Monday, September 14, 2009

Unchained letter - End of your religious tyranny in Iran, writes renowned scholar to Khamenei - Part 2

This is the translation of the second and final part of Abdolkarim Soroush's open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. For part one and an introduction to Soroush go here.

Mr. Khamenei,


The green movement has been established with determination to create a green Iran. This movement has found its green martyrs, green poets and poetry, its green literature and arts and phrases. It is the fruit of 20 years of efforts on the part of intellectuals and activists in the political and cultural spheres. You are wasting your time trying to break it with your militarism.

This lion is not one that you can escape / There's no escaping the curse of God (NB Soroush recites from the mystical poet Rumi. The two lines immediately preceding this quote are: 'You bark like rabid dogs / you deny the Koran's truth'.)

The fading fear of the people and the vanishing legitimacy of the concept of Supreme Leadership are the greatest achievements of the revolt of honor over plunder

The fading fear of the people and the vanishing legitimacy of the concept of Supreme Leadership are the greatest achievements of the revolt of honor over plunder. The slumbering lion of courage and resistance has been awakened. Neither usurpation by the military, nor rape committed by the corrupt; neither dust thrown in the eyes of humanity, nor hot air to puff up the [regime's] ragged clothes; neither dependence on animal savagery, nor attacks on human sciences (NB Soroush refers to a recent speech by Khamenei in which he voices concern about human sciences taught in Iranian universities because they instil secularism.); neither the flattery of flatterers in your pay, nor the poetry of poem-selling fools; none of these will bend the back of the resistance. Religious tyranny has been besieged by blasphemy and religion, and it is time to cut it down in the green fields of the movement. We have asked this of God and God is with us.

There is no sweeter proof of your turning fortunes than the fact that all your celebrations have become mourning ceremonies. And whatever tweaked your mirth once, now brings you tears and tremors. The universities whom you wanted to kiss your feet, now provoke your nightmares. Street demonstrations, the usual gatherings, Ramadan, Moharram, the Hajj, and mournful prayers have all become curses which work against you (NB The regime has had to cancel one event after the other to prevent protesters from using the ceremonies for their own ends).

A moral society and a government beyond religion are the beacons of our Green nation

We are of a fortunate generation. We shall celebrate the disappearance of religious despotism. A moral society and a government beyond religion are the beacons of our Green nation.

We shall cherish and esteem freedom, that same freedom which you did not value and unto which you heaped injustices. You were sold fascism and told that freedom is whimsical and permissive. [...] If you had allowed the press to be free, it would have divulged corruption and the corrupt would not have dared engage in their misdeeds. If you had allowed people to criticize you, you would not have fallen into the abyss of dictatorship and the corruption of power. The people's true words would have dispelled your daze of ignorance. They are the schools of the nation, not 'enemy bases.' And what would have been so terrifying if the doors of those schools had been kept open and you had been able to learn there?

We will cherish religion, that same religion that you made a tool of your power and in whose name you gave lessons in slavery and melancholy. You did not understand that joy and freedom walk alongside true faith [...] and that religious power corrupts both religion and power. Governing a joyous, free, informed, and nimble people is an achievement, not lording over a bound and dejected nation.

I ask myself who I am writing this for? For a regime whose luck has turned? [...] And then I recall the words of God:

When some of them said: 'Why do ye preach to a people whom Allah will destroy or visit with a terrible punishment?' - said the preachers:' To discharge our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear Him.' (Sura 164 'The Heights')

If I once aided the evil-doers out of error or sin, I ask for your forgiveness and absolution

God, bear witness. I who have spent a lifetime longing for religion and teaching religion, distance myself from this despotic regime's oppression, and if I once aided the evil-doers out of error or sin, I ask for your forgiveness and absolution. Oh God of wisdom and virtue, accept our prayers [...] and leave not your friends in the hands of enemies.

Call the winds to tear away despotism's tabernacle and call fire to burn the roots of oppression. Call the seas to drown the pharaohs and the earth to bury the qaruns (NB According to the Koran, 'Qarun was a man from the people of Moussa, but he oppressed them.') Call the clouds and the rains that they may rain grace and justice and joy and compassion upon this persecuted people, and that this barren land of the oppressors may become the flower field of the just.

Abdolkarim Soroush

Weekend roundup

A review of the most important news of the weekend.

  • Alireza Beheshti, senior member of the opposition committee looking into the abuse and deaths of protesters, was released from prison late Saturday. Beheshti was arrested at home on Tuesday after the search and closure of his offices on Monday. He is the son of iconic revolutionary figure Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, the first judiciary chief of the Islamic Republic who was assassinated in 1981. Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, visited Beheshti shortly after he was freed. The release, said to be the result of heavy backroom pressure from senior leaders, is considered a setback for the regime hard-liners. (Previous report on his arrest)
  • Supporters began assembling outside Ayatollah Youssef Saanei's office in the holy city of Ghom on Saturday evening after he delivered a fiery speech against the regime. Congregants, gathered in a mosque on the occasion of Ghadr Night, the night of the revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammed, began chanting even before leaving the premises:

    They subsequently demonstrated outside Saanei's office, chanting 'With God's help we will reach victory, death to this deceitful government!' 'Political prisoners must be freed!' 'Long live Mir Hossein [Mousavi], May Karroubi stand long!' and 'Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life only for Iran!'

    Ayatollah Saanei had already delivered a highly critical speech in Gorgan on August 12, in which he implied that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a 'lying bastard.' Ahmadinejad has filed a lawsuit against Saanei.

  • Human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was released from prison on Sunday after posting 500 million toumans ($500,000) in bail. He had been arrested in his law office on July 8. Dadkhah is a member of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi's Center for the Defense of Human Rights, and has often defended political prisoners in court.

  • Five months after arriving in Tehran, British Ambassador Simon Gass finally presented his letter of appointment to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday, in a ceremony that Raja News and Fars News termed 'a humiliation for Britain.' Gass presented his letter in a joint ceremony attended by other newly-appointed ambassadors from Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand. Ahmadinejad reportedly did not smile when addressing Gass and in response to the British ambassador's assurances that Britain did not want to interfere in the affairs of Iran, said that the Iranian people would not allow anyone to interfere anyway.

  • Mamousta Borhan Aali, a Friday prayer leader in Sanandaj, Kurdistan province, was shot and killed at his home. Borhan Aali was a supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and had campaigned for him during the presidential election.

  • The archives of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, have filed a lawsuit against arch-conservative Keyhan daily for alleging that the archives had been infiltrated by traitors. The full text of the complaint in Farsi can be read here. Keyhan daily is run by Hossein Shariatmadari, close adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his representative at the Keyhan Institute. 

  • Candlelight vigils were held at Behesht Zahra cemetery for dead protesters, including Neda Agha Soltan and Sohrab Aarabi. The woman weeping at Neda's grave (the YouTube user incorrectly uses the word 'thumb' instead of tomb) is allegedly her mother and can be heard saying, 'You had so much left to say. Your eyes say so much. What were you seeking, my dear Neda?'

    And at Sohrab Aarabi's grave:

  • Rooftop chanting was allegedly stronger than usual after Ayatollah Khamenei's bellicose Friday Prayer sermon,  according to several videos posted over the weekend: