LONDON 4th DEC. (IPS) 

In an open letter to the new president ayatollah Mohammad Khatami, the dissident ayatollah Ahmad Azari Qomi warns him that if the present trend continue and the ruling conservative wing which was defeated in the last presidential elections increases its pressure on dissident clerics and intellectuals, sooner or latter "the people will consign all of us to the dustbin of history". 

Like the speech and the letters to the ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic by the grand ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri, which set the unprecedented events of the past 2 weeks during which clergymen and thugs on the payroll of the ayatollah Khamenehi organised violent demonstrations against the ayatollah Montazeri and other dissident ayatollahs, those of the ayatollah Azari Qomi, a former Prosecutor, have not been published by the Iranian press though some of them have acknowledged that such letters and speeches, contesting the position of Mr Khamenehi as both political and religious leader do exist. 

Both men are now under arrest and nothing is known about there whereabouts. On instruction from the ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, both the Judiciary and the notorious Clergymen Special Tribunal are bracing itself to bring them to trial on charges of "treason, intelligence with the enemy, plotting against the leader and destabilising the Islamic Republic." 

In a 34 pages letter which was largely published by Iranian opposition media outside Iran, including the London-based independent weekly newspaper Nimroozb, as well as by foreign international radios with Persian programmes, such as Kol Israel, the BBC, Voice of America of Radio France Internationale, Mr Azari Qomi, a member of the Assembly of Experts and the founder of the Resalat Foundation, a religious organisation close to the bazaar and which own the Reslat newspaper, complains of the pressure from the security organisations on senior dissident ayatollahs and teachers at the theological seminary in Qom and disclose that most of these "despicable" acts are taking place with the knowledge, if not approval, of the leader. 

Like most of the grand ayatollahs, he also rejects the position of the ayatollah Khamenehi as the spiritual leader and chief religious authority (the valye faqih and marja? something he used to defend until recently, stating that "if matter continue in this way, the people will consign us to the dustbin of history". 

In his letter, which stirred the anger of the ruling religious who where severely defeated in the elections and is commonly described as the "conservatives", the ayatollah Azari Qomi also defends the grand ayatollah Montazeri, the "black beast" of the conservatives, as well as other grand ayatollahs such as Behjat and Mohammad Shirazi, both of them living under house arrest conditions. He criticises the prevailing, widespread corruption, for which he blames the leader and the way he rules. 

Addressing the new president, he states : "if the spiritual leader had taken heed of the religious authorities (the marjas), moral corruption would not have withered the roots of decency". 

He cites the "crimes" of the security organisations controlled by the Information Ministry as well as the illegal acts committed by the office of the leader in the one hand and condemns the Hezbollah perpetrators of the "savage and criminal" attack on the ayatollah Montazeris residence in Qom. 

Elsewhere in the letter, Mr Azari Qomi mentions the torture inflicted on the sons of ayatollah Mohammad Shirazi, saying "even if he (the father) rejects the velayat e faqih, why torture his children? Security organisations should learn from the shameful fate of the SAVAK (the Shahs security organisation)" he says, while appealing to Khatami, to abolish the special ecclesiastical court which tries clergymen only and cites instances of injustices committed by this notorious tribunal, noting the ruthless brutality shown towards those showing the slightest opposition to the principle of the Velayate Faqih. 

Mr Azari Qomi warns the ayatollah Khatami that according to the Constitution, he as the president is responsible to all unlawful acts committed by the decision makers. "Every one knows that concerning the Information Ministry, the leader has imposed his will upon you. But dont forget that, in the eyes of the people, you are to answer about all the abuses and criminal activities by agents of this ministry". 

Mr Azari Qomi reminds the new president that with more than 23 millions people who voted for him, he has the constitutional tools to call for a referendum on the extend of the powers and the role of the leader. "With their vote in your favour, our brave people have brought the whole of the present leadership under question and Im proud of it. But, dear Mr president, be careful of not becoming the last of the presidents of the Islamic Republic, for this is what may well be your fate if you do not act now to stop at once present injustices committed under the name of Islam". 

Editor-in-Chief:  Safa Haeri
Tel: +33 1 43805838
Fax: +33 1 43805825
e-mail: safa@iran-press-service.com
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