Monday July 13 – the daily story

Rise up, green wave! — That is the invocation of this announcement of  the big march planned for Friday to coincide with the Friday prayers ceremony being led by Ayatollah Rafsanjani. Apparently posted by Mir-Hossein Moussavi on his Facebook page, it declares “Rise up green wave … there is another heroic battle on the way”. It also declares that Moussavi and his fellow reformist Ayatollah Khatami will be present.

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‘Martyr’ Sohrab Arabi buried — Videos have been posted of the funeral today of Sohrab Arabi, the 19-year-old student who died in mysterious circumstances during the recent unrest. The videos indicate a sizeable crowd gathered for the ceremony, chanting Allah-o Akbar and brandishing red roses, one of the symbols of the current resistance to the regime. The authorities who told his parents to pick up the body from Evin prison at the weekend say he suffered gunshot wounds to the heart, but some opposition websites continue to insist he was tortured since his disappearance 26 days earlier. Video1 video2 video3 video4 video5

Montazeri attacks ‘unjust’ rule — Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Ayatollah Montazeri, the highest-ranking Shia authority inside Iran despite being sidelined by the current regime, has all but declared the rule of supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei to be unjust and called for him to be removed. His latest and most serious declaration comes amid persistent reports on websites that a large number of the senior clerics in the holy city of Qom are threatening to move to Najaf in Iraq if Ahmadinejad is sworn in as president. This would be a massive symbolic blow to the regime.

In a series of fatwas now appearing on the web, Montazeri says it is the religious duty of Iranians to remove such leaders from their posts “by choosing the least harmful and most effective means”. His statements,  translations of which are carried on several websites, pitches his condemnation of the regime in the starkest terms yet.  According to the Rooz website, it comes in the form of  a series of fatwas responding to “several jurisprudence questions” posed by Mohsen Kadivar, a leading reformist cleric in Iran and one of his students.

Asked by Kadivar about the status of someone in public  office “who has lost the required qualifications such as being just, honest, wise and supported by the majority”, Montazeri says: “If none of the requirements mentioned in this query are met, this automatically, and without any need for impeachment, brings about the de facto collapse of the government and renders null and void all decrees issued by the person.” At another point, in what is taken as a clear reference to Khamenei, he describes an “oppressive ruler” as one who opposes religious decrees “and the principles of logic and reason. … If a ruler opposes such decrees and principles, his rule is unjust.”

Questioned about people’s religious duty in such circumstances Montazeri says:  “People must remove them from their posts by choosing the least harmful and most effective means.” And asked who is responsible for identifying an “oppressive ruler”, he says: “The responsibility for this falls firstly on the shoulders of the social elite, meaning intellectuals familiar with religion who are independent of government, as well as legal scholars and lawmakers and, secondly, on the shoulders of the public.”

Montazeri again catalogues a litany of in justices carried out by the current regime: “A political system based on force, oppression, changing people’s votes, killing, closure [of organs of civil society], arresting [people] 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. And, according to the teachings of the Prophet and his descendants, confessions in jail have no religious or legal validity and cannot be the criterion for action.”

At the end of his fatwas Montazeri also issues a rallying cry to his fellow clergymen not to be afraid to speak out and to follow the example of the Imams who fought for social justice to the death: “God expects the learned people, especially those who are informed about religion, not to be silent about oppression. Of course, taking action entails paying a heavy price, but it will also be rewarded greatly”

Montazeri’s most serious attack yet on the leadership comes amid unconfirmed but persistent reports of high alarm in the religious city of Qom over the consolidation of power by the group around Khamenei since the election.  Many posts are now claiming that senior clerical figures in the city have threatened to move en masse to Najaf, Shia Islam’s holiest site in neighbouring Iraq, which is the home of the most senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani. Such a move would be of huge symbolic significance in stripping Khamenei of his religious authority – not least because it is where Khomeini spent 12 years plotting against the Shah after his exile from Iran in 1964 – and would leave the clergy far more freedom to attack openly his activities. Rooz, Tehran Bureau

Reform group condemns ‘coup’ — The Mujahedin  of the Islamic Revolution Organisation, part of the reform movement backing Mir-Hossein Moussavi, has declared that Iran is facing a full-scale coup d’etat and demanded the immediate release of all those arrested in the recent unrest. The group’s statement, carried in Persian and English on Moussavi’s Facebook site, includes a list of names of leading reformist figures who have been detained, including Behzad Nabavi, one of the organisation’s founders. Nabavi, it says, has proved his revolutionary credentials “in the torture chambers and dungeons of the pre-revolution dictator regime and is one of the distinguished personnel and managers of the post-revolution Islamic Republic. … Now they have imprisoned him only for the crime of accompanying people, supporting Mir-Hossein Moussavi and acting dedicatedly for the democratic victory of the people’s elected candidate. ”

The statement says the election was not merely an engineered fraud but a premeditated “full-scale coup d’etat”, and details the oppressive measures that have followed: “Disconnecting communication lines and stopping the circulation of non-governmental information; the obvious and total censorship of all written, visual and audio media; creating an “extraordinary” situation and establishing a kind of undeclared military curfew in Tehran and other cities;  staging obsolete and outdated confessions and television shows; attacking gatherings and even meetings of university scholars behind closed doors; extensive and illegal detention of people from all social classes among the supporters of reformist candidates who were opposed to the fraud – political and party figures, students and professors, journalists, lawyers, artists, human rights and women rights activists – only for the ‘crime’ of supporting Mr Mousavi and Mr Karoubi and practising their inalienable and legal right of having peaceful, lawful and civic demonstrations against the theft of the nation’s electoral votes.”

The statement asks why the crackdown was necessary if the elections were really free and fair. “What was the need for suppression and arrests? What was the need for violence against people peacefully … exercising their legal right to protest …? What was the need to open fire on people, and for the armed forces and the plainclothes militia to destroy public property and lay the blame on the millions of people whose culture and civility in their quiet and peaceful rallies have amazed the world? What was the need for assigning censors to [newspapers], disconnecting mobile phones and short messaging services, etc.? … Only those who have staged a coup see themselves with no need to respect the most evident rights of the people and to respect the most obvious principals and articles of the law.”

In a direct attack on Ahmadinejad, the organisation says the election aftermath “has proven that the totalitarians’ candidate not only has had all the illegal organisational, political, media and cyber support to defeat the rival candidates and to illegitimately and illegally seize power ,but also has the ability to imprison party [figures] and advocates supporting the rival candidates and to put them under all kinds of pressure without any regard for the principles expressed in the constitution and the articles of ordinary law.”

The statement concludes by denouncing all the instances of injustice and oppression. It “considers the ruling military and security forces and Mr Ahmadinejad himself responsible for safeguarding their well-being and lives, and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all electoral and political detainees and prisoners.” Read the full statement

In other news

Iranian websites say Iran’s state broadcaster has suffered a significant drop in advertising revenue as a result of the unrest. Tehran Bureau, quoting two Persian language sites, said several companies “have reportedly either cancelled or not renewed their contracts to broadcast their commercials”. Tehran Bureau

The US has urged Iran to free Kian Tajbakhsh, the Iranian-American social scientist arrested last week. The State Department said it was  “deeply concerned”, but made no reference to reports that his case was tied to that of  Hossein Rassam, the  detained Iranian employee of the British embassy in Tehran. It also raised the cases of  another Iranian-American, Esha Momeni, who is barred from leaving Iran, and  Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent missing in Iran since 2007. Washington TV

Iran is slowing down manufacture of the Shehab-3 surface missile in favour of mass production of the more accurate two-stage 2,000-kilometer range Sejil II ballistic missile powered with solid fuel, which was successfully tested on May 20, the Israeli website Debka reports, quoting military and Iranian sources. Debka.com

Reporters without borders has expressed growing concern about the crackdown on journalists and bloggers in Iran and says 41 journalists are currently in prison. Washington TV

A blog on the npr.org website suggests immigration officers at Tehran airport  are checking the Facebook sites of passengers and taking a note of any friends found there (as an intimidatory gesture?). npr.org

A second dust storm is heading from  Iraq towards Iran, officials have warned. PressTV

Two state banks, Saderat and Tejerat, will each float two blocks of 5% company shares on the Tehran stock exchange by Thursday, the exchange has announced. Tehran Times

In what some might say is a spectacular case of carrying coals to Newscastle, Turkmenistan has reached an agreement to boost natural gas sales to Iran by 8 billion cubic meters per year to 14 billion cu m, the Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry said. Although Iran sits on some of the world’s largest gas resverrves, it has fallen behind in its programmes to develop them. Novosti

And finally: I cannot resist passing on this splendid example of the rich Iranian sense of humour. Sorry if it’s a bit old, but I’ve only heard it and couldn’t stop laughing for ages.

Six months after Khomeini’s death and the appointment of Khamenei as Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Rafsanjani has a dream in which Khomeini appears before him. “For goodness sake Hashemi,” says the glowing eminence, “what on earth posessed you to pick that idiot Khamenei?”

“But your Supreme Holiness,” splutters Rafsanjani, “because that’s what you wanted. Don’t you remember? We were all gathered round your bed, you with your oxygen mask on, and I asked you who you wished to replace you. You were clearly struggling and close to your unfortunate demise, but you were saying ‘Kha… ” “Kha…” before you suddenly expired. So I looked round the room and the only one there who had a name starting with Kha was Khamenei. So I fixed it for him to win.”

“You complete fool,” rasped the holy vision. “What I was trying to say was ‘Kharkosteh (a very rude word about one’s sister), get your foot off my oxygen tube!”


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