Iran News ...


07/14/09

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri: System based on force illegitimate

Source: The Real News Network

Iranian Grand Ayatollah Montazeri suggests Supreme Leader illegitimate, urges people to fight oppression


Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
This past Saturday, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri issued a fatwa urging Iranians to take action against the "illegitimate political system," implicating but not naming Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

TRNN Senior Editor Paul Jay speaks to Nader Hashemi, professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the University of Denver, about the possible impact in Iran of Ayatollah Montazeri's fighting words.

In his fatwa, Ayatollah Montazeri described the current political system in Iran as one "based on force, oppression, changing peoples' votes, killing, closure of organs of civil society...using Stalinist and medieval torture."

Ayatollah Montazeri was the designated successor to former Supreme Leader Ali Khomenini from 1979-1989 before being dismissed for his objections to the "growing authoritarianism and abuse of human rights" of the government at the time, Hashemi says.

Hashemi also says that Ayatollah Montazeri is one of the most senior Grand Ayatollahs in Iran, and has consistently been one of the most politically active and outspoken.  "He has been a thorn in the regime for many years, dating back to the late 1980s when he began speaking out against the growing corruption and human rights violations," Hashemi says.

Hashemi says that while Ayatollah Montazeri is not allied with a specific political camp, "he has been a resource for reformists, for pro-democratic forces, to draw upon precisely by the draw of moral authority and religious authority that he has. So, they would appeal to him in moments of crisis such as this one for advice, for commentary."

Ayatollah Montazeri's fatwa will impact the heavily religious in Iran, Hashemi says, stating that most of the Grand Ayatollah's "influence is among those who are pious, who are religious, and who form a large part of Iran's political constituency, so I think this statement will resonate, and what distinguish it from previous statements is that it is much more bolder. He's actually drawing comparisons with Stalinism, with communist and fascistic regimes, and that's a heady indictment for the regime in Iran today."


Nader Hashemi is Assistant Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver He has a PhD from the University of Toronto.
read the full transcript here

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