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As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at http://wwwdamavandsafa.blogspot.com

Leader Must Be Open To Criticism, Says Iranian Journalist

Published Tuesday, April 17, 2007



Paris, 17 April (IPS) For the first time since the start of the crisis over the controversial Iranian nuclear activities, a journalist has called on the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i to allow an open debate on the sensitive issue.

“Anyway, the reality is that many Iranians have different analysis than that of the leader concerning the situation of the country and the ongoing nuclear crisis and are literally afraid about the future. Must they hide their fear? And if not, must they be attacked by the honorable Intelligence Minister?”, asked Mr. Ahmad Zeydabadi, an independent journalist close to the reformists.

under which religious, logical, legal or common laws basis an open, public question to the leader or criticizing his statements and actions are practically forbidden in Iran?

This is the first time in many years that such a letter has been addressed to Ayatollah Khameneh’i, the powerful leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who has the last word on every major domestic and international issue and as a representative of God on earth, is above all laws of the regime’s Islam-based Constitution.

“My first question is under which religious, logical, legal or common laws basis an open, public question to the leader or criticizing his statements and actions are practically forbidden in Iran?”

The astonishing “question” was put by Mr. Zeydabadi in an article published on 10 of April by the reformist internet news service “Adwarnews”.

Though the article is addressed to Mr. Khameneh’i, but many Iranian political analysts think that the target is the fanatic President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, the man responsible for having transformed the nuclear issue into a national affair, forbidding the press, the Majles (Parliament), experts and scholars from debating this vital question.

“Why, in the opinion of the leader, an Iranian can not have an analysis different of him concerning the conditions and situation of the country? And if he has, why he should not have the right to express it? If an Iranian thinks that the nation is in danger and he is worried about the future, shall he be accused as an agent of the enemy?”, Mr. Zeydabadi asks, referring to his imprisonment for articles he wrote questioning the importance for Iran of having a nuclear technology at the cost of national survival.

The letter was written at a time that many insiders think that Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad might have crossed the regime’s “red line”, in overstepping on the prerogatives of the leader.

“Ahmadi Nezhad’s latest declarations and provocations is starting to frightening the highest ranking officials, including the regime’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i”, one well informed source told Iran Press Service, adding: “It seems his last sorties, that he has thrown out of the Iranian nuclear train the rear gear and the brakes in the one hand and bestowing medals to the revolutionary guard officer that oversaw the seizure of the British sailors were the drops that over pours the cup of water”.

In fact, only the leader, as the supreme commander of all Iranian Armed Forces can give merit medals to the military personnel. The same, he is the only one who can grant pardon to prisoners, not the president.

“In my view, in a problem with the dimensions of the nuclear crisis, the final decision belongs to all Iranians and in order to take their decision, Iranians needs to hear the views of all the experts and analysts in a serene atmosphere. Does the leader agree?”, the journalist stressed.

A day after the publication of this unprecedented article, more than 100 lawmakers of both the reformist minority and the conservative majority met with former reformist president, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami while another group was meeting former Majles Speaker Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi, now the leader of the pro reform National Confidence Party.

Iranian highest-ranking decision makers are seriously thinking about removing the fanatical train driver before the wild machine kills everyone on board, according to highly informed sources in Tehran.

The “inner” opposition to Ahmadi Nezhad is conducted by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the regime’s virtual number two man, conducting a troika made by himself, Mr. Karroubi, the leader of the pro-reform E’temad Melli (National Confidence) Party and Mr. Khatami, insiders said.

“For the first time, Iranian state-owned, leader-controlled Voice and Visage (Radio and Television) reported Mr. Khatami’s visits abroad, including his meetings with the leaders and personalities of the countries he visits”, one journalist noted, adding that “this is an important signal, because generally, Khatami’s activities were ignored by Radio and Television reported only by what remains of Iranian independent and pro-reform newspapers and internet sites and some semi-independent news agencies like the ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency)”.

Leader Must Be Open To Criticism, Says Iranian Journalist-Body-3

In a very recent visit to Egypt, Mr. Khatami met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and stressed on the possibilities of resuming relations between Tehran and Cairo, which were cut immediately after the victory of the Islamic Republic on order of Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini aimed at punishing Egypt that had recognised Israel.

“Why Iranian security and judiciary officials of the regime are so intolerant about the slightest direct or indirect hint in people’s articles concerning the leader’s positions, putting that much pressures on them, acting as they are blaspheming?”, Mr. Zeydabadi said, referring to the orders given by the Government to the press not writing anything against the “necessity” for Iran to be a nuclear power.

One day after the publication of the letter, the Intelligence Ministry increased its pressures over dissidents, with the Minister saying: “For us, a person has not indulge in active espionage activity to be charged as a spy, it suffice that he undermines national unity” and accused women, students and teachers as “tools of the enemy” for materializing a “soft revolution” in Iran.

As a result, in the past days, the regime has arrested hundreds of striking teachers, protesting students and woman campaigning for equal rights.

Why, in the opinion of the leader, an Iranian can not have an analysis different of him concerning the conditions and situation of the country?

Here are some large excerpts from the letter

 

“I don’t want to argue about the importance or futility of possessing nuclear fuel or its impact on the progress of the nation. Let’s take it as granted that whatever our officials say about the strategic importance of nuclear fuel is totally correct, but in my opinion, the main question is at which price? In the order of the priorities of each nation, the most important and vital of all of them is the safeguard of the nation’s very existence followed by maintaining internal security and human and national capitals and assets. If reaching an economic or scientific goal would cost the national existence and security or national capitals, what logical justification to insist on getting them?”, he pointed out.

“In my view, in a problem with the dimensions of the nuclear crisis, the final decision belongs to all Iranians and in order to take their decision, Iranians needs to hear the views of all the experts and analysts in a serene atmosphere. Does the leader agree?”, Mr. Zeydabadi concluded.

According to well informed sources in Tehran, the Office of the leader had informed recently the press that once the long New (Iranian) Year ended, they can feel free to criticize the government’s action, including his handling of the nuclear issue.

“It is correct that the nuclear case is directly controlled by Mr. Khameneh’i, but the way Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad has handled it, causing three resolutions by the United Nations Security Council against Iran has alarmed the leadership, including Mr. Khameneh’i himself. Moreover, it is now surfacing that the arrest of the British sailors by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was ordered by Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad, not Khameneh’i, as it was reported by some western press”, a source close to the Iranian diplomacy confirmed. Ends

Here are large excerpts from Mr. Zeydabadi’s letter.

“I’m fully aware of sensibilities of the Iranian political system concerning any criticism or even simple questioning of the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and know that entering this field is crossing a red line that is active in our country”.

The reason I have decided to write this open letter is that the subject of my query is the nuclear activities that the regime has made it a national issue, one that has led to the growing isolation of Iran in the international community.

“My first question is under which religious, logical, legal or common laws basis an open, public question to the leader or criticisng his statements and actions are practically forbidden in Iran?”, he asked.

Leader Must Be Open To Criticism, Says Iranian Journalist-Body-2

From the religious point of view, we know that from the prophet down to his followers, including the first Imam (of Shi’as, Ali) and other great personalities never took strong action against those who did not agree with them and even when very angry, they always answered words by words and idea by idea, not sending the opponents to judges to be judged and punished.

On logical and rational ground, all indicates to the necessity of criticizing leaders of the societies and nations, regardless of their ranks and importance.

As for the legal ground, as far as I know, insulting the leader is a crime according to the laws of the IRI, but not criticizing his statements, declarations or decisions.

Finally, on the ground of communality and common usage, is all nations where the leaders are elected by people’s verdict, not only criticizing and questioning them is a common thing, but the citizen have all the rights to expose them to their language assault. Some of these violence can be seen on the Voice and Visage of the IRI (Radio and TV) that more than often broadcasts violent articles by the American and British press against their leaders or scenes of demonstrations and marches by American protesters against the policies of George Bush, sometimes showed as a wild blood thirsty animal on posters, without the police creating difficulties for them.

Anyway, when there are any religious, logical, rational, legal and common law against criticizing the leader and questioning him, why Iranian security and judiciary officials of the regime are so intolerant about the slightest direct or indirect hint in people’s articles concerning the leader’s positions, putting that much pressures on them, acting as they are blaspheming?

Does the leader confirm this action? If yes, on which religious of logic? And if it is not, why it is not openly stated, as it open the way for a rational debate and allowing critics the feel safe and the officials stopped abusing their position.

As far as I remember, when founder of the IRI was alive, despite the heavy atmosphere created by some of his fiery supporters not allowing any criticism of his decision, Ayatollah Khameneh’i was himself one of very few who dared to oppose the late leader’s view on the governance of the nation.

With such a record, one would expect that under Ayatollah Khameneh’i leadership, the space for criticism and questions high- ranking officials of the regime would be wider open. But not only this did not happen, but the already very few weak voices that could be hear under Ayatollah Khomeini were shut or had to pay a great political and security price. So far, I have not found any logical justification for this problem and hope that the very person of the leader or one of his close aides would provide a logical explanation.

“But my second question is directly related to a question that is becoming vital for the Iranian nation and in case a sound decision is not found, bets are that our country would be placed in very dangerous situations.

Leader Must Be Open To Criticism, Says Iranian Journalist-Body

As we all know, the debate on Iran acquiring full nuclear cycle has since quite a longtime made Iran prisoner of an international crisis and has led to three mandatory resolutions by the United Nations Security Council against Iran.

Here I don’t want to argue about the importance or futility of possessing nuclear fuel or its impact on the progress of the nation. Let’s take it as granted that whatever our officials say about the strategic importance of nuclear fuel is totally correct, but in my opinion, the main question is at which price? In the order of the priorities of each nation, the most important and vital of all of them is the safeguard of the nation’s very existence followed by maintaining internal security and human and national capitals and assets. If reaching an economic or scientific goal would cost the national existence and security or national capitals, what logical justification to insist on getting them?

The IRI insist that it does not want the nuclear technology for producing atomic weapons. If this is correct, then the nuclear fuel cycle gets an economic and scientific aspect for Iran. But the question is that which economic or scientific achievement can be valued from a righteous or wrong principle? Each economic project must be valued by an economic mechanism, by its positive and negative benefits for the country. It is exactly for this reason that critics of Iranian nuclear programmes, based on the principle of benefit-lost, do not see any value in the continuation of these activities for the time being, for the very simple reason that the negative outcome from the growing sanctions, or eventually a possible American military attack on Iran are far more costly than achieving the nuclear fuel cycle.

I’m not asking the leader to leave his view and accept those of the critics, for every one formulates his own analysis based on his own point of view and information. My question to the leader is why he insists that all Iranians adhere to his analysis of the situation and if they do not, they are, in his prescription, is repeating enemy’s declarations and according to some of the security service officials, is agent of the enemies?

Why, in the opinion of the leader, an Iranian can not have an analysis different of him concerning the conditions and situation of the country? And if he has, why he should not have the right to express it? If an Iranian thinks that the nation is in danger and he is worried about the future, shall he be accused as an agent of the enemy?

The endless repetition of both the leader and his close aides accusing the supporters of flexibility in the nuclear programme of being timid, scared and terrified is regrettable. If some one, on the basis of his courage and fearlessness, causes the death of million of people, must he be praised and encouraged?

Anyway, the reality is that many Iranians have different analysis than that of the leader concerning the situation of the country and the ongoing nuclear crisis, and are literally afraid about the future. Must they hide their fear? And if not, must they be attacked by the honorable Intelligence Minister?

Again, I repeat that I’m not asking the leader to change his views, but I ask him to also consider other’s views. We ask him to allow all views and analysis be expressed in an open and free atmosphere about an issue that concern the future of each one of us.

In my view, in a problem with the dimensions of the nuclear crisis, the final decision belongs to all Iranians and in order to take their decision, Iranians needs to hear the views of all the experts and analysts in a serene atmosphere. Does the leader agree?

In my view, the future of Iran is very much knotted to the decision of the leader about this issue and if he make the right decision, doubtless that there are many other things that he could hear as well. ENDS ZEYDABADI 17407

 

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As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at http://wwwdamavandsafa.blogspot.com


Leader Must Be Open To Criticism, Says Iranian Journalist-Main
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