Montazeri Condemns Iranian Regime


MontazeriEditor’s Note:  Yesterday, August 26, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri issued a proclamation in response to a letter dated August 23 by some 293 Iranian intellectuals, journalists, human rights activists and other concerned citizens.  Iran Press Watch is working on a translation of that proclamation and will post it shortly.  Meanwhile, a description of this remarkable statement was published by Radio Zamaneh, which we share below for our readers’ information.

Ayatollah Montazeri, a senior dissident cleric, condemned the government crackdown on protesters after the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and claimed: “The authorities should at least have the courage to announce that this regime in neither a republic nor Islamic and no one is allowed to protest, to express an opinion or to criticize anything.”

Montazeri’s letter, which was in response to 300 activists who had called for the intervention of senior Shiite leadership to resolve the current crisis, was published in Ayatollah Montazeri’s Communications Headquarters. In it, Montazeri claims that he has urged the government on several occasions to desist from violence but to no avail. He presses on for the release of all detainees and calls the mass trials of reformists “a travesty of Islamic law.”

“Islam,” he points out, “is a truly divine religion that in it freedom of opinion and speech are evident and fully transparent…even in the acceptance of this faith, the Quran clearly states that there must be no force or obligation. The way of the Prophet and the Imams was also thus that people in sheer freedom and without any fear of any kind would express their opinions and critique any issue.”

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was a close collaborator of Ayatollah Khomeini in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and in the government that issued from it. He was set to succeed Ayatollah Khomeini but was put aside over disagreements with government excesses. He was under house arrest for five years for criticizing the government. He now lives in Qom and as a Grand Ayatollah, remains a high authority on Islamic theology and law. He has been a staunch critic of  the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

The government has tried to silence post-election protests against the disputed victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June by detaining thousands and violently putting down mass demonstrations. Mass trials of reformist leaders have been set up to parade recanting political activists and televise confessions pointing at a foreign-backed conspiracy to topple the regime. Opposition leaders have denied the charges and spoken out against torture and forceful extraction of confession in prisons.

[Posted on August 27, 2009, at Radio Zamaneh.]


4 Responses

  1. Jimmy

    August 28, 2009 8:06 am

    Sorry Nadeem, this man has absolutely NO authority whatsoever. He was Khomeini’s heir apparent until he ruffled some feathers. Since then he has been in virtual house arrest and totally devoid of any authority within the Islamic republic hierarchy

  2. sb

    August 28, 2009 11:35 am

    While the Honorable Ayatollah Montazeri does not have “authority” in the Iranian power structure, he has been consistently vocal about the ethical treatment of all Iranian citizens, including Baha’is, even when such expressed concerns were dangerous tothe safety of his person. He has lived under house arrest in the holy city of Qom for years. Importantly, most Iranians are familiar with his views and the risks he has taken to speak the truth and therefore sincerely respect him.

  3. Ahang

    August 28, 2009 12:48 pm

    Question of “authority” in Islamic Republic is a complex issue as there are different forms of authority. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri is a marja’ taqlid (source of emulation) and drives his authority from that office. What he says matters, particularly when issued in form of a fatwa (formal religious ruling), and a large segment of population follows his example and opinions.


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