The increasing desperation in the Middle East

The news reports are preoccupied with the many families fleeing the Middle East — mostly Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan — desperately trying to get into Europe, as if Europe were a safe haven.  As is becoming evident, after so many days and so much expense in order to make the journey, they are being greeted by reluctance if not open hostility.  Europe is in no way ready to receive them. But it is evident that these peoples — Muslims, Christians, people of all kinds and of all walks of life — are desperately voting with their feet.

In a sense this pattern of migration is not new.  The western world has benefited for many years by the flight of the middle classes, the professional and educated elements of these societies.  Those folks have been fleeing the troubled parts of Asia and Africa for years.  What is new here is that these refugees are from all levels of society:  the poor, the weak, the sick, the broken.  Everyone that has the means to flee seems to be fleeing.

So what drives them out of their homes, their whole social worlds?  Here is a note I received from a friend from one of those countries.

Tragedy and pain have found their way into my every organ today. What has turned my world upside down is that I have no solution to the problems I see. I have become mute. There’s too much suffering — way beyond my comprehension. Why God punishes its people when they are innocent? It’s on these trying days that we’d like to doubt God’s existence, His glory, His powers. But as I probe into the territory of the divine, it’s then that I see Him most vividly. Suffering and pain — contrary to the conventional belief — can make us a whole lot closer to the Almighty. I’m a fighter. Even though I despise the world and all its designs sometimes, I am grateful for all that has been bestowed upon me; and I feel lucky to be alive, fully functional — with all my cognitive faculties intact. In the midst of darkness, there’s always light. And that’s why I must remain sanguine and continue to stay in the fight and forge ahead.

At some point in the course of events we can come to the point when desperation leads us, as he says, to appeal to and seek help in the notion that there is a God who is above it all, who is well aware of the messy world that we live in, and is the only hope for any sense to be made in the human condition.  If there is no judgment, if there is nothing to look for beyond this life, if there is no mercy, then there is no hope.  It’s not good enough to rail at God.  At some point we have to throw ourselves on the mercy of One who is bigger than the world as we know it and has, as generations before us have desired, a bigger plan.

In the mean time, “In the midst of darkness” we seek the light, and remain sanguine, and continue the fight, and forge ahead.

[See the following site for a helpful analysis of what has caused the movement to flee Syria: Click here]

 

 

Iran is readying for war?

The recent speech by Ali Khamenei [mentioned today only in one other place] seems reason for serious concern about Iran’s reaction to the embargo.  Khamenei is suggesting that they are in the last days, when the twelfth Imam is supposed to return and usher in the Final Judgment.  The speech seems to be an attempt to prepare the Iranian people for war.
This kind of vision about the times was clearly implied in the language of Ruhollah Khomeini when he was calling for a movement against the Shah in 1979.  And Khomeini himself was sometimes spoken of (especially by his students) as “the Imam”, a term that in that context vaguely implied that he was the long awaited Mahdi/12th Imam.  The ambiguity was deliberate.
Khamenei’s  speech is a sign of a serious attempt to muster the Iranian people for a sacrificial war comparable to that  Iran was forced to fight the army of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.  So it is reason to worry.  Iran is being seriously boxed in, and so the regime could take measures that could lead the country and the region into war.  
What I wonder is how this rhetoric can sell in today’s Iran.  Khameini well knows how unpopular he and his clerical administration is.  He is not crazy, and this administration is  much more savvy than we sometimes take them to be.
We can all regard the many signs of instability and hatred in the world, of which this is one, as reason to hope that the world leaders will demonstrate restraint and wisdom.

An intriguing letter of congratulations from Iran

Below is a statement I received today broadly distributed from Dr. … , a former official of the the Iranian government under the “progressive” Prime Minister Muhammad Khatami.  Dr. …  is notable for his efforts to create relations between Muslim and Christian theologians through an institute which he founded and directs in Tehran.  He is also notable for his involvement in the demonstrations against the government of Iran during the 2009 demonstrations, and for the abuse he clearly suffered when he was imprisoned for it.  He went into prison a portly short man and came out many months later evidently 100 pounds lighter.  The time spent in custody and the lost weight clearly discounted the statements of loyalty he made when he was finally released.  Before his ordeal he paid a visit to Washington University in St Louis as well as to Covenant Seminary, whose faculty had visited him in Tehran some months before, so he has friends here who have followed his career and taken note of the abuse he has evidently suffered at the hands of his own government, dominated as it is by a kabal of less progressive Shiite theologians.

Now he is resurfacing as the head of his Institute and making a statement of great interest because it seems to depart from the usual rhetoric of the Islamic Republic.  Here, in his statement of congratulations to Christians in their time of celebration, is a condemnation of dictatorship and even a call for the Islamic regimes of the world to allow non-Muslims to practice their faiths.

The Institute … is honored to compliment New Year to you and your colleagues. Coincidence of New Year and birthday of Christ shows that religion is the most powerful factor in human life, which has been abused either it is able to solve huge problems of humanity. so that we invite all religions to note common subjects and make dialogue about them, to solve man’s problems also to achieve the spirituality. The biggest event of world in the last year, was fall of dictators in Muslim’s countries.  Spirit of the struggle against dictatorship was Islam-willing and once again it confirmed the importance of religion in human life. we, in our turn, request of new leaders and authorities in Islamic countries to accept actual share of other religions and their faithfuls, grant them their full rights of citizenship so that all religions will be able to expand intellectuality and theism in the world, to replace peace instead of current violence.  Accept good wishes of my colleagues and me, in the Institute … for New Year. [signed] … [from] Iran- Tehran

Dr … is proposing that the “new leaders and authorities in Islamic countries accept … other religions and their faithfuls [followings], [and] grant them their full rights of citizenship ….”  This plea for tolerance of other religious groups can hardly be other than a challenge to his own government, which famously cannot bear dissent or unauthorized religious practice.  Buried in his congratulations to those of us in the Western world — I’m sure it went out to his whole address list — is a  veiled critique of his own political context, one that, as he says, has “abused” religion.  I hope he can be safe in such a place; Der …  knows by experience how painful it can be to those who embarrass a dictatorial regime.    

Another gas field discovered in Iran

The Iranians have discovered another large gas field — they claim 1.4 trillion cubic meters of reserves — in their Caspian Sea waters.  They already have the largest combination of oil and gas reserves in the world.  The significance of their discovery will lie in what they can make of it.

In any case, the discovery underlies the special difficulties the western world, especially the United States, of course, has in dealing with the Iranian government.  Even though roguish in policy it claims sovereignty over one of the most richly endowed territories on the earth.
Here is the TehranTimes report:

Iran envisages $50b investment to explore oil, gas fields in Caspian Sea 
Iranian oil ministry has envisaged investing up to $50 billion to explore oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea, the Mehr news agency quoted a member of parliament as saying on Friday. “In a recent meeting with the oil minister, he elaborately explained on plans to explore oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea,” Ali-Asghar Yousefnejad stated. Iran announced on December 11 it has discovered a large gas field in the Caspian Sea with at least 50 trillion cubic feet (some 1.4 trillion cubic meters) of reserves.
 The field, in waters 700 meters deep, lies wholly within Iran’s territorial waters, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi explained.  He added excluding this new discovery Iran has 11 trillion cubic meters of proven gas reserves in the Caspian Sea. 

[For more, click on the title above.]

Iranian Plot or another Lackawanna Misfire?

The behavior of the Iranians has been so bizarre over the years that scarcely anything that that regime did would surprise, but there is reason to wonder about this new claim that they had hatched a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States.  The central figure in this plot turns out to be “more a stumbling opportunist than a calculating killer” [NYTimes today; click on the title for a link].

The United States has a huge system of surveillance that costs billions of dollars, but for all they do – and they have to be good at what they do – they have been unable to claim many major discoveries.  Not to denigrate this history, because most of us agree that such a system is necessary in this complex world.  But the man they have accused of plotting to kill a Saudi diplomat?  If today’s paper is to be believed, this man can hardly be up to the task that he is accused of.  This guy has “left a string of failed businesses and angry creditors in his wake, and an embittered ex-wife who sought a protective order against him. … [he is] perennially disheveled, …and hopelessly disorganized.”
It is hard not to think back to the accusations against the so-called Lackawanna Six, who were shadowed for over a year because they had once been involved in a training camp in Afghanistan; as it happened no evidence of seditious activity was ever found against them.  They were however accused when one of them flew to Yemen and announced in a telegram to his friends that he was getting married.  To the intelligence community the word “wedding” in the telegram meant he was about to commit a suicide attack.  After a national alert the government quietly dropped all charges:  It turned out he did get married after all.  Suicide?  Well, it depends on what you think about marriage [!].

So now we have a 56 year old loser to accuse of a complex potentially heinous crime.  Lets hope it turns out better this time.  

Addenda on what others say:

How strong is the case against Iran plot suspect?
Jeffrey Toobin 10/14/11
==========
Wagging the Dog with Iran’s Maxwell Smart
by Juan Cole 10/13/2011 
================

*Unanswered questions over the alleged Iranian assassination plot*
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/12/unanswered-questions-iranian-ass
assination-plot?newsfeed=true
================
*Iran ‘plot’ raises unanswered questions*

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15280746

A tribute to Ehsan Yarshater

A great tribute to Ehsan Yarshater has appeared in the New York Times today. It is refreshing to see that a popular news source would celebrate the life-absorbing project of a serious and dedicated scholar. Patricia Cohen, the author, has recognized not only the significance of Yarshater’s project – to produce a comprehensive Encyclopedia of Iran – but also the example that he provides of what a life of scholarly commitment consists of. I have never met Yarshater but I have been aware of his work, and have already been mining the Encyclopedia for nuggets available nowhere else. It is worth remembering that for Yarshater “Iran” can include a wide swath of territory, depending on the time, as Persians have had an influence on affairs in virtually all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Ganges and from the Aral Sea to the Indian Ocean. This is truly a grand project.
In some university settings professors are obliged to think primarily about getting published early and often in order to gain tenure, a practice that tends to force the grand projects into a distant future. Yarshater has demonstrated that a major enterprise like his, spanning many years, can bring forth a distinctive scholarly resource that will be appreciated for decades. Thanks to the work of Ms. Cohen we are reminded that a few great visionaries in the scholarly world still exist. RLC

New York Times August 12, 2011
A Lifetime Quest to Finish a Monumental Encyclopedia of Iran
By PATRICIA COHEN
Ralph Ellison wrote for 40 years without finishing his novel “Juneteenth.” Antoni Gaudí labored 43 years on the Sagrada Família basilica in Barcelona, but construction continues today. And in the annals of grand quixotica, Ehsan Yarshater also deserves a prominent chapter.
At 53, he embarked on his magnum opus, a definitive encyclopedia of Iranian history and culture. At 75, he started looking for a successor. He didn’t find one so he kept going himself. Now he’s 91. He’s up to “K.”
“My mission is to finish the encyclopedia,” he said recently from his office at Columbia University’s Center for Iranian Studies. He knows he won’t be able to do it personally, especially since the task keeps expanding as progress is made. There are topics to be added and entries to be updated. So Mr. Yarshater has tried to make sure the work will continue by establishing a private foundation with a $12 million endowment and finally choosing three scholars to replace him as general editor.
The sheer ambition of Mr. Yarshater’s vision is daunting. With money from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he has worked to create the most comprehensive account of several millenniums of Iranian history, language and culture in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia.
“There is nothing like it” in scope or quality, said Ali Banuazizi, a professor at Boston College and a former president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.
Unlike a conventional encyclopedia, which briefly summarizes existing knowledge, Mr. Yarshater’s work, Encyclopedia Iranica, is producing original scholarship. “Most of the articles require research,” said Mr. Banuazizi, because they are topics no one has studied in much depth.
Mr. Yarshater has raised the bar further. “Our aim is that for each subject,” he said, “we should find the best person in the entire world.” With that in mind, he has been searching two and a half years for an expert to write about Sirjan and Rafsanjan, townships in the south of Iran.
Mr. Yarshater has not been back to Iran in 32 years, ever since the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran and established an Islamic republic in 1979. “The encyclopedia’s impartiality does not please the current Persian government,” Mr. Yarshater said in a low, breathy voice. A troublesome tremor that started in his hand several years ago has moved to his knees and vocal cords, slowing him down and compelling him to use an assistant. But otherwise he feels healthy. “My immune system is excellent,” he boasted.
For years Mr. Yarshater’s routine was to work late into the night, coming home only when his wife walked down the hallway from their apartment to the Iranian center to fetch him. “I don’t know many wives who would tolerate that,” he said appreciatively. (She died in 1999; the couple had no children.)
“I’ve seen him work 12 hours without a break,” said Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak,director of the Center for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, who has known Mr. Yarshater for more than 40 years. He remembers a visit when Mr. Yarshater stayed up until 3 a.m. editing. Three hours later, he was in the shower, getting ready to return to work.
Mr. Yarshater expects others to have equal enthusiasm for the task. It took him 17 years to choose his replacements, rejecting one potential successor when he concluded that the man was “too concerned about the number of holidays he could take and the number of hours he would work.”
Now Mr. Yarshater works only until 9 p.m., staying long after his colleagues have turned off their lights. When he returns home, he indulges in his latest hobby: learning Russian.
The 1,480 contributors from around the world who, so far, have composed 6,500 entries are familiar with Mr. Yarshater’s relentlessness. “By hook or by crook, he gets you to do what he wants you to do,” Mr. Karimi-Hakkak said. (Eight hundred entries out of alphabetical order are posted in an online version.)
. . .
[For a link to the source article click on the title above.]

Iranian government thugs beat a famous woman scholar, who collapsed of heart attack

Haleh Sahabi’s death was not accidental but deliberate, by a regime that has been reduced to showing its true character. The story of her death as she mourns the death of her father is told by Hamed Dabashi, Al Jazeera, June 3, 2011.

Haleh Sahabi: Our Antigone in Tehran: Haleh Sahabi defied human law to defend moral, divine law; her life writing a heroic legend of the future. AlJazeera [6/3/11]
Haleh Sahabi, 54, was a distinguished Quranic hermeneutician, a religious comparatist, a women’s rights scholar, and a committed activist to the cause of her people’s civil liberties. Haleh Sahabi was sentenced to a two-year prison term after she had joined a rally in front of the Iranian parliament in the aftermath of the contested presidential election of 2009.

While serving her term in jail, Haleh Sahabi was informed of her father’s impending death. He was the prominent Iranian dissident Ezzatollah Sahabi (1930-2011), a revered democracy activist, known and admired for his mild manner, open-minded generosity of spirit, a liberal demeanor, and a commitment to non-violent activism on a religious-nationalist platform for over half a century.

Haleh Sahabi was briefly allowed out of prison to be present for the final days of her father’s life. Ezzatollah died, at the age of 81 on May 31, 2011. Millions of Iranians in and out of their homeland were saddened by his death, deeply grateful for his moderate and caring positions, even those who did not agree with him.

His funeral began on the following day, June 1, under tight security control, and – according to a number of reliable eyewitness accounts- including those of Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, and Ahmad Sadr Haj Seyyed Javadi, an aging opposition politician – a band of organised plainclothes security forces began to disrupt the funeral, ridiculing and humiliating the attendants, and moved to snatch the body of the deceased from those who were carrying it for a proper burial.

Haleh Sahabi, leading the funeral, tried to prevent the disruption, while holding on to a picture of her father. The picture was violently taken away from her by a security agent and she was hit on her side. She fell to the ground in the scuffle and soon after died of a cardiac arrest.

The International campaign for Human Rights in Iran holds the plainclothes security forces responsible for Haleh Sahabi’s death, and has called for an official investigation. “The shameful actions of government thugs in this incident reveal a deep contempt for traditions that belong to all Iranians, and they have resulted in a tragedy,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the campaign. Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace laureate, has declared Haleh Sahabi’s death,”intentional murder”.

[Click on the title for the whole article]

The Arab Contagion in Iran

Anymore it is no surprise to hear that the Iranian government has brutalized its own people; it’s only where it has taken place this time that surprises — or rather among whom. The Arabs of Khuzestan, a minority with historically little influence on public affairs, have been demonstrating for more rights. The contagion has spread even to this group of Arabs. And again Shirin Ebadi is risking her well being by revealing, again, how brutal the Ahmadinejad regime can be.

Here is what Radio Free Europe says:

April 19, 2011
Iran’s Nobel Laureate Ebadi Warns Of Unrest Among Ethnic Arabs In Iran
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has warned the United Nations of the possible spread of unrest in Iran’s Khuzestan Province, home to most of the country’s ethnic Arab minority.

Ebadi sent a letter to UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay in which she describes a deadly crackdown by Iranian security forces last week on a peaceful protest in Khuzestan’s capital, Ahvaz.

The April 15 protest, which some dubbed “Ahvaz Day of Rage,” was aimed at protesting what participants say is discrimination and injustice against ethnic Arabs, who make up about 3 percent of Iran’s population.

The event was reportedly planned with the help of social media sites, including Facebook, by political groups and young people both inside and outside the country who are said to have been inspired by popular uprisings in Arab countries.

Iranian officials have praised street demonstrations across the Arab world as an “Islamic awakening” but themselves have used force against Iranian protesters who have taken to the streets to demonstrate for democracy and human rights.

Deaths, Injuries, And Arrests

Force was also Iranian authorities’ response to the April 15 protest in Ahvaz.

In her letter, Ebadi says that at least 12 people were killed in the clashes, 20 others were injured, and dozens were arrested.

Human rights activists told RFE/RL they have received reports that there were more than 150 arrests, including a number of intellectuals, artists, and women’s rights activists. They said the province has been turned into “a military base” by security forces who have warned activists not to speak to the media.

[For the rest, click on the title above.]
===========
To the above Sami wrote the following:
I was impressed with how Shirin Ebadi has, at great risk to her own
person, recently spoken out on the Iranian government’s oppression
toward ethnic minorities. Prior to this, I had been under the mistaken
assumption that Ebadi was inclined to avoid adopting any position on
especially sensitive topics such as this, which the Iranian government
probably characterizes as falling under the rubric of ‘national
security’. Maybe even she, as courageous and outspoken as she is, had
to be extremely careful about the statements she made on certain
issues. I developed this opinion after attending an event in April 2007
at Saint Louis University, where Ms. Ebadi was invited to speak. In her
(translated) speech, she was very critical of the Iranian government’s
restrictive domestic policies towards women, but at the same time she
was also defensive of her country’s foreign policy, particularly its
ambitions to develop an independent nuclear energy capacity and
maintain its role as a major power within the region.

While denouncing U.S. foreign policy vis-a-vis Iran, she questioned why
her country was considered a state-sponsor of terrorism when it was
U.S.-backed states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan which had supported
the Taliban while Iran had fiercely opposed them in the 1990s. The
convenience of this overly simplistic argument made me wonder whether
she was trying to balance her criticism of the Iranian government’s
internal policies by defending its international positions or if she
really did have a different interpretation than most of us have of
Iran’s support for militant proxies like Hamas in Palestine, Hizbullah
in Lebanon, and the Mahdi Army in Iraq. This seemed a bit odd (to me,
anyway).

When it was time for the audience to submit written questions, I’d
hoped to ask a fairly simple question about her stance on the
persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran (apart from
women’s rights in general). From the enthusiasm of the audience in
attendance (many members of the local Iranian community, along with
professors and students from SLU and other local colleges), I could
tell there were probably more questions than she could possibly answer
that day but I was also somewhat disappointed by the quality of the
questions that were asked. The focus seemed to be on the person and not
so much on the issues that she had come to talk about. Could it be that
the more serious questions had been deliberately avoided? Or maybe this
particular audience was not interested in the ‘boring’ stuff I wanted
to hear.

Anyway, I’m glad to learn that I was wrong to have based my assessment
of Ebadi on what I didn’t hear that afternoon. As in the past, she’s
now acting as the moral conscience of the Iranian nation to make
Iranians and others around the world aware of how minorities are being
repressed in Khuzestan. The issue of women’s rights is not a slight
one, and it needs to be forcefully addressed from within by able and
articulate Iranians like Ebadi. However, the perpetration of state
violence against ethnic and religious minorities (Arabs, Kurds,
Baluchis, Sunni Muslims and non-Muslims among others) constitute a more
immediate violation of fundamental human rights that demands to be
condemned by all. It’s truly inspiring to see Shirin Ebadi use her
international prominence to take a stand for the rights of all
Iranians. I must say it is also quite reassuring to have a question
(finally) answered in this way.

Moderate comments for this blog:
http://www.blogger.com/comment-pending.g?blogID=8473844

Posted by Sami to Vital Concerns for the World at 7:56 PM
====

One source: “It’s over” in Iran. Is it over for good?

Stephen Kinzer of Global Post reports [5/17/2010] that the mood in Iran is that the popular revolt against the government has lost steam and may be “over” as one person told him. Click on the title above for the original article, but here are some of the things that people told him when he went to Iran:

“All the interesting people I know are in jail,”

“I am very reluctant to put you in touch with people,” …

“I am not worried about you at all; it is people who visit you that may be put in jeopardy. I am not being paranoid, it is just that the place has become very unpredictable. I cannot figure out the logic of who they pick up and why.”

“We don’t like the government, but we cannot change it,” … “They punish us when we protest. People are afraid.”

“Thirty-five percent of Iranians like this government and Ahmadinejad, … “Twenty-five percent are against. The rest don’t care.”

“We can’t do anything,” … “If we do something, the police come and put us in jail. It is very tight here.”

“There are so many limitations on us — on our dress, our relations with boyfriends, our chances to have fun together,” … . “We want to take off our head scarves, but it’s not possible. All we can do is live and stay quiet.”

“I voted, but I don’t believe my vote was counted,” … “Many who voted last time won’t vote next time. I’m one of them.”

“Intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan has brought nothing but death and suffering,” … “We don’t want that. Above all, we want to preserve peace in our country. We would rather live under a regime we don’t like than one that is placed in power by foreigners.”

“What worries us is Pakistan,” … “We don’t have anything like the Taliban or Al Qaeda in Iran. Crazy fanatics are not going to take power here, but in Pakistan it could happen any day. We can’t understand why the Americans allowed Pakistan to become a nuclear power but are so upset about Iran.”

“Nobody can prevent us from having democracy in our country,” …. “It is our wish and our right. But it will take time. You cannot change a very strong government in a few months.”

These statements reflect the diverse views of people Kinzer met by chance, but they reveal some of the sentiments in place now after a year of demonstrations and brutal government crackdowns. As Kinzer notes, government brutality pays, as it has for generations past. That of course says nothing about the human yearnings for something more, something more authentically just. So the world waits . . .

Some of us perversely insist that it will indeed come. . . .

Slackman on Montazeri’s challenge to the Iranian government

NYTimes Michael Slackman’s article on Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri indicates again how conflicted, and contradictory the actual practice of administration in Iran has turned out to be. He was one of the original promoters of the concept of “Velayat-e Faqih,” the juristic guardianship, the concept that underlies Iran’s current theocracy, and was, in fact, at one time the teacher of the current leading “faqih,” Ali Khameini – now addressed as “ayatollah” although he never earned such a high level of scholarly achievement. Slackman says that Ayatollah Montazeri has argued for years that even in a religious state legitimacy comes from the people.

“The government will not achieve legitimacy without the support of the people, and as the necessary and obligatory condition for the legitimacy of the ruler is his popularity and the people’s satisfaction with him,”

Once the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini until he began to criticize Khomeini’s practice in 1988, he is now a respected voice of opposition to the current regime. “He criticizes this regime purely from a religious point of view, and this is very hurtful. The regime wants to say, ‘If I am not democratic enough that doesn’t matter, I am Islamic.’ He says it is not an Islamic government.” (Mehdi Khalaji).

He has for years challenged the abuses of power in Iran. Even in the time of Khomeini, “He mocked Ayatollah Khomeini’s decision to issue a fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie, author of “The Satanic Verses,” saying, “People in the world are getting the idea that our business in Iran is just murdering people.” It was in January, 1988, that Montazeri’s objections to a wave of executions of political prisoners and his recoomendations to the leadership that Iran should export the revolution by example, not by violence. For that he was forced to leave government.

He has not, however, ceased to criticize the government, and now his criticisms of the Khameini regime have become exceedingly dangerous to it. A recent statement:

“A political system based on force, oppression, changing people’s votes, killing, closure, arresting and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail, is condemned and illegitimate.”

He says that the Islamic Republic of Iran is neither Islamic, nor a republic, and the supreme leader has lost his legitimacy.

Dangerous words for a regime now believed guilty of stealing an election and then brutally crushing the thousands of citizens who objected to it.