By Nazanin Kamdar, Rooz Online
Tehran last week witnessed a seminar that brought
hundreds of Iranians living abroad into Iran. But its chief organizer, Esfandiar
Rahim Mashai who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and also in charge of
the affairs of Iranians outside the country, came under harsh public criticism.
But not from moderates or the president's opponents. They came as much from the
ruling faction's members. Kayhan newspaper, whose editor in chief is directly
appointed by ayatollah Khamenei himself and which is a staunch supporter of the
president wrote that the seminar was an "indication of misuse of the president's
trust." Javan newspaper, another daily that tows the official line, wrote that
"contrary to the claims of the organizers of the event, the participants of the
event did not commit a single Rial to be invested in Iran."
The seminar was held in Tehran on Saturday in an atmosphere
where even the names of its participants were not publicly announced, but merely
referenced as "Iranian innovator," "Iranian specialist," etc. Ramin Mehmandoost,
the foreign ministry spokesperson even said that he knew nothing of the list of
the invitees. The event participated by "warriors with God, seditionists,
traitors" as Kayhan's editor called them, which has cost billions of Tomans,
also presented a speech by Ahmadinejad who announced his readiness to talk with
US president Barack Obama.
During the seminar, which contrary to normal practice was not
broadcast by Iran's national radio and television network apparently for
"technical reasons," Ahmadinejad announced his readiness to talk with Obama in a
"manly manner" during his September visit to the United Nations in New York.
"When Mr. Bush was in power we announced that we were ready to talk with him in
front of cameras. They said he was uncertain. I said that is ok, and he can
bring his advisors. Last year prior going to the UN in New York I said that we
were ready to talk with Mr. Obama. This year when we go to New York to
participate in UN's General Assembly meeting we are again ready to meet Mr.
Obama face to face and put the problems of the world on the table in a manly and
free manner in front of cameras and see who has better solutions," he declared.
During his speech, Ahmadinejad also spoke of a
plan by "stupid Zionists" to assassinate him, adding, "stupid Zionists hired
people to assassinate me. What has happened after your assassination of so many
Iranians? Each Iranian is a Rostam, Siavosh (legendary hero warriors) and a
The other speaker at the gathering was Mashai. Like in his
previous talk, he referred to Iranians as "the children of Cyrus the Great," the
Great Ferdowsi and the Shahnameh (the epic Book of Kings and its tenth century
author) in praise of pre-Islamic Iranian heroes which contradicts much of the
daily propaganda of the Iranian regime. He also spoke of "coming changes in the
world under the leadership of Iranians," a theme he is said to have architected
which Ahmadinejad also regularly mentions. According to state affiliated Fars
news agency, these remarks startled some participants.
Esfandiar Rahim Mashai
Mashai called Israel a weakling state and said, "They believe
this weakling state is a threat to Iran, whereas it is nothing. What are you
doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why have you spent so much money there and got
caught in a quagmire. The reason for your presence in the region is because this
regime (i.e. Israel) is dead."
Mashai's words about Iranians and Islam were as absurd. "God has always been
worshiped in Iran and He has always been Great. This is because Iranians speak
of God in grandeur terms. Iran has always been the creator of human
civilizations. The human being was found in Iran's pure soil. As to what is this
soil and what is its nature that produces such historic figures is a different
question unto itself. When Cyrus was invading Babel and declared the end of
slavery there, and Iranians had of course opposed slavery eve before then, many
documents show that Arab people have a debt to Iran even for the grandeur of
their language. There is no doubt today that if there were no Iranians, Islam
would have been buried under the illusions of Arab nationalism," he retorted.
Mashai went on, "The right of Iranians to nuclear technology is just a small
part. I defend the right of the Iranian nation to leadership. Today the world
has accepted, and major powers too have realized that they must change their
policies because this necessity cannot be negated. Today I want to highlight
this right: can one negate the big right of the great Iranian nation and its
rightful share in changing the world?" We assert that if the world is talking of
change today, of reforms in the world, the greatest share of this belongs to
Iran and we must view this as the beginning of a new chapter that has been laid
by the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation is the leader of change in the world.
We are determined to implement change in the world. We are confident that a
better future awaits the world and the Iranian nation. We have learned from
Ferdowsi to speak in the language of epics."
This is the second gathering of Iranian expatriates organized
by the president's office in Iran, with the first one being held about 5 years
ago. This is an exercise initiated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but the media in Iran
has complained about its exorbitant costs.
A journalist residing in Iran talked on the subject with Rooz and said, "some in
Iran believe this is something that Mashai is advancing in Iran as part of his
efforts to run for the presidency. Others consider this to be related to his
views of the return of the 12th Shiite imam. Mashai is said to believe that for
the missing imam to return, global connections must be established so that
supporters and forces are present across the globe as a measure to launch the
According to this reporter, these views are challenged not only by moderates in
Iran but also by the very conservatives who support the president and the
administration. Critics say that he spreads superstitious ideas and they have
had a deep impact on Ahmadinejad himself.
Conservatives had criticized these seminars in the past.
Hossein Shariatmadari, the officially appointed editor of Kayhan newspaper last
week wrote a piece criticizing the event and questioned those who were invited
and what the outcome of the gathering would be. He also said that he did not
want to be the first to criticize this particular gathering, hoping others would
intervene and stop it. "Hushang Amir-Ahmadi is one of the key invitees and
participants in the seminar who is a resident abroad and staying at room no xx
at Esteglal Hotel in Tehran. He is a prominent counter revolutionary and a known
CIA colleague who is pursuing the policy of de-Islamization of the regime,"
Shariatmadari wrote in his piece on the seminar.
"Although the names of the invitees and participants have not been revealed,
Kayhan has obtained the names of some of the guests whose views are similar to
those of Amir Ahmadi. So the question is why have these individuals been invited
to the seminar? These are the very same people who view the Islamic regime to be
'regressive' and 'bloody,' and view the Islamic nature of the regime to be
problematic and pursue the removal of the velayat faghih (i.e. rule of the
cleric leader) from the constitution," the piece read.
Another media outlet, Javan Online wrote this: "It had been
heard that some of the invitees had made promises of transferring their capital
to Iran, but till now not a single Rial has been invested by these individuals
while some have managed to take possession of their confiscated property." This
extremist site that supports Ahmadinejad further wrote that some individuals who
were against the foundations of the Islamic republic had been invited and had
come to the gathering, while arrangements had been made to hide their identity
from the pubic, and some of the participants had come on privately chartered
Farda website which is closely affiliated to Ahmad Tavakoli, a conservative
member of Iran's parliament, the Majlis, and a former minister in Mir-Hossein
Mousavi's cabinet in the 1980s, spoke of the exhibition banners being removed in
Tehran by the municipality.
Iran's Fars news agency which is affiliated to the security forces also
criticized the gathering writing, "Officials had said that some 1,200 Iranians
had been invited to participate but only about 450 actually came. 476 had been
invited from the US, 210 individuals from the UK, 100 from Germany, 49 from
Canada, 28 from France and 15 from Sweden. The gathering cost about 3 billion
Toman in advertising" (about USD 300,000).
This report wrote that, "There are rumors among opposition groups outside Iran
that some of the invitees had been given judicial and security guarantees,
something that no security or judicial official in Iran has confirmed. Hushang
Amir Ahmadi who is an American dealer and a counter revolutionary is among the
guests who came with his wife and daughter and initially stayed at Esteghlal
Hotel but changed his hotel after his identity had been broken. Each invitee
could bring up to 4 individuals as paid guests of the Islamic republic. The
guests were also taken to other cities in Iran on chartered planes. Mohammad
Reza Shajarian (the famed musician and singer) was also invited to attend, but
he turned down the invitation."
The spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs also distanced himself from
the gathering telling reporters that he knew nothing of the list of invitees.
In their criticism of the event, Fars news agency and Raja news wrote pieces
condemning the gathering particularly the participation of women musicians and
even wrote of some middle level clerics who had left the gathering in protest,
naming one of them to be cleric Razini.
... Payvand News - 08/08/10 ... --