Wednesday August 5 – the daily story

Velayat-e faghih ‘is not working’ — One of Tehran’s Friday prayers leaders has declared that velayat-e faghih, the concept of religious leadership that is the core of Iran’s political system, can no longer solve the problems of the country.  The pro-Moussavi  mowjcamp website reports that Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani  today said  recent events have convinced him velayat-e faghih, currently embodied in the form of Ayatollah Khamenei,  cannot work.

The comments can be seen in a video of a speech he delivered at the Jamkaran mosque outside Qom which was reportedly broadcast on the Qoran Channel. The ayatollah, a conservative member of the Assembly of Experts who is due to conduct Friday Prayers in Tehran  this weekend, is clearly addressing the Mahdi, the twelfth  “missing” imam of Shia Islam who they believe will return alongside Jesus to redeem the world. Many believe the Mahdi once made a brief appearance at the Jamkaran mosque. “Even at this time when in your absence we are ruled by velayat-e faghih, it is a very dim light, a distant twinkle. Because it is so dim, the problems cannot be solved. This is the situation of the country, of the world. You [the Mahdi] have to come and solve the problems, you have to come.” The ayatollah is no liberal: he is fiercely anti-West and at a recent Friday prayers gathering wondered out loud why people were allowed to write what they liked about the government. The activities of the reformists, he said, “just make our enemies happy and celebrate”. But he did blame the electoral laws for sowing the seeds of the problem and called on parliament to amend them. His latest comments suggest Friday prayers this week could yet again be interesting.

What is not clear yet is whether Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who at his last Friday prayers ceremony in Tehran threw down the gauntlet to the regime, will make an appearance when he is due up next week.

— The opposition is keeping up its relentless verbal attacks on the regime. Clearly attempting to show it is not cowed by the attempt to besmirch its name at the mass trial currently taking place, the Islamic Iran Participation Front said it was “extremely disturbed and disgusted by the recent unlawful, unjust events”.

The Front, which is headed by the brother of Ayatollah Khatami, the former president,  said the Islamic Republic now bore no relation to that which was set up after the revolution. “[It] can only be compared to despotic monarchies. … Unfortunately, the painful story of interpreting the law according to the advantage of the establishment and the disadvantage of the rights of the nation and the people slowly began after [Khomeini’s] death and has got to a place where today they easily rig people’s votes and, when people gather in protest in completely lawful, peaceful ways, they are called hooligans or foreign agents, are treated in the most brutal ways, and are even gunned down and murdered. With great sorrow we must declare that the ruling system that was established as a shelter and refuge for the people against tyranny and oppression, and a government that was established to teach of freedom to the world, today cannot tolerate the desires of its own people.”

The statement says the “despots” at the heart of this repression have gone so far that even their own less extreme supporters have begun to question their actions.  “The Islamic Iran Participation Front declares their regret for where the Islamic Republic has come: a place where to win legitimacy for the government and the elections, it has to submit to arranging trials which do not adhere to any law and are themselves a symbol of lawlessness and tyranny to force out of prisoners a confession to the  legitimacy of the election.” Repeating the front’s stance that the present government is illegitimate, and saying that under Qoranic law forced confessions were meaningless, it warns th e regime to “learn the lessons of history  and to return to the teachings of God and to keep open the door of reform for the system, and to remember the Imam’s words ”the measure is the vote of the people” and to make peace with the protesters.  … With utmost certainty, reaching justice or progress in the fourth decade of the revolution without the full participation of the Iranian people is nothing but a delusion.”

— Mehdi Karoubi today strongly criticized the current scare tactics used by “the coup administration”, according to Etemaad-e Melli.  He asked why those who claim to have won so man y votes have to send so many security forces to the streets and won’t even let people  pay their respects at a funeral. Show trials and militarising the country would not solve its problems.

— Grand Ayatollah Yousuf Sanei, one of the most senior clerics, issued a strong statement pointing out that forced confessions had no merit. Those involved in airing them were as guilty as those who forcefully obtained them, he said. “Eventually, sometime soon, before the judgment day, they will be punished!”  MySpace,  LAT, Pedestrian, Facebook

Lawyer’s protest delays mass trial – The trial of more than 100 people arrested in recent disturbances was delayed for two days today after one of the key lawyers refused to attend in  protest at the failure to observe basic legal requirements. The trial, which opened on Saturday, was due to have resumed Thursday, but a statement from the court today said it would now restart at 8am Saturday at the request of more than 10 defence lawyers.

But PressTV suggested the real reason for the delay was that Houshang Babaei, the lawyer representing Mostafa Tajzadeh, Mohsen Mirdamadi and Behzad Nabavi, had refused to appear at the trial to represent his clients because of the “lack of respect for the basic requirements of holding a trial”. The website said Babaei had demanded time to visit his clients in prison, access to the charges filed against them, and the provision of enough time to prepare a defence case as the very basic requirements of a fair trial. PressTV

White House U-turn on ‘elected’ statement — Oops, did I really say that? Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, today  owned up to having made a blooper Tuesday when he said President Ahmadinejad was Iran’s “elected leader”.  Speaking to reporters on President Obama’s Air Force One jet, Gibbs withdrew the remark. “Let me correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say that is not for me to pass judgement on. He has been inaugurated – that’s a fact. Whether any election was fair, obviously the Iranian people still have questions about that and we’ll let them decide that.” Gibbs’s previous comment raised a lot of eyebrows in Washington and ire among exiled Iranian opposition groups.

Earlier, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, expressed admiration for the “continuing resistance and ongoing efforts by the reformers to make the changes that the Iranian people deserve”, but added that America was still looking for engagement with Iran. “We don’t always get to deal with the government that we want to,” she told an interviewer. Reuters, Washington TV

Ahmadinejad sworn in – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was duly sworn in for his second term as President in the Majlis this morning in a ceremony where the emphasis of the keynote speeches was on a  return to unity. But there was not much forthcoming from the reformist camp, whose leaders again  stayed away as they had at Monday’s endorsement ceremony. In all, according to the Parleman News website, only 13 out of  70 Reformist MPs remained for the ceremony. Some had simply not turned up, others walked out as the President started to make his speech. Also absent were the two previous presidents, ayatollahs Rafsanjani and Khatemi, and the three beaten candidates in June’s election: Mir-Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai. As on Monday, there was not a single representative of the Khomeini family. Mohammad-Bagher Qalibaf, Mayor of Tehran, was another notable absentee.

Before Ahmadinejad swore his oath, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the Head of the Judiciary urged him “not to use force … on minor issues”. That, however, was perhaps a tilt more towards his obstinacy over his First Vice President than  to the street protests.  In his speech Ahmadinejad referred briefly to the current unrest, vowing to resist “any violation of law or interference. We will not remain silent, we will not tolerate disrespect, interference and insults.”

But he also issued a rallying cry for unity that on the surface sounded like an appeal to the discontented sections of society. Ahmadinejad said his second term would be “the start of a new age for the Islamic Republic  and a new chapter in the development of humanity” and  everyone should be given the chance to take part.  “Who has voted for whom is not the question. Today we need a national resolve. .  We are representing a great nation. It needs great decisions and great deeds. We need to take great steps. … All individuals are first class citizens … and no one should feel their rights have been trampled upon. No single individual should be discriminated against.

“Freedom is a divine blessing and gift and the achievement of the revolution. No one has the right in different names and different pretexts to limit social freedoms.”

He pledged to fight for social justice. “Special economic privileges are the source of discrimination and all sources of corruption must be rooted out.” He also promised to address the problems of housing and unemployment that were affecting the economy.

On the foreign front, Ahmadinejad scoffed at the Western countries who had wrestled with the question of whether to recognise his administration or not. Saying that Iranians should play a more effective role in global affairs, he said: “We will resist oppressors and try to correct the mechanisms of global discrimination in order to benefit all the nations of the world.

“We hear that some of the Western leaders have decided to recognise the new government but not congratulate it. This means they only want a democracy that serves their interests and they do not respect the people’s vote and rights. You should know that nobody in Iran is waiting for your congratulations. Iranians will neither value your scowling  and bullying, nor your smiles and greetings.” This section received a prolonged show of support from the MPs.

Ahmadinejad said Iran wanted peaceful coexistence with the world, but would resist any “bullying” power. “Internationally, we seek peace and security. But because we want this for all of humanity, we oppose injustice, aggression and the high-handedness of some countries.”

Finally he referred to his conviction that the day of the re-appearance of the fabled 12th Imam, or Mahdi, was not far off. “We should leave aside short-sightedness. We should believe that a government of justice is around the corner. The 12th Imam: we can feel  his presence and his reappearance is around the corner. Let us believe in the dawning of justice.”

Opening the ceremony, Larijani the Speaker, also called for strengthened unity among Iranians. He criticised the West’s “hasty” reaction to post-election events and said: “This convergence will send a message to the West that the Iranian nation will remain united to foil the enemy’s plots.”

He and Ahmadinejad seemed at pains to present a friendly relationship, with Ahmadinejad calling the Speaker his brother and Larijani hailing the inauguration as a new chapter in Iran’s history. But the Speaker called on the President  to follow a legal path and consult with the “elite” in making his plans for the future. “The Majlis will follow up the guidelines of [Ayatollah Khamenei] and places interaction with the government as its priority.”

Clashes near Majlis — Police and basij militia fought sporadic battles with demonstrators during and after the swearing-in of President Ahmadinejad yesterday. State television said 5,000 security officers had been drafted in for the occasion and, not surprisingly, their presence was at its heaviest around the Majlis.

Ahmad Reza Radan , Iran’s Deputy Police Chief, said the ceremony was held in full “tranquility and security. … In spite of the vast propaganda by satellite channels and foreign media for a gathering in front of the parliament building, no illegal gathering was held there.” Strictly speaking he was right. Officials held fast against demonstrators trying to get near the building, but some clashes were reported in Baherestan Square which the Majlis overlooks. Helicopters flew overhead and access to mobile phones was cut, while nearby metro stations were temporarily closed. In surrounding streets demonstrators were reportedly attacked with batons, pepper spray and tear gas. Witnesses spoke of many arrests. As usual it was difficult to built up a coherent picture of what happened, but trouble was reported at Baherestan Square and many reports spoke of a large number of demonstrators gathered at the bazaar.

To kiss, or not to kiss – That was the question posed for President Amadinejad this week. Should he for instance, kiss the Supreme Leader at his endorsement ceremony on Monday?

embr4

Ah well no, you see this is where we get to see how those nasty plotting enemy hacks of the western imperialist press try to besmirch the heavenly purity of the Islamic regime by falsely claiming the President was snubbing Khamenei in an exceptionally frosty embrace. The truth of the matter, of course, is much different and God be praised I can bring it to you here. Our poor President  had the flu, or a cold, or somesuch nose-blocking awfulness that meant, of course, he didn’t want to smear his germs all over the dear  leader – just his shoulder.

So that’s sorted then. But hang on a minute, what’s this?

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Fast forward a day to Tuesday and here is our President, looking fresh as a daisy and basking in the glory of welcoming a world leader to Iran and – giving him a very warm embrace. Well, you have to admit Sultan Qaboos of Oman is kinda cute, and he obviously keeps his facial hair a lot more kempt than the ayatollah. And maybe, in  reality, this is a way of Iran demonstrating its superiority over other states, in that the Sultan does not qualify for the same medical sensitivities as Iran’s Supreme Leader.

But then, quite clearly, neither does Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Sahroudi, the Head of Iran’s Judiciary, who got as big a hug as they come at today’s swearing in ceremony at the Majlis.

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Let’s just hope it’s not swine flu or the President is surely going to find himself in deep trouble.

Rafsanjani allies call for compromise – On the eve of the inauguration of President Ahmadinejad for a second term, the Executives of Construction party, which has close links to Ayatollah Rafsanjani, issued a plea to the country’s leadership to put its “anger” over the current situation to one side and join in seeking a solution to the current political impasse. Although decrying the mass trial that opened last Saturday,  and echoing Rafsanjani’s insistence in his Friday prayers speech on a return to the rule of law, the tone of the message seemed far less harsh than of  late and echoed calls from more hardline politicians for a return to political unity.

The statement, posted on Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s Facebook page late on Tuesday night, said it had been expected the regime would attempt to cover up its mistakes over the election by staging a trial “of the honourable and oppressed sons of Imam Khomeini and the revolution”. It said the trial was clearly organised hastily, without proper legal procedures or lawyers for the defendants, to the point that even before the indictment a long political statement was read out to the court.

“Respected authorities should pay attention to the current crisis in the country and the Islamic Republic and, instead of insisting on unsuitable positions through anger, should try to strengthen political unity and fill the present gaps between the family of the revolution.”

Pledging itself to remaining active “in the framework of the law and the Islamic Republic”, the statement added: “Returning to the law and defending the rights of the public by all the political figures and organisations is the main solution to ending the current crisis.”

The party warned that the continued detentions and “confessions” had no legal value and closing off all paths to the law for the public would cause the situation to become “more complex”. It added: “We hope the authorities return to a moderate position and prepare the basis for solving the current crisis.”

Reformist leader Mehdi Karroubi, meanwhile, said he and Moussavi would never capitulate. But in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais  he too seemed to tone down the rhetoric a little. “We will continue to protest and we will never collaborate with this government. We will not harm it, but we will criticise what it does. … Quite honestly, if the authorities had acted in a different way, we would never have had these problems, because the majority of those protesting only did so [because of the way the authorities behaved].” Facebook, Gulf News

In other news:

A total of 24 convicted “international drug traffickers” were executed in Karaj prison last Thursday in one of the Iran’s biggest mass executions, Etemad newspaper reported. AFP

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One response to “Wednesday August 5 – the daily story

  1. Pingback: Rafsanjani allies call for compromise - Why We Protest - IRAN

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