Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi (2)


The Latest from Iran (31 July): And Now....?

The Latest from Iran (1 August): The Regime Gets Tough

Iran: How Big is the Green Wave?
Iran's "40th Day" Memorial: An Eyewitness Account
Beyond the Wave: Why the US Still Engages with Iran

The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July)
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July – Part 2)

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED
Buy Us A Cup of Coffee? Help Enduring America Expand Its Coverage and Analysis

IRAN 40 DAY 31650 GMT: Release the Prisoners! I am just going to re-print this from Fars News Agency and await confirmation that 25 percent of Iran's prison population will soon be freed:
17,000 prisoners were freed after amnesty and commutation of punishment term of a number of prisoners by the Supreme Leader," State Prisons Organization's Deputy Director for Management and Resource Development Mohammad Ali Zanjirehi told FNA on Friday.

"40 percent of the country's inmates, who account for around 68,000 people, were liable to the amnesty," Zanjirei said, adding that 17,000 out of the 68,000 inmates have been freed and the rest have enjoyed commutation of their terms or will be granted leaves in final months of their incarceration.

The decree, originally proposed by Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, was issued by the Leader on the occasion of the feast of Mab'ath, marking assignment of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to prophethood.

1555 GMT: Don't Forget That Foreign Threat. Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who has been gone unnoticed since the 12 June election, popped up today to appear at Friday prayers in Tehran and then try his hand with the "foreign agents" speech:
Western and European countries, with their overt and covert capabilities, interfered in Iran's election... the worst among them being Britain. The countries who interfered through their television networks by telling how to instigate riots, build explosives and other tension creating activities are accomplices in all the committed crimes, murders and are held responsible.

1540 GMT: Some, However, Are Not Ready for Compromise. Defying calls for concilation, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Freedom Movement of Iran (the party of nationalist Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in the 1950s) with dire consequences if they do not stop holding political meetings inside their headquarters. The Party has lodged an official complaint with the head of Iran's judiciary.

1535 GMT: Look Past Jannati. The trend in clerical statements in the last 24 hours, apart from Friday prayers in Tehran, has been a call for compromise and action on detainees (see 1510 and 1520 GMT). That fits a report from Salaam News that Grand Ayatollahs have been discussing vital "issues", and most except Ayatollah Noori-Hamedani (an ardent Ahmadinejad supporter) "have taken a similar stance against the attacks of fundamentalism".

1520 GMT: A Different Prayer Address. If Ayatollah Jannati played the hard-liner in Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini played the liberal in Qom. Amini stated:
The young have sensitive souls and do not tolerate injustice, and we must not label the young as being anti-revolutionaries and try to distance them from the revolution....The words of the young must be heard, and if they are correct, [what they say] must be accepted. If it is not right they must be advised correctly with gentle tones and respect. The young must be advised to value this revolution that was achieved at great cost to society....We must keep the young by our side not be words but by deeds and by showing them the real face of Islam.

Amini addressed specific issues such as detention, saying , the directive of Iran's head of  judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, clarifying the situation of the prisoners, "must be attended to... to alleviate the anxiety of their families....I wish Mr Sharoudi would have stated that the detainees and the arrested will be treated with Islamic kindness." At the same time, he supported Ayatollah Khamenei's authority, "The principle of supreme leadership is an important foundation of the establ0ishment and we all have the duty to protect this principle."

1515 GMT: Shajarian Wins! We have reported on the case of the Iranian classical singer Mohamad Reza Shajarian, who demanded that Iranian state media stop playing his music after President Ahmadinejad called his opponents "dust". The Deputy Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has declared, "From now on, no more Shajarian will be broadcast from IRIB, even during Ramadan."

1510 GMT: Looking for Compromise. Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, addressing pilgrims at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashad yesterday, said different political factions should stop fighting and meet with each other to reach an agreement, moving away from the "literature of conflict that exists in the media". The ayatollah said the issues of the prisoners must be resolved quickly; those who are innocent or whose misdemeanors are forgivable by Islamic kindness should be freed immediately, and hthose who have broken the law significantly must have their cases resolved quickly.

1315 GMT: Ahh, There He Is. Having cleared out of Tehran before yesterday's events, President Ahmadinejad has used a speech in Mashaad today to assure everyone that, despite portrayals by his political rivals, there is no rift between him and the Supreme Leader:
This is not a political relationship ... our relationship is based on kindness. It is like a relationship between a father and his son. Your efforts will bear no fruit. This road is closed for those devils who dream about harming our relationship. Their dream will be buried along with them.

The summary from Reuters gives no indication whether Ahmadinejad referred to the dispute with Ayatollah Khamenei over the appointment of the 1st Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. At Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Jannati, while defending Ahmadnejad against "plotters", did bring up the matter: ""Such appointments hurt your supporters ... A key position should not be given to a person who is not respected."

In light of that criticism, is Ahmadinejad's speech a gesture of apology to the Supreme Leader, ahead of his inauguration on 5 August, or will he try to restore some political authority and independence?

1300 GMT: Tehran Police Commander Azizollah Rajabzadeh has said 50 people were arrested in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery and the Grand Mosala yesterday.

1205 GMT: More on Jannati's Address (see 1130 GMT). The Ayatollah highlighted the statement of 205 Members of Parliament in support of the Supreme Leader (which, of course, does not mean that they support Ahmadinejad). He carried out the confrontation with Hashemi Rafsanjani by returning to the disputed letter from the Assembly of Experts. Even though this was signed by only 16 of 86 members, it was still valid; most of those who could not sign, because they were scattered throughout the country for the summer, supported the initiative.

1145 GMT: An intriguing comment from a participant in Lara Setrakian's summary of yesterday's memorial: "Police were sympathetic with the people [and] told us in which row we could find Neda's grave."

1130 GMT: Getting Tough. Unfortunately, the live tweet of Ayatollah Jannati's address broke down halfway through; however, Fars News has now posted a report, and it's clear that Jannati is ready for a fight.

The Ayatollah claimed that there were those who plotted four years ago to keep President Ahmadinejad out of power, despite his 7-million vote majority and that these people were now trying "to take revenge". In the face of this threat, there should be no question of legimitacy: "If the election is invalid, then all elections of the last 30 years should be declared invalid because the process has always been the same."

Nor was Jannati subtle in his religious context for this political assertion, highlighting Prophet Mohammad's facing of his enemies and his resolve to maintain unity.

It doesn't take a genius to do the rhetorical and political mathematics. In 2005 President Ahmadinejad's second-round opponent was Hashemi Rafsanjani, the man whom Jannati is trying to depose as head of the Assembly of Experts. Welcome to the next round of this heavyweight battle.

1125 GMT: We're trying to track down an English-language summary of Ayatollah Jannati's address. Press TV English's website is silent.

0900 GMT: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a key member of the regime as Secretary of the Guardian Council, is giving the address at Friday prayers in Tehran today. (Jannati was one of the pro-Government members of the Assembly of Experts who tried to curb Hashemi Rafsanjani last week, putting out a statement signed by only 16 of the 86 representatives on the Assembly.)

So far the address is focusing on the need for unity, citing a petition from the Prophet Mohammad, the Yasrab, and calling on people to follow the regime. It is being "live tweeted" at the moment.

0700 GMT: Two items of note from The Huffington Post. First, Kevin Sullivan asserts, "Western Hubris Won't Reform Iran". While I differ from Sullivan's reading of developments inside Iran, his conclusion is valuable:
All of this is terribly exciting. It's also out of our control, and that's a good thing. History often needs the proper room to breathe, not the breathless instigation of a hubristic few.

Let these "greens" grow on their own.

Which makes it just a bit ironic that, in the same paper, Melody Moezzi is proclaiming, "Iran's Red Tulip Revolution".

Humble suggestion: don't impose a label on this movement. Not a plant like "Cedar". Not a colour like "Orange" or "Rose". And certainly not "Velvet".

0650 GMT: The Wall Street Journal, relying on a leaked document, reports:
A privately owned German company, Knauf Gips KG, warned its Iranian employees working in Iran that they would be immediately dismissed if caught in antigovernment protests....

Iran's government pressured Knauf to issue the order after a senior executive was arrested during Friday prayer demonstrations two weeks ago, according to people familiar with the case. The company, which has 22,000 employees around the world, was told that such a letter would be a condition for the executive's release.

An executive of Knauf, which makes drywall, warned in the letter:
We would like to remind all of our employees to remember that they are not only representing their private opinion when being politically active, but their actions could fall back negatively on our Knauf companies in Iran. Therefore, from now on, if anybody from our company gets caught demonstrating against the current government, he or she will be immediately dismissed.

0630 GMT: A quieter start today, so we've taken the opportunity to write a special analysis of what may be next both for the Iranian Government and for the opposition, "How Big is the Green Wave?".

0505 GMT: Press TV English's latest report is one of cautious understatement, both of the events and of numbers: "Police have dispersed hundreds of Iranians who sought to gather in a cemetery south of the capital of Tehran to commemorate those killed in the post-election unrest." The brief item, however, did refer to police use of tear gas, to the appearance of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi (before he was turned back by security forces), and to the mourners' attempts to gather at the Grand Mosala.

While there was no reference to demonstrations elsewhere in Tehran and outside the capital, Press TV is also refraining from language criticising the protestors and their challenge to the 12 June election.

0500 GMT: News of a death that was lost amidst yesterday's memorial: "On Wednesday, the Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Without Borders urged authorities to explain the death of journalist Alireza Eftekhari on June 15. His body was handed over to relatives on July 13. A news release said Eftekhari died from a severe beating."

Iran: The Post-Election Challenge from Qom's Clerics 

Iran: The “Ghaffari Tape” Criticising the Supreme Leader
The Latest from Iran (1 July): The Opposition Regroups

Receive our latest updates by email or RSS- SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FEED

QOMIn the furour over the Presidential election, the most intriguing political contest may have taken place, behind the street scenes, in Iran's religious centre, south of Tehran in the dusty city of Qom.

Within 72 hours of the 12 June vote, the clerics of Qom's seminaries had taken their place on the political stage. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani tried to mobilise them for a public challenge to President Ahmadinejad's victory. That initial attempt failed; indeed it is a key reasons why Rafsanjani then kept a careful silence before an equally careful, "balanced" return to public life with his speech last Sunday. There would be no mass movement of the religious leadership behind any campaign. Instead, factions already aligned to particular political movements would reassert their positions. The Association of Combatant Clerics would ally itself with the efforts of former President Mohammad Khatami and, thus, Mir Hossein Mousavi; Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, prominent on the Guardian Council, would bolster Ahmadinejad's position.

As the public demonstrations against the election swell, some Western media noted the possible significance of Qom, indeed over-dramatising a possible "split" in the Iranian system; conversely, as the public challenge has been contained, notions of a clerical challenge receded. That, too, is a mistake: the debate not only over the election but over the guardianship of Iran's Islamic Revolution continues.

While there still has been no significant show of support for the President (note Press TV's slightly strained attempt this morning, via an interview with a clerical member of Parliament, to say, "No one is talking about the election anymore), opposition has emerged in scattered but sometimes dramatic ways. The criticism of Ayatollah Montazeri, the one-time successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, was to be expected; the current regime, led by Montazeri's replacement, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, still keeps the cleric under house arrest. He is not alone, however. Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has claimed that the Iranian system is moving away from Khomeini's path and thoughts. Ayatollam Mousavi-Ardebili has criticised violence against the protestors and said recent events have weakened Iran's political and religious institutions. Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli has expressed displeasure. Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi and Ayatollah Sane’i have made gentler interventions, and Ayatollah Haeri-Shirazi has written a careful but still challenging letter to the Supreme Leader. There are reports of "secret" meetings between Ayatollahs to consider developments and longer-term prospects.

The most dramatic challenge has come in a statement by Ayatollah Hadi Ghaffari on Ayatollah Khamenei. The leaked
audio on YouTube
has created a stir with Ghaffari's criticism of the Supreme Leader's post-election conduct: Khamenei has ruined the honour of clerics with his handling of the political situation. (First reports said that Ghaffari had gone as far as to insult Khamenei as a "corpse-washer".) The ideals of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution are not being defended but destroyed.

None of this points to a Qom-led coup against President Ahmadinejad and, more importantly, Khamenei. On the other hand, these concerns are part of a much wider, more significant story of years past and years to come.

The Western caricature of Iran is that of a "theocracy" in which the "mullahs" hold power, working with secular politicians. That misconception misses the reality that a large section of Iran's clerical establishment are no friends of Ahmadinejad, whose policies and pronouncements have been seen as a challenge to the Iran envisaged by Ayatollah Khomeini. Indeed, it is not even accurate to speak on a unified clerical movement behind the Supreme Leader, whose selection in 1989 was a surprise to many --- given his relative junior status --- and has been seen as a triumph of politicians (ironically, given recent events, as part of manoeuvres by Hashemi Rafsanjani for authority) rather than a religious succession.

No surprise then that another video has supposedly resurfaced, this one of Ayatollah Montazeri considering the Iranian system of clerical authority, Velayat-e-Faqih, as he criticises Ayatollah Khameini. The text is clear: religion's true and proper place in the growth of the Islamic Republic has become "politicised" and thus corrupted.

And that is why the Presidential vote has a lasting significance, whatever happens in the near future with the demonstrations. Those ballot boxes are a symbol of the wider corruption that Montazeri claimed was undermining the Revolution. And, long after they have been put away, their symbolism --- whatever actually happened on 12 June --- remains.

As pne of our correspondents noted, after a lengthy glance at Qom last week, "This is not over."