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Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi on Khomeini, the Rule of Law, and Protest in 2010 (4 June)

Earlier this week we posted a video made by Mehdi Karroubi for the commemoration of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. Khordaad 88 provides this translation:

We approaching the anniversary of [the death of] Imam [Khomeini]. As usual we wanted to hold speeches, organize rallies and travel to the provinces. Unfortunately, last year’s election and the unseen cases fraud were a series of unfortunate incidents for our country.

I believe, like many others, that the mood that those events had set are going to continue and disrupt the usual ceremonies for the anniversary of departure of Imam. Of course, presence of people on that magnificent day is great and very important, but events that followed after the election has definitely left their stain on these ceremonies. For example, there were three nights of programmes every year. This year, there is only one day limited to a Friday prayer. We see that the rest of the programmes are organized by the forces in Basij and Revolutionary Guards, and it is people within the military who give the most interviews.

The organizers of course commit to what they do, and it’s their duty too, but in their interviews they don’t give content to speeches on the day, instead they decide the ways that others should act, namely the siblings of the great Imam Khomeini.

Well, the grandchild of Imam [Seyed Hassan Khomeini] will speak, and he knows what to say and how to say it. We usually get a chance for interviews, but this year they either didn’t do interviews, or when they did they did not reflect it in the news. They seem to be afraid....

That is why I was thinking that I should talk about Imam, about his resistance and tolerance, about his firm decision making, about his proactive thinking and vision for the future. I wanted to talk about the decisions that opened up blockades that seemed like a dead-end. These require long discussions that deserve more extensive time. Accordingly, I was thinking that this year, I will talk about what we are facing in the country.

Some talk as though Imam belongs to them. They talk as though they are the only followers and the rest are not. They accuse whoever is critical of the election results. They accuse them of being agents of Mossad and the CIA. They don’t stop at any insults. They say things like these people should not have objected to the election results, or that they were traitors from the beginning and the election is just a reason for us to see the true treacherous faces of dissidents. They believe that, even if the dissidents were good people, they failed to prove themselves during the crisis that unfolded after the elections. They are very active in attaching these allegations to us, and they have all the media outlets to do so.

We try to be patient, and sometimes we reply, but today I was thinking because of the anniversary of Imam, I must add some new points.

We deny their allegations. We have not deviated from the path that Imam laid out. We are resisting based on the goals of that very path. If you see a problem in that, let’s sit down and debate and our dear people will judge. We ask them to find whomever they want and we’ll sit down and debate. But they haven’t responded, and probably won’t in the future.

Because they know very well how they are unravelling all the roots of this revolution. They know very well how they are undermining all the goals that Imam had in mind. They know how they are creating a deviation from Imam’s path and imposing their own frameworks on Imam’s path.

Now I have to allude to some very important and key points that Imam had in mind for the revolution which these people [in power now] have tried to undermine. Maybe in the end, we will know who has really gone astray from the path that Imam laid out. Maybe we will know which groups have become captive to the sweet taste of power and have forgotten all about the goal and aims of Imam.

First point:

Imam said two words: “Islamic Republic.” Regarding the "Republic" Imam said that "vote of the people is the main criteria". He said all the entities in the government should be directly or indirectly result of the vote of people. Criteria for all power should be the vote of people.

Let me point out what happened in the Third Parliament [1990], one year after the departure of Imam. They created the "expediency monitoring" program that barring the people from entering the parliament election process. They filtered out many who had been in the Parliament for 4, 8 or even 12 years. They filtered out many others outside the Parliament. They tried to create a parliament that they wanted.

When the Parliament was created it hosted people of all thought and views. It was a Parliament that contributed two presidents to the establishment. When those two were martyred, it contributed more. It contributed ministers of Labor, of Education, of Internal Affairs, and of Culture. That Parliament is now turned into this new [useless] Parliament a new Parliament that legislates a bill to quicken the process of executions.

I respect the great members of the Parliament, but we must understand what costs we had to pay to have this Parliament. So I am saying that, with the selective "expediency monitoring" process, they created a filter for the vote of people through the Guardian Council. They hold the right to approve or disapprove the eligibility of people to enter the parliamentary election process. They denied people who served as representatives of people for more than 20 years with the tiniest excuses. They removed many people who were of great value to the establishment.

In 1369 [1990], a year after Imam Khomeini’s passing, during the second Assembly of Experts election...they decided to make the Guardian Council (appointed by the Supreme Leader) responsible for checking candidates’ eligibility. Some wanted to take part in choosing the supreme leader and monitor his role, which is the constitutional responsibility of the Assembly of Experts. I want to add that members of the assembly also have some oversight on the Supreme Leader’s appointments into different committees. Many innocent and devoted individuals such as Ayatollah Ehsanbakhsh and Mr. Najmy where disqualified from the second round elections for the Assembly of Experts.

The first issue that arose was seemingly random qualification process. I can never forget Mr. Abasifard. His candidacy was tested once; he was approved but he was not elected. He joined the Judiciary as an officer which put him in a better position to run for office. Two years later, when he decided to run for office again, his candidacy was tested once more. I was in Qom when I heard about this and told one of my friends there that they probably want to get rid of him. I couldn’t explain why a person would have to be tested twice in two years any other way. I was right. He was tested once more and disqualified. Then he went to Khuzestan to run for office from there. This time, his candidacy was approved and he was elected. Two or three years ago, they once again disqualified him. This means that the Guardian Council must first approve his election. How is this following Imam’s teachings that asked us all to put people’s votes first and to depend on elections?

They have justified weakening the Republic by pretending to make the country more Islamic. But let me assure you that the Islamic nature of this government is seriously in jeopardy.

Another point:

Imam Khomeini used to create a balance between different parties. He protected the parties within the regime, but he also warned them if they stepped out of line. He dealt with the issues that arose from this.

For instance, we had a meeting with the clergymen about the second election in which Mr. Fakhr Al Din Hejazi was disqualified. Imam Khomeini sent a message and ask why Mr. Hejazi, an outspoken veteran, who had previously been elected with the most number of votes was sacked. Or in another meeting when Ayatollah Yasrabi was disqualified from running in the first Assembly of Experts...Imam called one of the participants. He asked why Ayatollah Yasrabi was sacked and asked the council to qualify his candidacy.

Or in the third Parliamentary elections, after Mr Sheikh Mohamaad Yazdi did not get elected, Imam Khomeini immediately made him a member of Guardian Council , or another example is Ayatollah Tabasi who was from city of Mashhad and was the head of the Imam Reza holy shrine trusteeship[1] . Some of our friends had organized a meeting at Gohar Shad Mosque....A few speakers in the meeting were not on good terms with Mr.Tabasi and they showed that in their speeches. Ahmad Khomeini [the Imam's son], at the request of Imam Khomeini, called the organizers to object and said Mr Tabasi is Imam Khomeini’s representative and head of the trusteeship; your conduct there is not advisable. In other words Imam always tried to keep a balance between various sides; there are more stories than those I recounted.

Now this is not the case. The approach is one-sided and partial, and this has led to many problems for the country. Take the example of Parliament which was formed by means of disqualifying thousands of legitimate candidate and  installing current members, yet they still have serious issues with the Government and the Parliament is incapable of performing its responsibilities.

Another important point I want to discuss with you is regarding the issue of Marjah [senior clerics]. The most important [religious and social] capital of Shia...are the Marjas. They have been the support and refuge for Shia Islam in difficult moments of its meandering history.

I would like to refer you to the story of Grand Ayatollah Mizary Shirazi and his fatwa banning usage of tobacco during Iran’s constitutional revolution of 1906 or the stories of Ayatollah Haj Kazem Yazdi who lived in Najaf during the British siege of Baghdad. Despite warning from British that the city of Najaf will come under attack and he should leave, Yazdi refrained and said, "The people of Najaf are all my family, I cannot take them all with me or leave them behind." There the stories related to martyrdom of Ayatollahs in the same war. In the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, Shia Marjah played an important role due to a series of events which consequently gave them a unique and distinguished position in the affairs of the time.

More important than these is the story of Imam Khomeini himself. The fact that Imam Khomeini was a Marja was certainly the most important factor in overthrowing the previous regime.

Imam Khomeini was a great Marja, and he had numerous students. The head of Savak [the Shah's secret poice] unit in the holy city of Qom was a man named Sergeant Ghalghaseh.....In one of his reports he mentioned that among the scholars in Qom, Ayatollah Khomeini has the largest number of students. Between 500-600 students participate in his classes. At that time having 50-100 pupils was a large number; the average was around 10, 20 or even 30....

Savak tried to strip the title of Marja from Imam Khomeini....They wanted to establish the fact that Imam Khomeini is not a Marjaa and he is simply a dissident like some other Ayatollahs,  but because of Imam Khomeini’s influence they did not succeed.

Imam Khomeini considered it very important that the status and position of Marjah should be revered and respected. I was speaking in Friday Rrayers once, and in my speech I attacked one the Marjah of the time, who had been visited by Farah [former Queen of Iran under the Shah’s regime] and the Marja has given a ring to the Shah as a gift....I scolded him in my speech....Imam, who was listening to the speech, immediately called his associates and asked them to tell radio to remove those words from the speech that was going to be broadcast....

Another story in this regard was when Ayatollha Taheri Khoraam Abadi was going to Pakistan and the Shiite population there requested a representative on behalf of Imam Khomeini as their Marja. Imam Khomeini told him to let people themselves decide which Marja to follow. Do not interfere with that issue and only focus on discussing the Islamic Revolution.

The late Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini's] vigor along with his victory [in the Revolution] would return some who would have otherwise wandered away. Before I became the Imam’s representative in [the] Hajj [institute], some of the officials there had told the clergymen of the caravans to answer people’s religious queries based on Imam [Khomeini's] fatwas. When he heard of this, he was very disappointed and told them that this is not correct as people follow different Grand Ayatollahs.

The Imam completely respected the rights of the clergy and other grand Ayatollahs. But look at how the Grand Ayatollahs are treated today and what has become of them and the religious seminaries. We know what role the Intelligence Ministry, the armed forces, and some of the clergy are playing in this, and what they and some of these organizations have done. They gather in front of the houses [of some of the grand ayatollahs] in front of the Jame’e Modaressin’s [Society of the teachers of the Qom Islamic Seminary] office and trigger various events.

Are they following the example of the late Imam?  Has this been our fault or the groups who now have the government in their control?

Three issues were very important for the Imam, one of them was abiding by the law. In the Imam’s example of governance, he insisted on following the law except for very urgent matters, for example matters, that came up during the war.

I want to relate a very interesting story in this regard for the dear listeners and readers:
During the first Parliament [after the RTevolution] we had to write the legal statutes for the Revolutionary Guards and Intelligence Ministry. It was stated that the head of the Intelligence Ministry must be a mojtahed [someone proficient in Islamic], and it was passed in the Parliament. Now the Imam had heard about this and was against it....The Parliament Speaker then said that we can take the law back and modify it if it displeases you, but the Imam replied that now that it has been passed and is part of the law, I will not interfere. We have many and many of these examples from the Imam....

The Imam abided by the law and insisted on it being implemented. He also was, both according to the example of his life and his will, against the armed forces interfering in politics. He believed that they should defend the revolution but not back any particular political group or party or interfere in elections.

Is this in the interest of the establishment? The armed forces, the Basij and Revolutionary Guards, taking the fate of the elections into their armed hands? We know that this is happening, and I’m clearly stating it without shying away. We see that representatives get into the Parliament with their support. I don’t mean to say that there are no honorable MP’s with people’s real vote behind them, but some members have entered the parliament backed by the Basij and Revolutionary Guards and have violated the rights of other candidates by doing so. And today their strings are pulled by the same forces, and they make speeches given to them and do nothing but what they are ordered to do.

The Imam emphasized that military force should not interfere with politics. Today everyone claims they attack people because they are against the military and Basiji, unfortunately by doing so they tarnish the image of so many institutions.  I do not mean to sound disagreeable however, the truth is that their sense of morality has been destroyed in the eyes of the people. If not, then let’s ask the people openly what they really think of these institutions.  Are the Basiji today the same as the Basiji of the past? What about the Imam’s teachings to live a simple life and not abuse the country’s assets or use them to create problems for the ruling government?

I have briefly presented some of the Imam’s strong points of view and ask these gentlemen to respond to them. We were protectors. We sought to have free elections. We sought for justice to prevail. We fought to make sure that military force is not used in elections. We worked hard to preserve the spiritual authority of the Marjaas.  In response, they attacked the homes of the Marjah. During Friday Prayers, they verbally attacked a well known Grand Ayatollah who was  abroad. One gentleman came and verbally attacked another Marja for political reasons –-- he verbally attacked him when I had heard the Grand Ayatollah speak only fondly of this gentleman.

What I am trying to say is that the Imam tried hard to make sure everyone is included and that we all work towards the Imam’s ideals.  We are resilient. We will continue to speak our minds and we won’t pay attention to all this blabber. They need to answer to the people. There are many open questions. The Imam would be disheartened with today’s events. He was very sensitive to the handling of the country’s assets. What would his response be if he knew the extent to which these assets are being destroyed?

The Imam was a leader who paid attention to the lives of our people.  He was kind and compassionate. He believed in their rights.  He was against willfulness and never allowed one person to infringe upon the privacy of another. If I had more time, I would tell you more about the way the Imam dealt with willfulness, even when it came from those close to him.

Peace to all,

Mehdi Karroubi

Reader Comments (2)

[...] Karroubis Videobotschaft über Khomeini, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und die Proteste von 2009 [...]

Khomeiny will be remembered as Hitler by the people of Iran and history has recorded everything!

June 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNegin

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