Tehran, 10 Oct. (IPS) “I am in a situation where Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and the Special Court for the Clergy have begun the countdown for killing me and those who oppose the politicization of religion”, a dissident Iranian arrested last week claimed.
The authorities confirmed the detention of Ayatollah Mohammad Kazemeini Broujerdi, on charges of “creating trouble for public order, endangering the lives of ordinary people and acts of violence” with using “thousands of pieces of colds and warm arms, including batons, knives, swords and light weapons” against Law Enforcement Forces.
According to Iranian political analysts, the arrest of Ayatollah Broujerdi, the first after that of Grand Ayatollah Kazem Shari’atmadari soon after the victory of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 is a confirmation of the present Government to return to the early values of the Revolution.
“At a time that the regime is facing growing difficulties both at home and abroad, the regime is choosing crackdown to divert attention”.
Shariatmadari's son, Hassan, lives in Germany. He told the Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that some 27 years after the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iran, many of the country's clerics have realized that the involvement of religion in politics subjugates religion to the will of the state.
"The political establishment forces them to accept its demands and interpret the religion in accordance with the establishment's needs", Hassan Shariatmadari says. "Most clerics have realized this, but because of the heavy price of opposition to the regime, most of them do not have the courage to express [that view] publicly. Ayatollah Boroujerdi has been able to express the demand for the separation of religion from politics very openly -- to a wide audience and with boldness. This is something that this establishment doesn't like."
Shariatmadari says he thinks Iran's leadership feels threatened by Ayatollah Boroujerdi because they are concerned that other clerics could follow his example.
“At a time that the regime is facing growing difficulties both at home and abroad, President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, on orders from Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, is choosing crackdown, every kind and against any body, to divert attention”, one analyst told Iran Press Service.
So far, hundreds of clerics have been arrested, some defrocked, other left the ranks of the religion on their own, but most of them, including some popular political or intellectual figures such as Hojjatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, a former Interior Minister or Hojjatoleslam Yousefi Eshkevari, an intellectual, or Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Kadivar etc.. are all middle rank clerics, they noted.
“First of all, Mr. Broujerdi is not an ayatollah. Then, by creating a dissident, illegal sect, he has enrolled several trouble makers in Tehran and in neighbouring cities, starting acts of violences in the capital for sometimes”, Mr. Abdollah Roshan, a deputy for security and political issues at the Tehran governorate told the Iranian Labour News Agency ILNA.
However, in a letter to the Pope earlier this year, the Ayatollah said: “I, Seyyed Hosseyn Kazemeni Boroujerdi, lead the largest independent religious population in Iran. I am subject to government’s wrath and have been intimidated for years by the Ministry of Intelligence and the Special Court for the Clergy. The main reason for the pressures, arrests, and psychological, social, and physical intimidation of me is the abandonment of politicized religion and disregard for this world…. My father was a helper of the people and provided refuge for the poor. Four years ago he died suspiciously at the hospital. The mosque at which he had prayed for half a century was immediately confiscated by the government. His memorial, which was outside the Noor Mosque at Khorasan Square in Tehran, was destroyed and its visitors were arrested and tortured in jail. They were told to never enter the premises again… My crime is that I do not want to mix religion and politics and lose my afterlife for the sake of this life….”
While Mr. Roshan has accused the Ayatollah and his followers to have organized “illegal” gatherings, arresting people in streets and torturing them” before the LEF intervention, eyewitnesses said supporters chanted slogans such as, “religious freedom is our obvious right”, and “freedom is our obvious rights… and asked for the immediate release of the clerics and his followers.
“The ones behind Saturday’s unrest were arrested. All including, Mr Borujerdi, have been handed over to judiciary officials”, said Roshan, adding that Broujerdi’s followers have used cocktail Molotov and acid against both ordinary people and security forces.
“They even (for a time) took members of the force hostage and threw acid on policemen and vandalized public property”, he said, adding “calm has been restored” in the crowded neighborhood in downtown Teheran.
All people behind recent troubles including, Mr Borujerdi, have been handed over to judiciary officials
“We believe that our nation is tired of political religion and they want to return to traditional religion," Boroujerdi told ILNA on Saturday.
He said he had written to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and other leaders asking them "to make efforts to spread traditional religion", ILNA reported.
A senior police officer was quoted as saying Boroujerdi claimed to be a representative of the "hidden" 12th Imam, who Shi'ite Muslims revere, and this prompted some people to make donations.
"This is misinterpreting religion and is sheer lies," the police officer was quoted by “Seday-e Edalat” as saying.
Boroujerdi says many Iranians have lost faith in religion because of the worsening economic situation, including high inflation and unemployment.
He argues that under the shah's regime, people's faith in Islam was much stronger. He thinks belief in God has actually fallen victim to Iran's theocracy.
"When people lose their income, they directly blame the establishment and they become angry at God", Boroujerdi says. "I've said many times that we should help people worship their God again and make peace with God. Today we are in the month of Ramadan, [but] many people have turned away from God because of repression, discrimination, and pressure".
One of the ayatollah's devotees, Hamid, told RFE/RL that Boroujerdi's views and defiance have won him support from Iranians of different classes.
"Ayatollah Boroujerdi has never polluted religion with politics", Hamid says. "He has not become involved in politics, and he has always supported the needy. He has always said, 'I'm a supporter of the wretched.' This is, I think, one of the reasons for his popularity". ENDS BROUJERDI 101006