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Entries in Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari (2)


The Latest from Iran (16 February): Un-Diplomatic Declarations

1955 GMT: The lawyer for 21-year-old Amir Reza Arefi says his client has been sentenced to death for "mohareb" (war against God). Arefi was arrested in April 2009, before the June election.

1945 GMT: Keeping Rafsanjani in His Box. An EA correspondent puts together an important story: with the 7th general assembly of the Assembly of Experts due next week, probably on Tuesday and Wednesday, new attacks have been launched upon Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the Assembly.

A statement from a number of clerics at Qom declares that, due to the performance of Hashemi Rafsanjani in the past few months, he is not suitable to continue in his post. And Fars News, criticising Rafsanjani's son Mehdi Hashemi for not returning to Iran after five months abroad, asserts that his settling in London is "strange and suspicious".

NEW Iran Special: Live-Blogging Ahmadinejad Press Conference (16 February)
NEW Iran: Why The Beating of Mehdi Karroubi’s Son Matters
NEW Iran Document: The 10-Demand Declaration of 4 Labour Unions
NEW Iran Document: Shadi Sadr at the UN on Abuse, Justice, and Rights (12 February)
Latest Iran Video: US Analysis (Gary Sick) v. Overreaction (Stephens, Haass)
Iran: The IHRDC Report on Violence and Suppression of Dissent
Iran: Human Rights Watch Report on Post-Election Abuses (11 February)
The Latest from Iran (15 February): Withstanding Abuse

1715 GMT: The Karroubi Wave. It appears that the Karroubi family --- not just Mehdi Karroubi, but the family --- are ready to propel the next wave of opposition to the Government and regime. In addition to Fatemeh Karroubi's interview (1600 GMT), Mehdi Karroubi's son Hossein has spoken out to Radio Zamaneh.

Hossein Karroubi says that his brother Ali was detained, while in the Karroubi entourage on 22 Bahman, by police and then handed to plainsclothesmen, who took him to the Amir-ol-momenin Mosque, mentioned in the letter written by his mother Fatemeh to the Supreme Leader. (The reason why Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi could make his statement that he did not issue an arrest warrant for Ali Karroubi, implying the entire story has been fabricated, is because there was none; Ali Karroubi was simply taken away.)

After his beating, Ali Karroubi was asked by police to sign a declaration that he was not abused in detention. He replied, "How can I sign such a declaration when my skull in fractured and my body is bruised?" So he wask asked to sign that he was not beaten by the police.

Hossein Karroubi says there will be no complaint lodged with the Judiciary as it no longer has power to deal with these matter; not does the Tehran Prosecutor General have any authority, or the courage, to deal with the “lebas shakhsis" (plainclothes operatives) who are operating with complete impunity.

And here's the stinger in Hossein Karroubi's tale: he argues that the plainclothes forces are supported from "very high up" (presumably meaning Ayatollah Khamenei or his office). This is why his mother wrote to the Supreme Leader, because --- as with the Kahrizak Prison scandal --- it is only he who could order a proper investigation into such matters.

More on this in an analysis on Wednesday....

1645 GMT: Releases for the Martyrs? Rahe-Sabz writes that the children of martyrs, such as Ali Motahhari (the son of Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari), have demanded release of political activists at a meeting with Iran's head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani. The report claims that Larijani declared there will be several releases, on low bail, to come.

1640 GMT: The Detention Centres of 22 Bahman. Peyke Iran reports that a former textile company near Azadi Square was used as a holding area for detainees last Thursday, keeping 20 women and 50 men before they were transported to Evin Prison. Amir-ol-momenin Mosque -- significantly the claimed location of the beating of Ali Karroubi --- was also used on 22 Bahman.

1635 GMT: The Economic Challenge. Another piece of evidence to support the pressing questions that Ahmadinejad weakly fielded at today's press conference (see 1455 GMT). The Iranian Labor News Agency says that the denial of industry minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian --- difficulties in the economy will be overcome --- will make no difference to the hardships of companies who are dying faster than they can be created: "Officials should take care today, tomorrow it will be much too late."

1625 GMT: Author and film critic Ardavan Tarakameh has been released on $30,000 bail after 50 days in detention. Mohammad Moin, the son of former Presidential candidate Mostafa Moin, has also been released on bail.

In contrast, economics professor and Mir Hossein Mousavi advisor Ali Arabmazar has not been charged after 50 days in prison.

1620 GMT: Sequel to "A Strange Shooting" (see 1235 GMT). Tabnak reports that the shooting around the car of Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the former Speaker of Parliament, happened when security forces mistook the vehicle for one used by drug smugglers. When it failed to stop they fired warning shots in the air.

1615 GMT: Diversions. Follow-up on the Ahmadinejad press conference --- Reuters has now decided that the story is the President's hope that the case of the three arrested US citizens, detained while walking in northern Iran, may soon be resolved.

1600 GMT: The Karroubi Challenge. Following up on Mr Verde's analysis of the significance of the beating of Mehdi Karroubi's son Ali....

Fatemeh Karroubi, wife of Mehdi and mother of Ali, has told Rooz Online has spoken about the incident while declaring, “[We] will not under any circumstances back down on the rights of the Iranian people....The letter that I published a few days ago was not only for my own child, but for the children who are in prison. I wrote it with the hope that these things wouldn’t occur again.”

She recalled, “On the night that my [detained] son returned home, I was in shock and could not believe that they could say to Ali: ‘You were lucky, if you had stayed here for a couple more hours, instead of you we would be handing your corpse over [to your family].” Ali Karroubi had been forced to sign a statement saying that he would not give any interviews following his release.

Asked about the possibility of negotiating a settlement with the Government, Fatemeh Karroubi replied:
In my opinion, the interests of the country and demands and rights of the people are very important. This is not at all personal. Such a thing [a settlement] is not in any way possible....

I am stressed. But my concern and stress is neither for my husband nor for my children, but for the country, the revolution and the people of my country. Let me say this clearly, the more pressure there is, the more determined my family and I will be.

1455 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Two-Hour Stumble. The "Western" media is already reducing the President's press conference to the line-item of Tehran's defiance of the West: "Iran says it would respond to any new sanctions" (Reuters); "Iran says the world "will regret" sanctions" (BBC); "Iranian president warns against tougher sanctions" (CNN).

That's a shame, because the nuclear issue was about the only one on which Ahmadinejad was secure during his lengthy appearance. Indeed, the Government's strategy continues to be to use the negotiations with the West to show both strength and legitimacy; thus Press TV walks hand-in-hand with their Western counterparts, "Iran warns powers will 'regret' sanctions response".

The big story should be Ahmadinejad's internal difficulties. He came out fighting over the challenge to his right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, but he floundered badly on the economic issues. It is significant that the majority of questions from Iran's journalists, as opposed to foreign correspondents, were on the economy, and Ahmadinejad was close to incapable of handling challenges over Iran's economic growth, investment plans, unemployment and inflation figures, and even his budget. He was caught out at times by a lack of basic information, and at one point he simply made up a statistic for Iran's Gross Domestic Product.

Nor did Ahmadinejad, perhaps surprisingly, get away on post-election problems, despite his attempt to parade "tens of millions" of Iranians who supported him on 11 February. He evaded, weakly, a couple of questions about detentions before lamenting, "Of course we are sorry" that anyone has been arrested. Time and time again, he fell back on denunciations of the "ugly face" of the US, the regional intrigues of Western powers, and proclamations of their weakness vs. Iran's strength.

We'll watch for reactions but, for all Ahmadinejad's bluster and stamina, this does not look like the post-22 Bahman stamp of authority he was seeking.

1450 GMT: We have moved the live-blog of the Ahmadinejad press conference to a separate entry. A snap analysis follows in a few minutes.

1300 GMT: Journalist Sam Mahmoudi Sarabi has been released on $300,000 bail after 44 days in detention, 30 of which were in solitary confinement.

1235 GMT: A Strange "Shooting". We break from Mahmoud and the Prophets for an unusual story. Iranian media is reporting that shots were fired at a car carrying Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, former Speaker of Parliament, as it was travelling to Shiraz. Some official accounts say the shots were fired by mistake by the police, but the "conservative" Jahan News thinks there might have been foul play.

1210 GMT: On the Economic Front. Yesterday we noted the extensive comments of Mohammad Parsa of Iran's electricity syndicate on the difficulties in the industry, with 900,000 workers on the verge of dismissal and a Government debt of 5 billion toman ($5.06 million) to the electricity providers. Aftab News now also carries the interview.

1200 GMT: No White Smoke Update. At his press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki limited his remarks on uranium enrichment talks to the general statement, "We have informed our Turkish friends about the latest developments on Iran's peaceful nuclear case. While we are continuing our (nuclear) activities we will consider any new idea or proposal, either given directly or indirectly via the agency (International Atomic Energy Agency)." Mottaki also downplayed Turkey's role, saying Ankara was "not a mediator but a major part in constant consultations for restoring peace and calm in the region".

So, while we cannot know if there were advances in the private Mottaki-Davutoglu talks, Tehran's public position is to stretch out the negotiations. Another sign of the low-key Iran approach is that Press TV's website still has no reference to the nuclear issue from this morning's conference.

1030 GMT: No White Smoke. Press TV's broadcast summary of the press conference of Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, makes no reference to uranium enrichment. There are only general platitudes about the two countries being "keys to regional stability" and the encouragement of bilateral trade relations.

0855 GMT: Mr Verde checks in with an analysis of the significance of the alleged beating of Mehdi Karroubi's son Ali.

0845 GMT: No, You're the Dictatorship. If we must continue with this story....

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has responded to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's claim that Iran is moving towards "military dictatorship" (see 0710 GMT): "They themselves are involved in a sort of military dictatorship and have practically ignored the realities and the truths in the region. America has a wrong attitude toward the issues in the Middle East and it is the continuation of their past wrong policies."

0755 GMT: A Moving Campaign. Iranian-American Youth (IAY) and Justice Through Music (JTM) will be carrying out a mobile billboard advertising campaign in Washington, D.C. today. Messages on the billboards will try to raise awareness of the internal situation and foster support for the opposition movement.

0740 GMT: Wayward Analysis. Yesterday's un-diplomatic declarations are accompanied by the superficial analysis of The New York Times this morning, "US Encounters Limits of Iran Engagement Policy". This piece builds from this episode:
Gen. James L. Jones, President Obama’s national security adviser, and Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, were in the same place at the same time, attending a high-level security conference in Munich with a number of high-ranking officials from around the world. And yet the two made no plans to meet with each other.

This is a very large herring because US-Iranian discussions would not take place between these senior advisors. (Mottaki's visit to Munich was made at the last minute and primarily so he could indicate that Iran might be open to a "swap" of uranium outside the country.) Instead, as in Geneva last autumn, talks would be held formally between the officials handling the nuclear brief or, behind the scales, between lower-level members of the diplomatic staff. The article has no recognition, for example, that quiet chats probably continue over areas of common interest such as Iraq and Afghanistan. And it never considers third-party brokers such as Turkey.

Put bluntly, The Times complements posturing such as Hillary Clinton's declaration by operating under the erroneous assumption that contacts between the US and Iran have been suspended.

0730 GMT: Top Journalism Award for Neda's Filmers. A George Polk Award, one of the top prizes in US journalism, has been given to the unnamed people who filmed the death of Neda Agha Soltan, the 26-year-old woman who died from a Basij gunshot during the 20 June demonstrations. The panel declared, "This award celebrates the fact that, in today's world, a brave bystander with a cell phone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news."

0725 GMT: Pressing for Rights. We have posted the text of human rights lawyer Shadi Sadr's address to the United Nations last Friday: "In addition to the numerous examples of human rights that are systematically violated...during the post-election events, basic and fundamental human rights remain in serious peril, such as equality of persons before the law, the right to peaceful assembly, the rights of political prisoners, and the rights of human rights defenders and civil society activists."

0710 GMT: With few public moves in Iran over the post-election conflict on Monday, most attention was on diplomatic diversions outside the country. Foremost amongst these was Hillary Clinton's apparently impromptu remark, at a Town Hall meeting in Qatar, that Iran was becoming a "military dictatorship".

Clinton's remark is less significant as an analysis of developments in Tehran than as a possible pointer of a shift in Washington's policy. However, if you go below the surface, there are only questions. With Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Iran today in an attempt to broker a deal on uranium enrichment (and he is unlikely to be there without the endorsement of Washington), Clinton's comment appears to be either a dissonant line or a rather clumsy attempt to warn the Iranians into accepting the bargain as well as justifying sanctions against the Republican Guard if the uranium deal is not agreed.

And there was more muddle in Tel Aviv, where the top US military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, was discussing regional matters with Israeli counterparts and ministers. His refusal to rule out any option, while at the same time warning clearly of adverse consequences if there was an airstrike on Iran, meant that his statement could be seized by both proponents and opponents of military action. (Behind the public posture, I am almost certain that Washington has again warned Israel off any operations, but there is the possibility that the US is offering the clause, "In the future, however....")

If there was a notable setpiece on the international front on Monday, it came in Geneva, where the US, Britain, and France led the effort at the UN Human Rights Council to castigate Iran's post-election abuses. Of course, Tehran responded --- through Iranian High Council for Human Rights SecretaryGeneral Mohammad Javad Larijani --- that all was well and Iran was advancing social rights for groups like women and children. The episode indicated, however, that Washington and its allies will match any "engagement" with public pressure, and not only on the nuclear issue.

Inside Iran, the more important tension was over President Ahmadinejad's economic plans. The high-profile political challenge of the "conservatives" was complemented by a series of statements from members of Parliament criticising part or all of the Ahmadinejad budget. No signs yet that the conservatives will return to their more dramatic confrontation over the post-elections abuses, calling for the head of Ahmadinejad aide Saeed Mortazavi, but it is evident that the President's 22 Bahman performance has not quelled opposition.

Outside the establishment, Monday was notable for signs of labour activism. While a report of planned civil disobedience by the Tehran Bus Workers Union turned out to be untrue, the union joined three others in putting forth a public statement of ten demands (see separate entry).

Iran Special: Full Text of Mousavi Declaration for 22 Bahman (2 February)

Translated by Khordaad 88 and posted on the Facebook page supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi. The Facebook page also has the Persian original of the answers to 10 questions put by Kalemeh:

Q: We are approaching the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. How can the recollection and commemoration of those days benefit us today?

MOUSAVI: First and foremost, I want to congratulate all of our people on the 31st anniversary of our [victory in the] Revolution, particularly the families of our martyrs, our [war] veterans and prisoners of war [with Iraq].

Iran Snap Analysis: “Game-Changers” from Mousavi and Ahmadinejad
Iran Document: The Rallying Call of Mousavi’s 14 Points (2 February)
The Latest From Iran (3 February): Picking Up the Pace

Analyzing the Islamic revolution has not come to an end yet. There have been thousands of books and articles written about it and many still to come. It is interesting that the recent elections and the events following it have brought forth new critiques of the Revolution.

Some of these analyses mainly focus on the similarities between [these events[, some explore the similarities as well as the differences, and others seek the roots of the Green Movement in the Islamic Revolution. In any case, these critiques are very beneficial, particularly for the younger generation who are the main moving force of the Green Movement.

There were many factors that converged in bringing together our people, particularly the marginalized [people], under the brilliant leadership of Imam Khomeini, and led to the [victory of the] Revolution. There is much to say about this, but what I think is particularly relevant to our current situation and would like to mention now, at the beginning of this interview, is that in the 1979 Revolution, all of our people had united and were present in shaping the Revolution. This unity was so strong that it even took over the military bases. The historic picture of the officers of the air force saluting Imam Khomeini on the 8th of February is important in documenting this.

In the days leading to the revolution we didn’t have two groups, a majority and a minority, in the streets. Because the unpopular and dictatorial regime of the Shah had completely lost the roots of its legitimacy , it had no base left, even among the military forces. In those days even specific political groups with very distinct positions lost their differences and, some even reluctantly, joined the masses of millions in asking for “independence, liberty, Islamic Republic”.

Q. Can we say that the fall of the Pahlavi regime was inevitable?

MOUSAVI: The regime had completely lost its legitimacy. Of course, the [regime’s forces] killing civilians on the streets had a lot to do with this. The murders of 17 Shahrivard [8 September 1978] were a defining moment. If we look back, we see that if the Pahlavi regime had not betrayed the achievements of the Constitutional Revolution [which saw the establishment of Parliament], the monarchy would have survived and continued to rule with the role that the Constitution had carved out for it, and with the backing of the people’s vote.

From the beginning, many warnings were given to the Pahlavis regarding [their disregard for the Constitution], and someone like the late [Ayatollah] Modarres sacrificed his life for this goal. But all these warnings and reminders were useless, and within a few years of the Constitutional Revolution, despotic governance had taken over once more, although this time with a modern façade. The relatively long rule of the Pahlavis shows that during the Constitutional Revolution, the roots of despotism were not completely destroyed. And these roots continued to live on, within cultural, social and political structures.

I remember that in those years, one picture which the Shah constantly used to promote himself was a photo of a farmer kissing the Shah’s feet. In his view, this demonstrated the deep love that the people had for him. But of course, wise men saw much more in that photo.

Q. Would you say that the elements which, according to you, reinforce despotic regimes were eliminated with the Islamic Revolution?

MOUSAVI: In the first years of the revolution, people were convinced that it had completely destroyed all of those structures through which despotism and dictatorship could be reinforced. And I was one of the people who believed this. But today, I no longer do.

Today we can identify those very structures which have lead to despotism [in the past]. We can also identify the resistance people have shown against a return to dictatorship. This is the invaluable inheritance of the Islamic Revolution, clearly demonstrated today with the people’s intolerance for deception, lies and corruption. Similarly, the tight control of newspapers and media, the overflowing prisons, and the brutal killing of innocent people who are peacefully requesting their rights all reveal the lingering roots of despotism.

The people are after justice and freedom. Moreover, they are aware that the arrests and executions are politically motivated and unconstitutional. They despise the monarchy but are also aware that people may be condemned to death based on frivolous accusations and without even being subject to a legal trial. [The people know that these executions are only carried out] so that a brutal, ruthless leader of Friday Prayers [Ayatollah Jannati], one who has constantly defended corruption, violence and deception, can applaud them. It matters not to him that there are abundant forced confessions, and he doesn’t care that [those executed] have had nothing to do with the election. For him, what matters is the power of the executions to generate fear. He is ignorant of the power of innocent blood. He doesn’t know that it was the blood of martyrs that caused the Pahlavi regime to collapse.

From the revolution onwards, people have believed in freedom, independence and the Islamic Republic. The courageous resistance and the strength of our people and our soldiers during the eight-year war [with Iraq, 1980-1988] was a sign of the fundamental changes that had taken place in our society. We should remember that parts of our country were lost in the wars, crises and political games created during the time of the shahs.The courageous resistance of our people during the eight-year war ended this vicious cycle. And now, in the courageous, defiant, and Green rows of people who demand their rights, we see a continuum of the very resistance we saw during the war and the 1979 revolution.

However, we can conclude that we were too optimistic at the beginning of the Revolution. We can see today that the government, its newspapers and its national broadcasting network easily lie. Our people can see that in reality, the security and military forces control cases in the judiciary, that the judiciary itself has become an instrument of the security forces.

I believe that the martyrdom of men like [Ayatollah] Beheshti, [Ayatollah] Motahhari, and others during the Islamic Revolution was [a result of] the extended despotic roots of the previous regime that had not been destroyed completely. Therefore, I do not believe that the Islamic Revolution has achieved its goals. The Fajr festival [the 11 days leading to 22 Bahman (11 February)] held each year is, in reality, [a medium for people] to be vigilant and reinforce [their] strength in order to remove the remaining roots of despotism. Today, people are actively present on the scene to pursue justice, freedom and [the right] to rule their own destinies. We should remember that our nation has produced hundreds of thousands of martyrs in the pursuit of these goals.

The Islamic Revolution is the result of the efforts and sacrifices of our great nation. [Even] a slight ignorance and retreat will lead us to a darker dictatorship than before, because dictatorship in the name of religion is the worst kind.On the contrary, [the pursuit of ] knowledge as well as the primary goals of the Islamic Revolution, [which include] serious demands for freedom and justice, will carry us from a dark past to a bright future. This will destroy the remaining residues of dictatorship and pave the way for life in a free [society] where diversity, pluralism, freedom of speech and human dignity are all respected. I believe that the understanding of Islam which encourages calling people goats and is responsible for social divisions is [actually] influenced by pre-revolution dictatorial culture. The right thing for the judiciary to do was to pay attention to these roots and [influences] instead of executing a number of young men and teenagers amid serious rumors regarding the ways in which they were forced to confess.

However, as I mentioned before, we have lost all hope in the judiciary. A system that imprisons an intellectual, freedom-loving and religious son [Alireza Beheshti] of Martyr Beheshti, as well as others like him, sitting him under his father’s photo in the hallways of the courtroom, has moved far away from the ideals defined during the revolution.

Today, the prison cells are occupied with the most sincere and devoted sons of this nation: students, professors and others. [Security forces] are trying to prosecute them with espionage or charges related to financial or sexual misconduct, charges based on expired formulas, while the real criminals and thieves who steal public money are free. Instead of looking for the real spies, they accuse decent religious people. I should take this opportunity to express my regret that all of my advisors who are decent, honest and educated individuals have been arrested and that I am not with them. These days, there is not a [single] night that I don’t think of Imam [Khomeini], Martyr Behesti and others. I whisper to them that what was achieved is far from what they wanted. I did not name any of my advisors in order to pay my respects to all political prisoners. Iran will remember their names and their sacrifices.

Q. Can you give some examples of despotic mentality that are evident in the behavior of officials?

MOUSAVI: One can see the influence of this mentality as well as the remains of the despotic regime alongside the spirit of awareness and freedom everywhere. But perhaps the best example we can observe is the distortion of logical and legal relations between [different] branches in the system. It is very obvious now that Parliament does not have enough sway over the government in matters that fall under its jurisdiction. This is not an argument made solely by those who oppose the Government. Moderate conservatives who are aware also complain about these issues. Not responding to issues raised by the Supreme Audit Court, lack of transparency in oil sales and revenue spending, disregard for the fourth [development] program, destruction of the budget office to avoid audits and reviews, and so on: all are clear examples of a return to the pre-Pahlavi time. There is no need to look too far. A few days ago it was in the media that a minister objected to a question asked by reporters about teachers’ incomes by saying that it is no one’s business how much they earn or if that figure is low. You can hear similar comments from other officials as well as security forces.

Also, while Parliament has [openly] discussed the unprecedented atrocities committed in Kahrizak [Prison], one official says that the issue has been blown out of proportion unnecessarily. Another example given these days is the relationship between the Judiciary and its so-called forces. It is a question of whether the judges make the decisions or the security forces? To what extent can the Judiciary exercise its privileges when, in the Constitution, a great emphasis has been placed on its independence? In my opinion, one of the obvious cases that demonstrates the persistence of a despotic mentality is the injustice done to the [roles of] the Judiciary and the Parliament. Can both divisions exercise all the power bestowed upon them in the Constitution?

The similarities between today’s elections and those held during [the time before the revolution] are another sign. Compare the voting process for Parliamentary elections during the early years of the Revolution with that of today’s to see if we have moved forward or backward.

Q. One of the perennial demands, reflected in the slogans of political parties, is social justice and economic equality in particular. Sometimes, freedom and justice have been interpreted as opposites. With this in mind, is it possible to recognize a specific trend in the Green Movement?

MOUSAVI: In the Constitutional Revolution, people were demanding justice, and from this justice, a desire for freedom was born. In the history of human thought, the desire for justice has always existed, to a point where some scholars and philosophers believe that justice is above all virtues. I do not believe we must choose between justice and freedom. Take a look at our society, you can see that the $850 poverty line and simultaneous existence of inflation and unemployment are limiting the pursuit for freedom.

It is exactly at this point of greed for dominance and repression of people that demands for freedom rise up to show themselves. It is because of declining family budgets that distributing potatoes and welfare economy turns into a means to attract votes [by exploiting the] needs of people. An examination of the country’s current situation shows that the tight grip of demands of justice, especially on economic justice, on demands for political freedom is a necessary connection between the two.

Before revolution, it was a principle that the revolutionary forces and the academic class defended the lower class. It was their honour to be their friend. In my opinion, the point that all of us should have in mind is that of supporting the hard-working class. Of course, [that is] not for the purpose of using them as instruments but with the intention that the movement’s destiny will be tied to the destiny of all the people and especially with the classes who are productive in economy and science: the workers, teachers, and the academics. I regret that the intense political problems resulted in less attention to the lower class of the society, their problems, and their rights. When people’s standard of living improves, the roots of the freedom grow deeper in the society and unity and growth flourishes among people.

Today, those who are responsible for the misery of our people and the backwardness of the nation, and those who are responsible for inflation and unemployment and economic ruin of the country, those who are responsible for closing huge projects and setting us back compared to our neighbors, are misusing this situation by carrying out distorted, deceptive policies like injecting painkillers [into a body]. They are taking the country to the verge of ruin with the way they are handling the justice shares and pensions and the incorrect methods with which Article 44 of the constitution [on privatisation] is carried out. The future of the Fourth Development Plan and the yearly budget is of great concern, especially with the [Government's] incompetence that has resulted in the probability of increased sanctions.

In any case, the underprivileged classes of the society who care for Islamic values potentially have the same demands as the Green Movement. Those who are after a national consensus for change should become more integrated with these classes and also pursue their concerns and demands. Additionally, today we should all follow and be sensitive to economic news and analyses, because the economy has such a determining and crucial role in the fate of our country. These days the quantity of social and economic stories we see in the news [about Iran] is far less than the politics, and people are not informed as much as they should on these issues.

Q. A number of people see the solution to the country’s difficulties in moving beyond the Constitution. In your opinion, is this a real solution to our problems?

A. God willing, all of us entered the arena in the cause of reform, not for the sake of revenge or obtaining power or to destroy things.

Solutions which involve a transition beyond the Constitution are fraught with difficulties. The first of those is that the proponents of such a request do not have the capacity to attract the interest of the majority of our people. Without attracting the interest of the majority and, I have to say, without the creation of a consensus, we should not expect any fundamental or meaningful changes.

For this reason some of the slogans which lean toward moving past the Constitution have been treated with suspicion by the devout and by traditionalist institutions. Unfortunately, it must be said that sometimes these kinds of extremist slogans harm the movement more than the extremism of the authoritarians [who repress the movement].

That you are opposed to superstitious leanings and petrified beliefs and practices is a good thing. That, however, in the middle of battle, a debate is opened up that is incompatible with the religion and faith of the people is something of dubious value.

The next reason why moving beyond the Constitution is problematic is that, with such a solution, we are simply stabbing in the dark. If we lose hold of this connecting cord, the product of the struggles and efforts of past generations, we will be turned into little fragments without any character. Then naturally we would see ordinary people turning away from all this disorder and movement in the dark.

Those who are pursuing aims based on moving from the Constitution may well have control of the loudspeakers today, but in the heart of the society their aims are viewed with deep suspicion. In particular,
alongside the heralds of [those] moving beyond the Constitution are to be found, whether their presence is wanted or not, the repugnant figures of some monarchists who have seized the opportunity to display their hatred for the people and the Revolution. Those who include monarchists in the programmes they announce have apparently forgotten that the people have an extremely good memory. In any case, everyone should expect to be accepted in accordance with his or her weight in society, and not more [than that].

The slogans that are useful today are those which unequivocally help to make clear the aims of the movement, or which attract the sympathy of ordinary people to stand alongside the elites and the middle classes. They have to know that a decisive majority of the people consider 22 Bahman and the Islamic Revolution as belonging to the hundreds of thousands of martyrs [of the revolution and especially the 1980-8 war with Iraq] and that the history and character of our nation is, in city and village, bound to the yesterday of the Revolution by the chain of these martyrs.

Seven months of television programming coming from abroad, which has unfortunately become important because of the restrictions placed on media inside the country and because of the excesses of state television, has had its effects. Yet these effects are too weak for the people to give up the interests of their nation and their religious and historic demands. They [the authorities] should not exploit such a weapon [claims made on foreign channels] as a pretext for accusing people and suppressing the realities of our society.

In my opinion, efforts to push people to chant limited and pre-prepared slogans are an insult to the people. Slogans must well up from the heart of popular movements, in a spontaneous manner, not an autocratic one, in the same way that in 1978/9 the slogan “Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic” welled up naturally from people’s hearts.

Q. Is it not true that reliance on the Constitution would close options for the future?

MOUSAVIE: I have said before that the Constitution is not a something that cannot be changed. It has changed before in 1988, and it can change again. By considering what people think and demand and what their collective experience as a nation dictates, we can take steps to improve the constitution. Nevertheless, we must be aware that a good constitution by itself is not the solution. We must move towards a [political] structure that imposes a high cost on those who attempt to disobey or ignore the laws.

I believe that the Islamic Republic is meaningless without the Constitution. In addition to care in safeguarding against violations to the rule of the constitution, we must also consider lack of attention or ignoring of the rules as a violation to the Constitution. It is exactly for this reason that the demand of "unconditional execution of the constitutional rights" is one of the determining demands [of this movement].

Furthermore, for the same [reason], we must remind those who advocate the continuation of the Islamic Republic that if significant parts of the Constitution, especially those articles in the third section [on freedom and other right of people] are ignored, they would start to have consequences for the establishment in the form of other causes. We must all be aware [of this].

Violating the rights of people numerated in the Constitution and refraining from recognition of people as masters of their own destinies could lead to falsification of this invaluable national legacy. For example, those who promote spying and surveillance to such an extent that it is normal are destroying the establishment from its roots. Those who constrain the media and assume an exclusive control over national TV help destroy the pillars of the Islamic Republic.

In the 17th statement [of 1 January] I had alluded to springs [of clear water] that could calm the strong currents and clear the muddy and wavy river if they flow to the river. One of these clear paths is to officially announce that we want to return to the Constitution.

Q. For our last question, please give us your opinion about the rallies and demonstrations.

MOUSAVI: Rallies and nonviolent demonstrations are among the people’s rights. I don’t think that anyone --- men, women, middle-aged people, or seniors --- holds a grudge against the Basij [militia] and the security forces because they are seen as equals. Conflicts break out when these forces stand against a calm movement. You can produce a documentary out of the thousands of photos and video clips from the days of Ashura, as well as the days prior to it, that would demonstrate how these conflicts and tense environments are formed.

My advice to the basij and security forces is to be calm and kind in their treatment. My advice to followers of the Green Movement is to reduce their identifying features, whether they are used to help them stand out a little or a lot.

This movement has grown out of a people and it belongs to them. Everyone should be extremely mindful of beliefs, values, and traditions. But we should never forget our final goal --- to create a developed, independent, free, and united Iran. This goal can only be achieved with the collaboration of all men and women from all layers of society, of all opinions and [political] appetites.

Let me stress this point: when we say Iran, we must take into account all Iranians inside and outside who promote our land with its [ancient] culture and religious beliefs. God willing, the Green Movement will stop at nothing in its moral and nonviolent methods to fight the revival of our nation’s rights. This movement has always benefited from its choice of green: the color of the prophet and his family as well as the symbol of an Islam of love and affinity. The Green Movement respects human dignity, freedom of speech and the people’s right to hold different opinions. It welcomes all movements that aim to promote our nation’s development. It represents the [civil and constitutional] rights of citizens, among which is social justice.

Q. Do you have a representative or a spokesperson outside the country?

MOUSAVI: In the Green Movement, every citizen is a media outlet. But the green path does not have a representative or spokesperson outside the country. This is one of its beauties. Everyone can talk about their ideas and the movement expands within a collaborative environment. As one of the members of the movement, I too will express my comments and suggestions in this environment.

Q. You are sometimes quoted on websites, Facebook, and other online sources. To what extent do you approve these articles?

A. My pieces are written by me and are issued via very few websites. I do not have a personal weblog or anything of that sort. The quotes that you refer to are an inevitable results of virtual environments, and I am not associated with any of them.