Iranian dictators 'to free dissident ayatollah'
There has been much talk among North American Muslims about the dictatorial
and oppressive regime in Saudi Arabia, a system that is contrary to the
spirit of democratic Islam and civil society. The Saudis justifiably attract
our attention, but another authoritarian player in the region escapes
scrutiny, the men who rule Iran. They invoke divine authority as the
Vilayat-e-Faqih and deny the rights of the elected President and Parliament.
The Saudis claim the right to rule based on their monarchist lineage,
accountable to no one but themselves; the Iranian men rule the country
claiming to have Allah's authority, accountable to no one but themselves.
The Iranian men who have passed death sentence on a University professor and
have imprisoned thousands of political prisoners, seem to buckling under
popular people pressure. This report from the BBC gives us hope that some
day the people of Iran will be free of the self-appointed 'guardians of
Read and reflect.
Monday, 27 January, 2003
Iran 'to free dissident ayatollah'
Iran's most senior dissident cleric is to be freed from house arrest after a
decision by the country's top security body, the official Iranian news
agency has reported. The order is expected to be implemented in the next two
days, government sources said.
Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, once designated as the Islamic republic's
next supreme spiritual leader, has been confined to the central holy city of
Qom since November 1997.
The move comes after more than 100 Iranian MPs called for the release of the
ailing 80-year-old on health grounds. No reason was given for the decision
by Iran's Supreme National Security.
The BBC's Tehran correspondent Jim Muir quotes sources close to the cleric
as denying he had agreed to be silenced in return for his liberty. A son of
the cleric, Ahmad Montazeri, told Reuters news agency that his father had
made no deal with the authorities. "My father has not asked for any pardon
and has not given any promises," he said.
"My father's health is better than last week, but he is old and he has a bad
heart," he added.
Iranian conservatives, who largely control the judiciary, first called for
an end to Ayatollah Montazeri's house arrest last week with an article in
Resalat newspaper. Another conservative paper, Jomhuri-ye Eslami, argued on
Monday that, under house arrest, the cleric was a "substantial propaganda
tool" for reformists.
Ayatollah Montazeri was placed under house arrest after he criticised the
authority of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. At one time, he had
been designated heir to the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's
Islamic revolution in 1979. Khomeini once described him as "the fruit of my
life" but the liberal cleric fell out of favour as early as 1988 - a year
before Khomenei's death - when he criticised the execution of political
prisoners and human rights abuses.
Correspondents say that even under house arrest, he has remained an
influential figure, regularly issuing statements from his home criticising
the religious hierarchy and calling for pluralism and tolerance.
In a separate development, a Tehran court has lifted a temporary ban on
best-selling newspaper Hamshahri after the plaintiffs in the case withdrew
their complaint. The 10-day ban was imposed last week by the judiciary
because the paper failed to publish a response from a union leader to an
article criticising him.
The plaintiffs came from one of Iran's less radical reformist parties,
Correspondents say they had not intended their suit to lead to the
suspension of the newspaper, which is generally regarded as taking a
reformist, but not radical, line. The complaint was withdrawn after a reply
to the original article was published in another newspaper. Correspondents
say it is unusual for a reformist paper to be suspended following complaints