Farsi Media Monitor

Bringing you the Latest from Farsi Sources


The “Shiite” creed, which is the religion of a vast majority of the people of Iran, began as an opposition movement to what was considered a coup against Imam Ali, who the Shiites believe was the chosen successor of Prophet Mohammad.

For thirteen and a half centuries, the Shiite clergy have represented a widespread opposition movement, mainly based in Iran and Iraq, first towards the Islamic empire and afterwards towards the governments that followed the empire. Throughout this long period, an opposition culture with a long list of values and traditions, martyrs and events spread roots within the Iranian society.

Until 1978, when by means of a revolution, the Islamic Republic was established, the Shiite clergy faced the same dilemma many other opposition movements faced before them after overthrowing the government they opposed: how to cease being an opposition and how to begin running the country.

In the 32 years that have passed since then, the Islamic republic has emerged as a theocratic state with many characteristics of totalitarian regimes such as those that preceded in the soviet union and in Iran itself, however never in its current theocratic form. The current state of affairs which has emerged as the Islamic republic of today is a result of an ongoing struggle between the spectrum of followers of Ayatollah Khomeini – the liberal left (reformists) and the conservative right (principalists), along with the social implications of each of these having the upper at any given time.

Ayatollah Montazeri, whose death last week sparked the largest outpour of Iranian population into the streets since the death of Khomeini himself – was considered the spiritual leader of the reformist movement of Iran. Towards the end of Khomeini’s life, when violence and violent elimination techniques were used frequently to solve disputes in Iranian politics, a rift began between the left wing of government, including Mirhossein Mousavi who was Prime Minister at the time as well as Ayatollah Montazeri, and the right wing, led by Ayatollah Khamenei, who was President at the time.

This strife continued throughout the years, the post of Prime Minister was removed from the constitution, Montazeri was later put under house arrest, and the population aligned itself with the two camps on the left and the right. As the right proved itself unable to deliver on the demands of the people, public support has grown for the left while Ayatollah Khamenei remains at the pinnacle of the Iranian state. And it is such that today, the people on the streets of Tehran call Montazeri their true cleric, representing the people against the tyrant.

The timing of Montazeri’s death coincides with one of the, if not the largest, symbolic event in Shiite history, when the third Shiite Imam – Imam Hussein – and 72 of his closest allies rebelled against an army of thousands.

The day of Imam Hussein’s beheading, or “Ashura”, which for centuries has been a day when scores of Iranians take to the streets for mourning ceremonies bearing drums, flags (many of them green) and flogging themselves with chains (sounds more painful than it really is), coincides with the seventh day following the death of Ayatollah Montazeri.

As reported last week, hooligans and tough-guys on the state payroll were sent to the houses of Ayatollah Montazeri and Sanei (another cleric on the left) and broke their house windows and harassed their families, while the car of Mirhossein Mousavi was attacked and one of his bodyguards wounded on the way back from the funeral. These actions have not gone unnoticed by the Iranian people, many of whom come to the streets in a religious frenzy every year on Ashura. The symbolic value of the day is high, bearing the message of sacrifice and resistance against tyranny, and already Khamenei is being called “Yazide Zamaan” – or the Yazid of our times – referring to the tyrant head of the army opposing Hossein many years ago. And don’t forget the “Hossein” in “Mir-Hossein”.

It is such that Ashura, which is on December 27th, may very well be the tipping point and the beginning of the end of Khamenei’s reign of power. The opposition is planning extensively for the event, as is the state, for a major showdown, in a society in which throughout history, symbols are frighteningly decisive.


December 26, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: