Iran's semi-official Rajanews news agency has launched a review of seven of Friday sermons that the leader of the Islamic republic ayatollah Khamenei has delivered. It calls this selection the "historic" sermons. The report begins with ayatollah Khamenei's appointment as Tehran's Friday prayer leader and asserts that his appointment as the leader of the Islamic republic was in the "will" of the founder of the Islamic order, ayatollah Khomeini.
The report traces Khamenei's Friday sermons to the days when he was not yet the supreme leader and labels some of those talks as "historic" as well. "During the life of the imam (i.e., ayatollah Khomeini), Tehran's Friday prayer leader had delivered a number of historic sermons such as those on March 6, 1980 advocating patience over wrath for Bani Sadr (Iran's first president after the 1979 revolution), the sermon after the removal of Bani Sadr, and the enlightening sermon after the acceptance of UN Security Council resolution" that ended the 8-year war between Iran and Iraq, the author writes.
Of the seven sermons called "historic," one was made 40 days after the death of ayatollah Khomeini, four were made after Mohammad Khatami became president and before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the presidential office, and two were made after the widely disputed and protested 2009 presidential elections.
Successor to the "Great Master"
Ayatollah Khomeini appointed Khamenei to be Tehran's Friday prayer imam on January 14, 1979. The latter attained that status after Tehran's second prayer leader ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri decided to leave Tehran for good and go to Qom for religious work.
In his first sermon on January 18, 1979, Khamenei thanked ayatollah Khomeini and called ayatollah Montazeri the "great master" and a "great master of the religious seminaries." In that sermon he also praised the first Friday imam, ayatollah Taleghani.
In the report, the writer of the article who is the former editor of Rajanews and current editor of the political desk of Iran newspaper, the government's official newspaper and mouthpiece, then relates the first sermon that Khamenei delivered on July 14, 1989 as the new supreme leader of Iran, a sermon that was marked by the public's mourning of the death of ayatollah Khomeini. In that talk, Khamenei called himself a "humble being" who had been chosen to be the leader out of the "favorable opinion" of the Assembly of Experts. And this is the first time that Khamenei speaks of "enemies." "The nation must always be awake and preserve its unity. ... You are stronger than your enemies. ... To move ahead, we must tighten our belts. We no longer have an armed conflict; but the battle over construction obstacles is ahead of us. We must rebuild our country," Khamenei said in that sermon.
Second Sermon: Defense of the Construction Government
The second sermon by Ayatollah Khamenei that Rajanews calls historic is the one he delivered on May 8, 1998. Khatami's reformist administration was in office and the political atmosphere of the country exhibited an unprecedented level of relative freedom compared to the 80s. In those days the performance of the so called construction government of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was under intense attack.
Calling Rafsanjani someone who nobody could match in importance to him, Khamenei on May 23, 1997 defended Rafsanjani's period and calls his efforts and work "great". "Anyone who can make the Islamic society rich and accomplish big achievements has done a great service. ... Those who could raise the flag of construction in the country and accomplish great work have done very good work. They are not worldly (personally) materialistic," he said.
In defense of Rafsanjani's administration, Khamenei continued, "Worldly materialistic is someone who wants materialistic things in this world for himself, so he can move, he is only thinking of accumulating wealth for himself, using government and non-government property. This is bad. We must be watchful. Everyone must be careful so this does not happen. If we are not alert then society will lose its ideals and values and come to a point where only its facade is left. Then a test may come about, and it will fail," Khamenei said.
Third Sermon: Chain Murders and Mindless Children
The third sermon mentioned in Rajanews was delivered by Khamenei after the chain murders in Iran. These murders of intellectual, activists, writers and critics of the Islamic republic were orchestrated and carried out by some senior members of the ministry of intelligence in the 90s. The killings were exposed by the media and journalists after Khatami was elected president, who experienced a relative level of freedom. But in a Friday sermon on January 8, 1998, the leader of the Islamic republic ayatollah Khamenei called the media "mindless children" who "are trying to take revenge on the ministry of intelligence and have found a good excuse in this."
In his criticism of the media that exposed the chain murders, Khamenei said, "Some opportunists imagine that the ministry of intelligence has no power or authority ... and they are trying to undermine the security umbrella that the country has. Our officials at the ministry of intelligence have done the greatest service to this country. Sincere, pious and honest individuals joined the ministry from the beginning."
Fourth Sermon: The Beginning of the Sedition
Ayatollah Khamenei's fourth sermon that Rajanews believes to be historic was delivered in August 1999 just a few weeks after Ansare Hezbollah and the special police attacked Tehran University's main dormitory. In that speech, ayatollah Khamenei spoke of "the sedition" - a translation of the term 'fetne' that officials of the Islamic republic use to describe the massive peaceful protests against the rigged presidential elections of 2009. He describes the term as, "a confusing event in which people cannot figure out who is the enemy and who is the foe, who has entered the field and is active, and where these individuals are being incited from. Fetnes must be put off by enlightenment. Wherever there is enlightenment the perpetrators of the fetne will be neutralized." He then lists a series of events such as the creation of Radio Freedom, the strengthening of foreign radio stations, the weakening of the ministry of intelligence through suspicious assassinations, fabricated conflicts to create confusion in people's minds, the rumor of a power struggle among officials, the weakening of the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guards, the law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the state-run national radio and television network, and the strengthening of intelligence services and says these are the preparatory work for the dormitory issue.
In his fifth sermon on March of 2003 which came after the invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies, ayatollah Khamenei predicted four defeats for the US: political, ideological, media and military standing.
Sixth Sermon: Disabled Body
During the height of the popular protests in Iran after the fraudulent presidential elections in 2009 in Iran, ayatollah Khamenei came to Tehran University and delivered a speech on June 19, 2009 that Rajanews also labels as historic. IN that speech he defended the election results, threatened the protestors and cried as he addressed the Shiite twelfth imam, calling his own body disabled. He also said that the views of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were closer to his than those of Rafsanjani and finally issued a threat and an ultimatum that if the protestors continued their protests, they would be responsible for whatever followed.
These remarks came just a few days after millions of Tehranis and residents of other cities and towns across Iran marched in public protests against the official results of the 2009 presidential election and in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who himself was a candidate in the race. In his sermon, Khamenei said, "Some should know that through street activities they cannot create pressure against the regime and its authorities. ... Heeding to the illegal demands under pressure is the beginning of a kind of dictatorship."
The next day, peaceful protests in Tehran turned into the bloodiest events after the elections. As satellite and internet images showed, on that day security agents, the police and plain-clothes agents affiliated to the government, directly fired onto protesting people, killing and wounding tens.
Last Sermon: The Current Views of People are the Criteria
The last sermon labeled "historic" by Rajanews came on June 4, 2010, on the anniversary of the death of ayatollah Khomeini. In that sermon, supporters of Khamenei present at the event prevented ayatollah Khomeini's grandson seyed Hassan Khomeini from speaking through shouts and protests.
In that talk, Khamenei compared himself to Shiite seventh century leader imam Ali and said, "Imam Ali's uncompromising response is an example of how people's current wishes should be the considered in any judgment and evaluation." Khamenei repeatedly threatened the protestors and the leaders of the Green Movement and said, "The Imam (i.e., ayatollah Khomeini) had repeatedly said that the criteria for evaluating people should be their present views and actions. ... Using people's past record and performance is only acceptable if their current views are not in contradiction with their past. But if that is the case, then their past cannot be the criteria for judging them." (This is a reference to the fact the current leaders of the Green Movement Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi and Mohammad Khatami have all held the most senior positions of power in the Islamic republic right from the days when ayatollah Khomeini was still alive and range from two-time presidents to Speakers of the Majlis.)
Ayatollah Khamenei has till today delivered more than 240
sermons at Friday prayer events.
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