequences.

Ali / August 20, 2010 10:43 PM


You refer to "From that Generation" as Dr. I can only interpret that as you referring to me. I am not that person. Another time you thought that I was an "Anonymous" who had responded to you. You should set aside your conspiracy mind.

If I want to respond to your comments, I would do so under my full name. After all, if I post articles under my own full name criticizing the entire foundations of the Islamic Republic, and if I give interviews to VOA and BBC on a steady basis that are seen and heard in Iran while every member of my family is still in Iran, who are you to be afraid of? You think I am afraid of responding to your hollow, emotion-filled, going-no-where, presenting no-viable-alternative comments? To the contrary, I find them not worth spending my time.

I have repeatedly asked you some basic questions, but you have never responded. What is the problem? Are you afraid of airing your "regime change at any cost" solution? You have never ever uttered one constructive word in your comments. Yes, we all know about all the crimes that have happened. The question is, WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION?

And, if I were you, I would take the advice of "From that Generation" very seriously. Believe me, one from that generation, humility is good!


If you wish to debate something with anyone here on TB, you must first and foremost be polite. TB is not your everyday website, like Iranian.com, in which anything, any language, and any tone of voice go. Freedom of expression and constructive criticism are not the same as insulting people, making baseless accusations, etc.

Now, regarding Mousavi: First of all, I said he can be criticized for several things. Secondly, I said that he has moral responsibility precisely because he was part of the power hierarchy (and I have repeated that in past articles). Third, I did not say that he has claimed that he did not know about the executions until now, rather that it appears that he was not aware of them when they were occurring.

You can claim that he knew - and if did, so be it; he would have to account for it - but you are not able to present even the most indirect evidence. Even the recent report of Judge Robertson said that there is no evidence that he had any role in them. Ayatollah Montazeri in his memoir never mentions him once regarding the executions. He says that even Khamenei did not know about them until they were way under way. Even a certified anti-IRI like Dr. Abbas Milani has said that he believes that Mousavi was not aware of what was going on at the time that they were.

People like me do not have brotherhood pact - Aghd-e okhovvat - with anyone. People like me support leaders so long as they have not committed any crime, and are truly trying to help a better Iran. Mousavi is no exception.

And, yes, I am a proud practicing Muslim and am fasting now; yes, I did support the Iranian Revolution, and yes, I still believe that it was a great and legitimate revolution that was hijacked by Islamic reactionaries, precisely because of the dark political vacuum that the Shah's dark dictatorship had created.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 20, 2010 10:48 PM


You keep parroting the same points over and over again and unable to comprehend the fact I am not asking for blind obedience or continuation of the Islamic republic. I said I agree with most of your point but you keep on singing the same old song, which only shows your immaturity, and you keep on using your imagination instead of actually reading what has been written down.

Have you ever taken a writing class in your lifetime? If so you would that when you put quotation marks around a sentence and attribute it to someone it means that you are “quoting” exactly what they said.

Unless you decide to actually read my posts and have something new to contribute instead of your juvenile generalizations I have nothing else to say to you.

Ali / August 20, 2010 10:58 PM

Regarding your reply, very interesting. I didn't know you are of the shoaar dozaari crowd, nice to know you. I have occasionally visited this website and have read a few comments only, but after reading your reply and chlidish spin to the topic all I have to say is, I misstoke you for a person who thinks rationally and is not blinded by ego-centrism..

You couldn't and didn't reply to my point and tried to divert what I brought up and you jumped in the diversion and safsateh land, and to sound very self-righteous you also accused me of being a pro-revolutionary leftist to boot, crystall ball madam.

Oh, I'm not Dr. Sahimi and I deliberately decided to use the name From that generation, and as it is very clear it dosen't matter what my real name is as it is irrelvant to the topic discussed.


From that generation / August 21, 2010 12:30 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

Calling people "Dr." is a joke amongst many Iranians now due to many so called doctors in Iran. Relax. If I wanted to address you I would have mentioned you by name. I have told you before, you are too jumpy.

As for hollow, well that is your opinion and I never asked for it in the above posting(s). I think I have made it abundantly clear that I find some of your proposals hollow too. But such is democracy and we are entitled to our opinions.

Where has your proposals taken us Dr. Sahimi? I have repeatedly mentioned REFERENDUM and you have repeatedly ignored it. Yes it is not easy to accomplish, but neither are your theories, are they now?

You are still one of my most favorite people. Try to relax.

Niloofar / August 21, 2010 12:45 AM

From that generation,

That is all? I am far too thick skinned for you.

I am not a Zionist, Monarchist, ......... ???

Sorry, but we are used to the likes of you. I will say what I have to say and with pride and emotions. I reserve that right as a woman.


Niloofar / August 21, 2010 12:55 AM

Doc. Sahimi: I have no idea what you are talking about! If you expect me to be more respectful of those who brought us here, then you are badly mistaken. Iran maybe a piece of land far away for you, but for some of us she was more sacred than Mecca and those who have had any role in its ruin deserve the utmost disrespect, let alone a harsh language. When a gang of thieves and murderer climb up your home, murder your relatives, and loot the house, then all those who played a role, from the one who only stood the watch, the one who only held the ladder, ..., to those who committed the murder and shared the spoils are guilty. And itt is my moral duty to be unforgiving towards each and everyone of them.

I do not know what role you played in the shameful revolution of 1979. Maybe you just had an opinion, then you are not to blame. But anyone who took any steps simply had no right to gamble with what did not belong to him (exclusively). The fact that it was a Shiite religious revolution made it illegitimate and treasonous to support. Some may have even been mere cheer-leaders of the gangster raid on the country which did not belong to them. The country belonged to future generations as well as the seculars, the Sunnis, and the non-moslims. You just do not get the seriousness of what the revolution has meant for generations to come, and how we ended up in an abyss that even you do not know how to climb out of and hang on to jerks like moosavi to maybe help you from sinking deeper into the abyss.

No doc. I do not want to be polite with those who robbed me of my home; that is all that I had, and now you have the guts to ask me to be respectful of murderers, thieves, holders of the climbing ladder, the watches, and the cheer-leaders? They all had various roles in creation of the monstrous khomeini, the role model of moosavi, without whom the monster in khomeini would not have been on the loose. You bet I am hurt and I deserve to be hurt. As is said nowadays "[your] boogyman snatched that b..." 31 years ago; it does not exist anymore.

As for your protege, moosavi; judge robertson does not say that he is not guilty. Judge has no authority to declare him guilty or not guilty; only a court of law can do so. Instead he uses the common legal language of 'prima facie' that he is a suspect until "proven" guilty (or not). If moosavi is a "man" worthy of leadership, he should first answer to these accusations which turns off maybe as much as half of iranian population; if possible inside iran, if not outside iran. After all he is the ONE who knows ALL about the period of his premiership. A simple trip abroad allows him to face his accusers and clarify his past if that is not possible inside iran. Then and only then he maybe worthy of ANY consideration.

As for being a "practicing Muslim and am fasting now". Doc., that is totally irrelevant to our discussion. I am not comparing you to anyone inside the islamic republic, but I assure you that there are torturers and prison guards that are also pious moslems (so they assume) and are fasting and praying on-time daily. The line between immorality and religiosity has long been faded (I am not talking about you here but in general). Another "b... that your revolutionary boogymen snatched" long time ago.

Doc., your ideas are out of date, 31 years out of date with little empathy towards the victims of your endeared revolution. I cannot change the fact that your ideology/religion is dominating your sense of morality and your pride overshadows any sense of guilt for what your generation brought upon iranians and impairs your judgment. You disliked the Shah? Fine, you had the choice of supporting likes of Bakhtiar (a most honorable man) to change the country (with or without the shah) if there were any sincerity in all sorts of bani-israelite complaints that you had with the Shah's regime, but you had NO RIGHT to stage a religious/leftist revolution; you simply did NOT have the moral right in a country of vast diversity marching towards 21st century. That mistake, costing so many lives, was immoral beyond any shadow of doubt.

Iran needs a (wo)man of uncompromising integrity, selflessness, and decisiveness to bring us out of what likes of you cooked up 31 years ago. Moosavi is not that man; rather he is a divisive figure, as you see from some passionate comments here, unless you want to have another disastrous reincarnation of revolution that moosavi is dreaming of. And if you know the iranian history of past 500 years, changes have only come when the religious fanatics have been beaten down harshly, and iran has marched towards disintegration anytime religious authorities took the upper hand. Suggesting moosavi (or karrubi or khatami or ...) as the solution to our dilemma is like prescribing a castor oil for someone with serious diarrhea
and high temperature.

Finally, not all of my frustration is really aimed at you, but at all those who have been with the regime, one way or the other, in the past 31 years, and the extent of what we lost (the homeland) gives (likes of) me every right to be so frustrated and disrespectful. One can make mistakes in his own life, and gamble with his own personal belongings, but CANNOT gamble with destiny of generations of a country. That is what your generation did, gambled with what did not belong to you and only because you did not like political freedom that shah did not allow.

hassan / August 21, 2010 1:28 AM


At least have the decency and courage to use your name. Your writing style and your generational accusations never leave you. Neither does your hatred for Mousavi. What a joke.

Ali / August 21, 2010 2:35 AM

ali you are an ignorant person.that is all i have to say about you.btw it does not take much brain to see hassan arashma and niloofar are not the same people.just pay attention to their style of writing and choice of spelling.but you have a one track mind.don't bother to respond i won't read it.

niloofar khahar harfeh dele ma ra mizani.we need more courageous women like you.

prof. sahimi hassan is right.your ideas are many years toooooooo old.most iranians don't care for anyone related to ir especially the founders.if i were you i would go back to the drawing board.

hassan you have your points but be polite.that is all.

pak don't bother with this guy.he ain't worth your time.

long live iran

mehrtash-bacheh shemroon / August 21, 2010 3:51 AM


I only have one response. Cheap shot. Anyone can pull such a low life stunt and most of all you. I was waiting for you. But this is what you people are all about. Do you honestly believe this cheap attempt on your part is going to stop me? Sorry, you just made me more determined than ever since I know now that I am hitting the right buttons. This is America Ali. You are a slave to your Islamist masters and their cheap stunts.


I am sure it is very easy for you to determine the source of these postings.

Niloofar / August 21, 2010 4:37 AM


Thanks for the reply.

Without a doubt his movements are monitored and constrained. But he doesn’t seem to be under house arrest given the fact that in recent months he’s addressed university professors and reformist students in person, visited relatives of political prisoners, and both visited and received Karroubi at his home. They both recently organized and conducted a videotaped press conference with several dozen domestic and international reporters. I sometimes wonder why the IR gives them this much leeway.

No, I don’t want Mousavi or anyone to advocate armed insurrection. That’s unnecessary and counter-productive, to say the least. But it’s important that we steer clear of a passive, inshallah-something-will-happen-soon approach, where we transfer agency for change from the Iranian people to the infighting of regime insiders in the hope that they’ll punch each other out and then we’ll swoop in and fill the vacuum. While the intra-regime cleavages have deepened since the election, I sometimes feel that their importance is overstated, and that much of it is stage managed by the regime itself to lull the people into the belief that they just have to sit back and the whole thing will crumble under its own weight.

I admire Mousavi for the grit and determination he showed immediately after the election. Without him, there would have been no movement. And he has continued to show defiance, and there were many positive elements in his Green Charter, although I think the passage in which he insists on the independence of religious institutions from the state is hardly a categorical endorsement of secularism as it is generally understood. Nevertheless, he does acknowledge the myriad voices and opinions in the movement, and encourages frank discussion between all these groups.

But he needs to take more initiative and formulate a bold course of action, or the current state of attrition will continue indefinitely and the cost of change will become bloodier as the regime and the IRGC mafia becomes even more entrenched, and people become more apathetic and channel their energy into escaping the country rather than transforming it.

What kind of bold action? I don’t know. Instead of being at each other’s throats, we need to address this question together.

Bozorg / August 21, 2010 4:38 AM

Ali: thanks for the response, and I agree with you're saying. But note the distinction - I never said to throw away Mousavi et al, or to eliminate from the movement anybody that thinks fondly of Khomeini. Quite the contrary, I think Mousavi is expedient at this point, and I think we absolutely need the Khomeinists in the movemenent - strength in numbers, especially when we are taking numbers away from the other side. I also share your history in having family in the Shah's government, though different to you I also had family in the religious circles (a great, great grandfather was a Marja). Thankfully, on the latter point, my great great grandfather disavowed the entire Islamic structure late in life, and vehemently passed that down through the generations. So I admit I am internally biased against Islam, based on family history and conditioning. But regardless, it's unreasonable to now take positions such as "get rid of Islam" and "Islam ruined our country" because it's too late - the position we need to take is to rid Islam of as much influence as possible in our legal system. The sooner we get rule of law and separation of church/state, the better. My question this whole time was whether Mousavi et al are capable of true separation of church/state - I still haven't seen enough to convince me so. And, while I don't know, I suspect there are thousands/millions with the same doubts.

Prof Sahimi: Thanks, and this is a point we have consistently agreed upon (that Mousavi etc. are useful right now, like them or not, and throwing them out right now is a death knell). I also understand that Mousavi can not be effectual if he comes out and actively disavows Khomeini and the IR. However, I am not advocating public disavowal, but rather toning down the praise. You can say a) he has to praise somewhat to maintain legitimacy, and b) he has recently praised less (I agree - I noticed), but that doesn't change the fact that it makes me and others uncomfortable. You can also imply that I (and the many that agree with me) just "don't understand the complexities of Iran", which is true if compared to you and many others, but I don't think that is fair as to this issue. I fully understand the complexities and subtleties when it comes to this issue, but that still doesn't change my doubts about Mousavi, Karoubi, anyone with a turban who seeks political power, Rafsanjani and his den of snakes, etc. I don't think that's an unreasonable position given history.

Comical Ali: I can't help you with what you don't understand. You are obviously incapable of understanding nuance in taking positions -- one reason might be that you don't take any positions yourself but instead only criticize. Keep cutting and pasting my posts, re-reading them, etc. and one day when you grow up and move out of your mother's basement you might get it. You clearly have no idea what my positions are, as you constantly misstate them, but trust me they are not that complicated - most other relatively intelligent people understand pretty quickly, in fact, even if they disagree. You're still at the "understand" part. Carry on kido.

np / August 21, 2010 5:05 AM


I was referring to:

"Grow up sir and set aside your islamist and revolutionary self-perfection side till you see the truth."

Aside from your own "self-perfection" that has enabled you to see the "truth," what does "grown up" mean?

Now, back to your response. Let's assume that everything that you say about me and Mousavi and what Iran needs is correct. So, the question is, what is your solution? Who is your hero that will come riding a white horse, or a Phantum jet, or an Abrams Tank to save Iran? Rejecting someone is easy. All you need to say is, "I don't like him." Presenting alternatives is not.


Referendum is not a solution, rather it is a possible destination. No ruling elite will freely hold a referendum to decide its own fate. Eventually, there may be a referendum, but there is a tortuous and tough path to get there. What people like me talk about is how to get there.

I have said many times: The difference between rejectionists like you and pragmatics like me is not in the final destination, which is the ideal of everybody. Rather, it is in the way that we want to arrive there.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 21, 2010 5:38 AM


I agree with you that the vast majority of us have the same end in mind, but disagree about the means to achieve that end.

In your opinion, what should the means be?

I feel that the movement and its leaders need to work with a greater sense of urgency.

The Basiji-fication of the nation is accelerating, the IRGC is thrusting its tentacles deeper into the economy, our universities are being purged of professors and subjects not amenable to the hardliners, rapes and torture are continuing unabated in the prisons, our national resources are being liquidated for far below market value, and the regime continues to engage in foreign brinkmanship that may rain unprecedented ruin on the country.

How do we confront a theo-military kleptocracy? Won’t we lose more blood if we choose to act later rather than sooner?

Bozorg / August 21, 2010 6:53 AM

Dear NP,

Some choice extracts from your post of Aug 21 @ 5:05 AM:

"... I never said to throw away Mousavi et al, or to eliminate from the movement anybody that thinks fondly of Khomeini. Quite the contrary, I think Mousavi is expedient at this point, and I think we absolutely need the Khomeinists in the movemenent [sic]"

"... Mousavi etc. are useful right now, like them or not, and throwing them out right now is a death knell."

" ... I also understand that Mousavi cannot be effectual is he comes out and actively disavoews Khomeini and the IR."

But juxtaposing these statements with one of your earlier comments on TehranBureau appears to indicate you have suffered a very hard fall off the proverbial donkey on the road to Damascus:

"Stop worshipping at the altar of these weak-willed hypocrites Mousavi/Karroubi/Khatami. They are not leaders, they are followers. ... These filthy b*st*rds all need to go - all of them. ... These morons are not democracts. They must all go."
(NP's harangue against Dr. Sahimi, Jan 5 @ 9:08 PM)

I know you utterly hate it when I dredge up your recent past, NP, but it does take more than one or two posts to build up a character profile, and you really do give new meaning to the phrase: "I never said ..."

And for one who lately endorses the expedient realpolitik of cultivating Mousavi, et al, a basic pointer from Machiavellian Politics 101: Don’t spew hatred, profanity and contempt for the useful idiot you are exploiting while you are still in need of him.

How's that for "nuance", my dyspeptic mini-Pahlavi groupie?

Ali from Tehran / August 21, 2010 9:42 AM


In Esfand 1353 (1975) the Shah banned all political parties, founded the quasi-fascist Rastakhiz Party, and announced that whoever does not like this, he/she can get his/her passport and leave Iran. At the same time, he was flushed with oil money that, due to the incompetence of his government, was wasted to a large degree, creating huge inflationary pressure. Exactly four years later he was gone.

We have an eerily similar situation now. All parties have essentially been banned. The system has become quasi-fascist. The government is flushed with oil money, but it is utterly incompetent, corrupt, boastful, and wasting the resources. Mesbah Yazdi also said a few years ago that if anybody does not like this, he/she should get his/her passport and leave. In my view the present situation will not last more than a few years either. The question is how to minimize the damage.

The Green movement must first spread further. Poor people, and people in small towns and villages have to set aside their illusion that this system supports them. Ethnic minorities should also join the movement in larger numbers. Once these are achieved, then the system will be like a ripe fruit that falls down. So, the civil struggle must continue for now.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 21, 2010 9:46 PM

Dear Professor Sahimi

First, thank you for your time and articles and the consideration of everyones comments here.
I consider it very impressive how you can find the time and patient to do so.

I have a question regarding your last comment.
Do you believe the international Community (US) will give the Green Movement more time if they take a clear position regarding the nuclear program? Do you think the leaders can position themselves opposed to get this time or would it cost them to many supporters?

Am I to unpatient?

Thank you for your consideration and best regards

Salome / August 21, 2010 10:43 PM


Thank you for your kind words.

I believe that it is imperative that the Green movement - i.e., its symbols and/or leaders - take a clear stand regarding Iran's nuclear program, and announce it publicly. In particular, it is imperative for the world to learn how the democratic movement would approach the nuclear program, and its differences with the present ruling elite.

The least benefit of this is that the West will have a clear view of what the democracy movement thinks of the nuclear program. Then, we will see how sincere and honest the West is regarding Iran's nuclear program on the one hand, and the democratic movement on the other hand.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 21, 2010 11:40 PM

Thank you, Professor Sahimi.

Do you know if people are actively trying to spread the movement through various networks, especially to the rural areas and ethnic minorities, as you mention? When I spoke with a friend who recently returned from Iran, s/he said that many people had taken a sit-and-wait approach. I find that worrying, and that's why I'm concerned about a very long, multi-year plan. I fear that people don't have the energy and determination to endure that long.

If and when a critical mass of people in the movement is reached, what do you think the Green leaders should do? Are they planning for it?

Thanks for your input.

Bozorg / August 22, 2010 1:47 AM

Thanks again Comical Ali - it's great to know I have a secretary who indexes and can instantly recall every one of my blog posts - who knew posting on a blog was akin to signing up with the Library of Congress, and who knew there were actually people with so little to do in life as you! But miraculously, I actually agree with you somewhat, though I think your comment in still misplaced.

First of all, yes, I said what you posted. Now, it's easy to look back and say that I could have used less inflammatory words (esp knowing disciples like you were keeping an index), but the underlying point holds. Let me show you how to take a position, something you are incapable of my dear Persian version of Siskel and Ebert: I do not think Mousavi et al are good leaders for Iran, and I think they are dirty with unclean hands (look it up, it's a term of art). So trade "filthy" for "unclean hands", and you get the point. But as usual you take my comments out of context, so let's try again: I distrust these guys, as many others do, and don't see them as the future leaders that Iran needs if it is going to advance and develop what it needs (mosque/state separation, rule of law), but I will take them for now, because they are useful. Not too hard to follow I hope. And you, what do you think?

The part I agree with you about is regarding not throwing out/trashing the useful idiots, as you call them, because they won't be so useful any longer. However, what I think you miss is that there is a difference between me (an anonymous nobody) trashing them, and actual political leaders and actors trashing them. So I guess you are giving me too much credit, which when coupled with the library of my posts that you have worked so hard to create, makes me think I may have an internet stalker on my hands. But out of curiosity, what would you suggest that ordinary people who distrust Mousavi et al do? Simply swallow their tongues out of expediency, actively parrot Mousavi's love for Mr. Khomeini, other?

On the flip side, while I do not think it would be useful for experts like Prof Sahimi to completely discredit and trash Mousavi et al, I would think he and others like him would gain credibility with a substantial number of people if they appeared more objective about these guys and did not over-sanctify them. But maybe that's too hard to pull off, I don't know, I'm not in their shoes. What I am sure about - and which I have not heard you or anyone credibly deny - is that I am not alone. There are a substantial number of people who think as I do, and it sure would be nice to hear some plain-speaking once in a while. It is hard for people to agree with the notion that Mousavi is completely clean because he did not technically give the order to mass murder, even though he fully supported the government that did and still to this day praises the fanatic who did give the order (can you imagine a former high-ranking Nazi running for office in Germany, claiming innocence in that he didn't actually give the order to gas, but then still pledging his eternal love for Hitler, and being called a Democrat?!)

Then again, maybe you are still so obsessed with your unresolved Shah-hatred that you are incapable of exploring this disconnect because you are someone who still believes in Mr. Khomeini and his ideals, still believes you can salvage the Revolution, still believes if you get just one more shot you can correct the ills of the last 30 years, and that there is still hope for an Islamic "Republic" comprised of turbaned leaders who are deathly afraid of neckties and who pledge loyalty and fealty to a mass-murdering religious fanatic. I don't know, because as we all know, all you do is critique. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the first time that you actually take a position on all these matters (but more probably your retort will be another rude objection, full of Wikipedia-generated facts and Rogets-supplied polysyllabic words).

np / August 23, 2010 3:00 AM


Yes, indeed. Based on what I know, a lot of efforts are going on. I recently spoke to a representative of teachers union in Iran and he told me that below a thin surface lots of things are going on. My extensive network of contacts in Iran say the same. There is no question that some people are disappointed; some may have even given up, and some are desperate, but almost everybody recognizes that this is a long struggle and a war of not only ideas but also attrition.


It seems to me that you think that the only way people like me can get credibility with "a substantial number of people" is by attacking Mousavi et al. I have no qualm about criticizing anybody (including my own acts), if I feel that it is warranted and does some good. But, as I see it, my main tasks are, (1) give younger people awareness about what has really happened over the last 6 decades, including after the 1979 Revolution; (2) make them aware of Iran's rights regarding the nuclear program in the framework of international agreements, and (3) advocate what I believe in, namely, a peaceful struggle for making a better Iran that is at peace with the rest of the world. Now, if that entails criticizing Mousavi et al., and even rejecting them if that is warranted, so be it.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 23, 2010 8:39 AM

Dear NP (Aug 23 @ 3:00 AM),

I'm glad my archival research has led you to some sorely-needed introspection.

Most likely, your reflexive, angry sarcasm is the necessary concomitant of this painful process of self-appraisal and reform, in which case I will gladly act as a sink for your visceral discharge.

Your sappy reductio-ad-Hitlerum and 'necktie-vs-turban' arguments do worry me because they portend a relapse. But, on the other hand, you have managed to get through this entire thread without resorting to ugly profanity. Elsewhere on TehranBureau, as far back as I can recall, your posts frequently contained some gratuitous allusion to rectal abuse: “sodomistic”, “pedophilic”, “boy toy”, “butt”, etc.

Lastly, don't presume that fellow posters who use words outside your mastered lexicon, or who reference facts beyond your comfort zone, are furtively availing themselves of Roget's Thesaurus and Wikipaedia to gain unfair advantage over your natural talent. It betrays feelings of insecurity and envy most unbecoming of a well-rounded adult.

Ali from Tehran / August 23, 2010 11:40 AM

Ali - as expected, nothing new from you. Didn't answer a question, didn't take a position. Try again.

np / August 24, 2010 3:56 AM

Doc. Sahimi: I am not sure if you will come back to see this or not, as I got busy and could not respond earlier.

You raised two issues: (1) Why did I say "grow up", and (2) If not moosavi, then what should we do. These issues are complex and I only respond to item (1) to clarify and leave item (2) for a later comment either here or on a future blog if I see any interest.

Doc., Everything and anything about the revolution of 1979 was wrong. It "looked" wrong before the revolution and "proved" to be wrong starting on the 2nd day of revolution when executions of "mofsed-fel-arzes" began and have continued to this day. A perfect proof of the proverb "a good year starts with a good spring" (sali keh nekoost az baharash paydaast).

Now those who are running the country obviously are the ones who have achieved their objectives. Then there is a second group (like you, and various shades of reformists: ganji, kadivar, ...) who get that this system has miserably failed but want to re-invent the correct revolution. Your logical brain understands the miserable failure of the revolution, but your emotional brain cannot accept that and wants to re-incarnate the revolution, this time correctly.

Albert Einstein once said: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Doc., You are imprisoned in this emotional cocoon of your glorious revolution and need to "grow up" out of it. Please read the constitution of IRI to see that Vali-Faghih (as he re-stressed it a couple of weeks ago) "OWNS" people's flesh and blood, and thus most (if not all) of what we have seen in the past 31 years have been lawful. Velayate Motlagheh has the lawful right to break any laws, any jaws, any belongings, anything, and (as Mesbah Yazdi (?) said recently) he can even suspend "Toheed" (the base of islam: one god). He has the right to perform rape, sodomy, torture, and murder of prisoners (Mesbah Yazdi (?) almost said that in DW interview a couple of months ago if I am not mistaken). This house is rotten at its base, redecoration of its walls will not change anything.

So you need to think outside the box of the islamic republic, as well as placing the history of iran (specially the last 500 years) in perspective that Mullas have never been friends of iran or Iranians; their influence on the government has only meant legalized massive murder and excessive thievery.

Doc, when you are cornered, facing a vicious snake, you can neither talk it out of biting you, nor can you caress or fondle it, nor capture it by its tail. You should go for the head and the eyes, or else it'll manage to bite you back. Moosavi is the tail of the snake; at best he can provide a temporary relief (even if we forget his atrocious past) till the snake can gather strength, turn around, and bite you back, as khomeini did with all his supporters group-by-group once he was established.

hassan / August 24, 2010 9:31 AM

Prof Sahimi - first off, you're doing just fine achieving those goals, which is why we all keep reading. Also, let me clarify - I didn't say that if you don't criticize Mousavi you won't be credible to a substantial number of people - you already are, regardless of any criticism you do or don't levy at him. I meant you'd gain additional credibility with a substantial number of other people, and it's not just for knee jerk and baseless criticism of course, but for actual accountability. To achieve your ultimate goal (free unified democratic Iran) I think people like you with outsized voices need to bridge some gaps that are dividing our people. One of which is certain people's inability to sanctify someone who pledges loyalty and support for a mass murdering religious fanatic. So while I concede it is not easy for someone in your position to criticize Mousavi without totally delegitimizing him, it would also be nice if you could address certain big picture challenges and disconnects, which I referenced by example - namely, while Mousavi may not have technically given the order to mass murder (a point you rely on consistently to absolve him), he was still a major part of that gov't, and still professes love and support for the person who did give the order, and still pledges support for an "Islamic Republic" that allowed for the order. I would love to hear how you distinguish this from my reformed Nazi example above.

np / August 25, 2010 3:57 AM


Thank you for responding. I have always said I supported the Revolution for what I thought it would achieve, not what has happened. I did not support it because I thought it would bring us the present system, but because I thought it would bring us a democratic political system.

Now, before moving to respond to the next comment, let me emphasize this: One must distinguish between a revolution and its original goals, and its aftermath and hijacking it by the reactionaries. Supporting the revolution does not imply supporting its aftermath. Conversely, rejecting the revolution's aftermath does not imply rejecting its legitimacy and its original goal.

If by growing out of the box you mean I should reject the revolution and its goal, I will not, because the revolution was legitimate. But, if you mean its aftermath, I have - did so long ago. In my opinion, the revolution was halted and did not achieve its original goals, which is why I am part of this struggle.


Agree with some of the things you say; must think about the rest. We will take it up in another thread.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 30, 2010 1:54 AM