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Grand Ayatollah on the Deteriorating State of Affairs in Iran

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI (translator)

02 Oct 2011 01:20Comments
assemblymember.jpg'It is strange that protecting Islam has been reduced to protecting one man.'

[ religion ] Grand Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib has written two critical letters to Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a governmental body that oversees the performance of the Supreme Leader and has the power in theory to remove from his position. Dastgheib, a popular cleric and supporter of the Green Movement, represents the people of Fars province in the assembly. In the letters, he severely criticizes Mahdavi Kani, members of the assembly, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Dastgheib has not participated in the assembly's meetings since the postelection crackdown in 2009. After his vocal opposition to the violence, his home, students, mosque, and seminary were attacked by mobs supported by security forces.

In the first letter, sent on August 26, Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib states that he no longer participates in the assembly because he is concerned about his safety. He publicizes his views, he said, through statements issued to the people.

He goes on to say,

You [Mahdavi Kani] have been elected as a mojtahed [Islamic scholar who can issue religious edicts] and chairman of the Assembly of Experts [which consists of 86 mojtaheds]. It is your duty to investigate what is going on in the country and [ensure] it is compatible with Islamic teachings, particularly when in the holy fasting month of Ramadan [when the first letter was written] you invite people to [believe in] God, the Prophets, and the [12] Imams...

Your Excellency Mahdavi Kani, do you believe that what has been happening in the country, particularly over the past two years, is compatible with [the teachings of] the Qur'an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad? History testifies that during the lifetime of the Assembly of Experts many violations of our religion have taken place [at the hands of officials], but not only has the Assembly not responded, it has supported it. If someone wants to speak the truth [about what has been happening] rationally and wisely, he will be faced with all kinds of accusations, of which you are very well aware.

Your Excellency Mahdavi Kani, you witnessed what happened in the ninth presidential election [of June 2005] and the formation of a group [Ahmadinejad and his supporters] supported by the Assembly and the Majles, with the Guardian Council at the helm. You are very well aware that a decision had been made to eliminate [from the political system] those who were and still are linked to the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini]. What happened was not a pretense to be pious.... Keep God in mind, for there will be a Judgment Day and we must account [for what we have done]. You are an influential person and cannot claim that you cannot do anything.

Be fair and [recall] what was done to Mr. [Akbar] Hashemi Rafsanjani when he was a presidential candidate, which was in fact [essentially] done to the Imam. Who tried to destroy Mr. Hashemi? It was no one other than Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps], the Basij [militia], and the security forces. His [Rafsanjani's] destruction was the destruction of the clerics. How can one rationalize and justify this? Should we invoke Article 110 [of the Constitution, which gives absolute power to the Supreme Leader] in order to expel a competitor from the scene [a reference to Khamenei's support for Ahmadinejad]? If you claim that this is not true, then allow Mr. Hashemi to [freely] describe what happened.... If this had been investigated when it happened, [do you think that] the events of the past two years would have taken place? Do you not have any responsibility toward the presidential debates of [Mir Hossein] Mousavi and [Mehdi] Karroubi [with Ahmadinejad] and the accusations that were made [by Ahmadinejad] against Mr. Hashemi and [former Majles Speaker] Mr. [Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri]? Is it not true that if Islam's credibility is destroyed and a pious man's credibility is also destroyed, and the Assembly of Experts legitimizes it, [that the assembly's members] are no longer mojtaheds?

Is the engineered tenth presidential election of 2009 not the same as the engineered elections of 2005? Perhaps one might argue that they [Mousavi and Karroubi] do not believe in Article 110. It might be argued that [the Supreme Leader, to whom] Article 110 [applies] does not have to obey the Constitution [since his power is absolute]. [Even if that is true,] when someone is approved by the Guardian Council [for the elections], why should national resources be used to try to destroy that person, to drive out the competitor, and violate all the laws?

Is it right for the Assembly to reject all the criticism as baseless, and without regard for its own mandate, which is protecting the Constitution, in order to try to destroy people [Mousavi and Karroubi] and just to praise another man [Khamenei]? Are they [Assembly members] representatives of the people, or obedient to the Guardian Council?

Do you support the events of 2009 and their aftermath? Are the people who are identified with [the so-called] "sedition" [the Green Movement] not Shiites of Imam Ali?... Were the aspirations and demands of the people satisfied? Should the votes of the people not be protected and [correctly] counted? Why could they not convince the people [that there was no fraud] and [why were they] put down by Sepah and other military organs. And why has no one taken responsibility [for what happened]?

Your Excellency Mahdavi Kani, given these [issues], do you still support the current state of affairs? Do the members of the Assembly of Experts support it? Are these people [Mousavi and Karroubi] foreigners or linked to foreigners? Is His Excellency [Grand] Ayatollah [Hossein] Vahid Khorasani [who has strongly criticized the hardliners] a foreigner? Are other critical grand ayatollahs all linked with foreigners?

Should I, who have only spoken the truth, in meetings, gatherings, and in statements, be verbally assaulted and [physically] attacked? Is the response to [speaking] the truth attacks on my home in which my wife and children live, and attacks on my seminary, the Ghoba mosque [in Shiraz, run by Dastgheib's supporters], and my seminary students, particularly [attacks by] the commanders of Sepah and representatives of Article 110 [Khamenei]? Most strangely, when officials are called upon, and the judiciary is told that the mosque and my home have been attacked, instead of investigating them, the pious people are accused and asked, "Why did you defend? Why did you resist?" [They imply] no organ can investigate the incidents, [because] they were carried out by Sepah and the Basij.

After recounting the ways in which the Guardian Council has failed to carry out its duties, Dastgheib asks,

Your Excellency Mahdavi Kani, what offense have the political prisoners committed? Why are they not given fair trials? Why are they deprived of even their most basic rights? Is opposition to a [single] person [Khamenei] tantamount to opposing the holy Qur'an and the Prophet? If this continues and no changes are made, [if] the political prisoners are not freed, the press is not allowed its freedom, and [the democratic articles of] the Constitution are not implemented, the only conclusion will be that members of the Assembly of Experts put their seal of approval on anti-religious and illegal acts, [in effect] surrendering their power.

In his second letter, sent to Mahdavi Kani on September 7, Dastgheib asks the assembly leader the same types of questions,

What offenses have Messrs. Hashemi, [Mohammad] Khatami, Mousavi, and Karroubi committed? Is refusing to defend violations of laws and religion an offense? You know very well that [it was] Mr. Hashemi [who] introduced the Leader [to the society and Khomeini] and has defended him; but he must also warn about the threats.

Mr. Khatami, with all that popularity during his presidency and his discovery of so many illegal and anti-religious acts, brought credibility to the state.

Mr. Karroubi did not allow the Majles to lose its power or lose its position at the helm of affairs [a reference to a famous statement of Khomeini's] and courageously warned against illegal and anti-religious acts.

Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is known as the Imam's prime minister, did nothing but follow the law and protect the national resources. They claim that he has changed and [now] wants to topple the system and eliminate the Leadership. They say there is much evidence [to support the claim]. Well, wisdom, religion, and tradition tell us that the evidence must be presented in his presence [so that] he can speak the truth [in his own defense].

It is strange that protecting Islam has been reduced to protecting one man [Khamenei] who, [as] if he is not protected, Islam will be destroyed, and [as] if he is the Leader, Islam will remain intact, even if nothing is left of the Islamic teachings, even if people lose their faith, and have doubts about their beliefs, and want to return to the past.

Your Excellency Mahdavi Kani, I suggest that, for the sake of the satisfaction of God and preservation of independence, freedom, and the Islamic Republic, you form a group consisting of trustworthy people who are accepted by both sides to investigate violations of the laws and anti-religious acts. [Try to] obtain the consent of the [critical] grand ayatollahs, restore their credibility [which has deteriorated], and investigate under what legal, religious, or secular excuses Sepah and the security forces intervene in all aspects of people's lives, and why the offices, homes, and seminaries [of the critical clerics] are being watched all the time, and why in addition to the government and the universities, they [the security forces] control mosques and places of religious gatherings.

I hope that you receive this letter and do your legal and religious duty.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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