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Iran Document: Mousavi "Imam Khomeini, Revolution, and the Green Movement" (2 June)

Khordaad 88's translation of an interview with Mir Hossein Mousavi on the website linked to him, Kalemeh:

Kalemeh: We are approaching the anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini [on, 4 June].This year the ceremonies seem different from previous years. On one side, old opponents of Imam inside and outside the country try to desecrate his image and they are supported by foreign media. On the other side, there are those in State TV and amongst the strong advocates of imprisonment who promote an image of the Imam that advocated oppression. What is your opinion on the goals that these groups seek? And what may this end with?

MOUSAVI: If the unintended collaboration of the State TV and opponents of Imam in THE desecration of his image is allowed to continue and is not met with a response, it would end with nothing but hatred towards our past.

The Latest from Iran (2 June): Where’s My Crowd?

These new images are introduced by constant meddling in the original perception of Imam and the Revolution. Those who have directly experienced those years with Imam perceive an image of him that has no proximity to what is being promoted right now.

The Revolution won its victory with the messages of independence, freedom, and the Islamic Republic. It was these messages that gained the support of people. People gave Imam a unique welcome in the days of revolution in 1978. In Imam’s funeral, people came out in numbers four times greater. I don’t think such crowds came out to just see and get some time off.

The clips from those days clearly show the waves of emotions and opinions that people had toward Imam. Let us remember that people showed that much emotion after enduring the hardships of the war, and the early days of the revolution. If Imam’s image was even slightly close to what the State TV claims it was, then we would not have had so many people pouring the streets on his funeral, or at least we would have witnessed people being more indifferent. I think there is a lot of light to be shed on this distorted image of Imam promoted by his opponents outside, and the authorities inside who are now turning into guards that constrain freedom.

Kalemeh: There are expensive programs being organized for anniversary of Imam’s funeral. Why do you think such a course of action is taken?

MOUSAVI: Please pay attention to the fact that the system still gets a significant amount of its legitimacy from Imam and the collective memory of people from that great character. In the current context, those currently in power who have violently constrained the legitimate freedom of others and filled the prisons, and those who promote superstition and advocate a stone-age Islam, need to excessively spend this great social asset.

Instead, when one brings forth this [correct] image [of Khomeini], one is also highlighting the differences between those times and now which questions the corrupt and despotic nature of policy approaches today. A right look back at the early years of the Revolution shows how far we have deviated from those goals and values that we first set.

Note that saying pay attention to those years does not mean to return to those days. The goal is to remember the roots and the directions that we set for the revolution: justice, freedom, and spirituality.

We want to use the Islamic Revolution to launch [our nation] to [a bright] future. We don’t want to create a chaotic emotional environment and lose our direction to that future. We must constantly remind our younger generations that what is happening today is different than what happened during the time of Imam.

I am confident that if...the youth of today were there yesterday, they would be amongst the martyrs like Martyr Bakeri, Bagheri, or Hemmat. Similarly, if the youth of that time were here today, they would be the leaders of the Green Movement of Hope and would probably be in prisons, held captive for their national and religious beliefs.

Kalemeh: You talked of the early years and the initial goals of the revolution. But how can one talk of those years in an environment of today that is bombarded with propaganda?

MOUSAVI: There are countless papers and books written, and that continue to be written on the Islamic Revolution in Iran for obvious reasons: the Revolution’s great impact on the region and throughout the world. After the rRvolution, not only Iran started to look very different, but also the whole region started to change.

However, what we need today in the back and forth around the media and propaganda is promotion of a clear and visible image of that time and the Imam. As I said, there is a immature attempt to highlight ostensible similarities between now and Imam’s time, and this must be stopped. For instance, you can discuss the theoretical perspective of Imam on parliament. You can break down his ideas to what was in religious scholarship and what was acceptable to people and to recognition of Parliament, whether from the religious perspective or acceptability of it lays on the people. Parliament is composed of representatives of people, and these representatives come out of the people themselves.  Accordingly, the parliament is “at the forefront of the affairs”.

But more important and more effective is to recount memories that demonstrate the means of political action at the beginning of the revolution. For example,I was talking to Mr [Mehdi] Karroubi about election process during Imam’s era. He recited a memory that helps us get a more clear understanding of Imam Khomeini’s personality and the values that were dominant in society at the time.

In the third Parliamentary election two candidates,  a poor, hardworking intellectual teacher and  a person with ties to Imam Khomeini’s family , were running in the region of Khomein. Although a person close to Imam Khomeini was supporting the second candidate, people chose the first one. The person who was a relative of Imam sent a letter to him questioning the results. Imam replied laughing ,  “What is a better indication of a fair election than that a person related to me, who also enjoys the support of yourself , runs for election but people choose a simple teacher who does not have such supporters?"

Isn't this one of the beauties of election that we should be grateful for? Compare this with the case that occured during the 6th parliamentary election in Tehran [region] when 700 ballots were cancelled to replace  an intellectual [Alireza Rajaie] who enjoyed no [state] support with an individual [Gholam Ali Haddad Adel,  father-in-law of the Supreme Leader’s son Mojtaba Khamenei] with relations [to high establishment officials]. Or the implementation of “approbation supervision”, that did not exist during Imam’s time, which is in reality a mean of dividing the election in two stages. If you pay attention carefully, you will see how this term that has no root in the Constitution or  public wisdom has been [mis]used to disqualify a large number of valuable and caring individuals. The result has been to undermine the status and role of the parliament.

I ask all the conservative members of the Parliament, who have not stained their faith with tyranny: doesn’t thinking about all these humiliations directed toward Parliament make you feel worried and empty?  Is the current situation you are in fitting to the meaning of [Imam Khomeini's] sentence “The Parliament leads all affairs”? [3] You have been incapable of scrutinizing even a small portion of the government's financial irregularities and of receiving a proper response. What answer would you give God and his servants whom you represent? Does the current situation in the Parliament have any resemblance to parliaments during the time of Imam Khomeini?...

Some people in this country are destroying everything including Imam’s image and the first 10 years of revolution.  This was a project that was started in the 10th presidential election [of 2009]. As I said, a proper introduction of Imam Khomeini and a fair introduction of the Revolution will expose and scathe the politics of oppression and superstition.

Kalemeh: You are known as the prime minister of Imam Khomeni. In your speeches, statements, and interviews you always speak about the bright era in the first decade of the revolution and Imam’s path. In general and in the political sphere of Iran , have different dimensions of Imam’s personality been exaggerated?

MOUSAVI: Dr. Shariati once said, “ Peak of the Damavand [highest mountain in Iran] does not need a proof that it is the tallest.”Imam was an extraordinary person. He brought an irreversible change in our history and ended the monarchy , a system that prided itself in humiliation of peasants in face of their kings. Some images from the epoch of Shah could mislead our youth. But [they ] should be reminded that one of the posters published repeatedly in newspapers of the time showed a poor peasant kissing Shah’s shoes.

In response to your question, I should reiterate that Imam was an extraordinary man. But he did not perceive himself as such. He despised praise and eulogy. Once he banned national TV from showing his picture and said ,“ Whenever I open TV, I see myself. It make me want to puke.” He had the same ban [on his picture] for newspapers for a period.

People who have experienced that era remember that, when the top elected member of Parliament from Tehran praised him,  he ferociously interrupted him....A similar case occurred with the head of the Expediency Council, who was also Imam Khomeini’s student. When he lauded Imam Khomeini in public, Imam rejected his words publicly.

It is not strange if we see him as a symbol of a new system that is progressive, seeks freedom, and demands justice. Without his charisma and his relationship with people, our nation would not have resisted for eight years of war [with Iraq]. Without our nation’s belief in him, we would not have survived numerous terrorist attacks during that era.

Kaleme: Some members of Green Movement raise a question as why you repeatedly speak about Imam Khomeini or use his picture?

MOUSAVI: I referred to the necessity of introducing Imam Khomeini to the youth. But I should also discuss another point, which I have no doubt  all supporters of Green Movement agree on , and that is integrity.

I cannot pretend against my attachment to and admiration for Imam Khomeini and Revolution. Since the formation of Green Path of Hope, I clearly introduced myself as a companion of the Green Movement so I can discuss my beliefs transparently. A characteristic of this movement is transparent and honest discussion of thoughts and ideas. Exchange of ideas does not harm us.

We should remember that one of the best posters regarding the movement was the one that read, “Lying is disallowed.”. What kind of expectation requires me to ignore a 10-year period full of experiences and various events? Not only me but a large number of our people have thousands of memories from Imam Khomeini. They have been influenced by that era and are not willing to keep quiet in the face of injustice and distortion toward Imam’s character. Is it correct to ignore this great political capital? Is not this what the prison guards want us to do?

Kalemeh: You introduced yourself as a member of the Green Movement, and talked about your devotion, and love for the Imam and the revolution. You talked about how it is necessary to protect the spiritual asset that is the experiences during the Imam era. But haven’t these talks stopped you from critically viewing those times? Don’t you think that there are problems with those times as well?

MOUSAVI: I have heard this issue before, especially after the speech of Tehran’s Attorney General [Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi]. There is also a letter published on one of these websites addressing this very issue. As a Shiite Muslim, one of our beliefs is that after the 14 innocent ones, all the rest of God’s people are not innocent and the commit sins, unless God keeps the innocent. The same reasoning applies to Imam’s era.

However, I don’t see it necessary to criticize when internal and external enemies have aimed for the Imam’s image and that era. Obviously, in the context of today, even a slight allusion to a problem would be greatly magnified just like the plot of the tearing of the picture of Imam, that was abused by enemies outside and inside the country.

Today, the enemies of the Green Movement are looking everywhere for a prey or an excuse to destroy that bond that connects us together. Millions in our country like and appreciate Imam, and I am one of them. Recognition of this affinity [to Imam] and the freedom that brings about is a great asset that we cannot make a mistake about, especially in the current conditions. Let me repeat again, we do not expect a companion [of the movement] to lie, no matter how small a member that person is.

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Reader Comments (10)

"The Revolution won its victory with the messages of independence, freedom, and the Islamic Republic." This is a major probelm for the Green Movement. While many do revere the Imam many also point to him as the architect for the current regime. After all once he came to power in 1979 he broke a vow and then moved to liquidate the secularist left. I think Moussavi believes in the revolution but he is making a grave error by putting on blinders regarding its awful track record pertaining to human rights. For Iran to be truly free they are going to have to address their past transgressions or else evern Mossavis gov't would just be a reboot of the old minus some of thuggery!

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwdavit

In sazegara daily speech today, he said that Moussavi had explained that during Imam's time mistakes had been done and he had not been able to defend a hundred per cent the system of that periode; ask arshama, he listened to as well.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnge-Paris

Ange and Bill,

My first reaction to Sazegara's valuable explanations was just like Bill's, i.e. the same mess again, but less violent and more 'legitimized' by the people.
But listening carefully a second time, one remarkable point appeared at least: Sazegara introducts his interpretation with the definition of the "14 ma'soum", the 14 innocents ones, after whom no other infallibles appeared, i.e. even Khomeini is not infallible and can be criticised as well as his era. The second point was rather an excuse for not criticising him by invoking the unity of the Green movement.
I'm not here to defend the IR or Khomeini, who is still the devil to me, but we should listen carefully to what his fervent supporters say, in line with their religious beliefs: criticising Khomeini IS possible, because he is per definitionem not infallible. That opens the door to a critical evaluation of his thoughts and "achievements", which is obviously necessary. I'm fully convinced even Mousavi knows that all too well: after all he has been publicly criticised for his own silence towards the mass executions during his presidency, when Khomeini was fully alive.
Mousavi HAS to cling to him to save himself, but also to defend himself and his supporters against the obvious accusation of treason. It is easy to be against the IR when you are abroad, but suicidal for those who live in its boundaries.
Nevertheless we, who are free to speak out, should continue to insist on the necessary clarity on the Green movement's goals, i.e. if its leaders just want to continue the old mess, or if they are really ready to drop their false ideals, when a majority votes against them...


June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Mousavi, Karroubi and et al's unwillingness to acknowledge the mass disaffection with the IRI model has been sapping the energy, momentum and cohesion of the movement.

June 12th's protests will be scattered, weak and easily suppressed. There may be more robust protests later in the month, the 18th or the 20th, when people realize that they really need to hit the pavements or this thing really will be lost. And hopefully by then, the paramilitaries in Terhan will be tired and overstretched, allowing for a greater show of dissent.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBozorg

[...] Mirhossein Mousavi: Imam Khomeini, die Revolution und die Grüne Bewegung [...]

[...] Iran Document: Mousavi “Imam Khomeini, Revolution, and the Green … [...]

Since commenters have referenced Sazegara speeches, are these available in English? And can anyone enlighten and update us on where he's broadcasting from and under what auspices? Is he back with VOA? Thanx.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterInterested


Unfortunately Sazegara's daily speeches are not available in English, but here you find some informative articles about his ongoing "sedition" ;-)" rel="nofollow">
His video messages are a mix of "Green" news from Iran and abroad, practical advices and strategies for non-violent struggle and resistance (from our beloved Gene Sharp), comments on the regime's failures, and announcements of the Green's rallies etc., which he posts from Washington or other locations when traveling.
I don't know, if he ever quit VOA, but you can see him and Alireza Nourizadeh discussing Iran's latest events with moderator Jamshid Chalangi each Friday. Warning: extremely addictive :-)


June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

[...] Iran Document: Mousavi “Imam Khomeini, Revolution, and the Green … [...]

This is all very new to me and this article really opened my eyes.Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom. shhmcj shhmcj - Belstaff Jacken Shop.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpkmnuj pkmnuj

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