The Next Iranian Revolution?

Michael Collins

“What has happened to this religious system that it orders the killing of innocent people during the holy day of Ashura?,” moderate cleric Mehdi Karoubi, who came fourth in the election, said in a statement, the Jaras website reported.

“Why is such a holy day not respected by the rulers?” Mehdi Karoubi, Dec. 27 (Image right, WikiCommons)

The Iranian presidential election of 2009 sparked a major protest with accusations that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Grand Ayatollah Khamenei stole the June presidential election. The voting rights demonstrations quickly turned into a movement against the Conservative regime. Cries of “Death to the dictator!” shocked the regime. Basij irregulars moved in to supplement the police with a viciousness that shocked many in Iran.

In response, Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri, delivered withering and continuing condemnations of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The widely respected Montazeri had transformed into a strong advocate of human rights, a position that cost him the succession to Iranian leadership after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The most recent violence against Iranians came at a parade for the religious holiday called the Mourning of Muharram on December 27. By coincidence, Grant Ayatollah Montazeri died at the start of the Muslim month of Muharram:

“There is additional significance to the timing of Montazeri’s death, which falls at the beginning of the month of Moharram, a period of mourning for Shiites. And the one-week anniversary of his death will be on Ashoura, the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein which is the most significant day of mourning in the Shiite religious calendar. Opposition members had already planned street demonstrations for Ashoura and now, with Montazeri’s death, those protests will likely be much larger. “Newsweek, Dec. 21

Ironically, it was Ayatollah Montazeri who while in Qom, Iran’s holy city, accepted the surrender of the commander of the Shah’s nearby Manzariyeh army base. Opposition leader Mehdi Karoubi said just recently that the actions against citizens by Grand Ayatollah Khamenei was worse than that of the former Shah of Iran, Reza Phalevi.

The following articles capture some of the controversy of December 27.

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Leading Iran cleeric condemns Ashura deaths

TEHRAN (Reuters) – An opposition leader criticized Iran’s hardline rulers on Monday for killing innocent people during a religious festival, a reformist website reported.

World

Police said five people died in Tehran when pro-reform protesters fought security forces on Sunday, the most violent clashes since a contested June 12 presidential vote sparked political turmoil across Iran.

“What has happened to this religious system that it orders the killing of innocent people during the holy day of Ashura?,” moderate cleric Mehdi Karoubi, who came fourth in the election, said in a statement, the Jaras website reported.

“Why is such a holy day not respected by the rulers?”

Opposition websites said police opened fire on protesters in central Tehran. Eight people were killed in the capital and other Iranian cities when tens of thousands of opposition backers took to the streets, they said. Snip

This year’s Ashura coincided with the seventh day of mourning for leading dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died a week ago at the age of 87 in Qom.

A spiritual patron of Mousavi’s movement, he was a fierce critic of the hardline clerical establishment. Full Article

Image: Students fight back against police at Ahura event (Reuters)

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Religious Holiday turns bloody

by Correspondents in Tehran and Washington, DC

Tehran Bureau, 28 Dec 2009 05:17

[ dispatch ] Iranian security forces opened fire on protesters during anti-government demonstrations on Sunday, killing at least nine people and arresting more than 300 demonstrators in what marked the largest and most violent anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic since the summer, according to witnesses, opposition websites and state media.

Thousands of Basij militia forces, police and anti-riot forces armed with guns, batons, pepper gas and tear gas clashed with protesters in squares throughout the Iranian capital. Protestors fought back fiercely, at times tearing out slabs of concrete from city sidewalks and smashing it to hurl stones at security forces, witnesses said.

Demonstrations, which took place on Ashura — a religious holiday commemorating the death of Imam Hossein, Shi’ite Islam’s most revered martyr — spanned from northern Tehran through the central part of the city to include Azadi Square, Enghelab Square, Seventh of Tir Square, Valiasr Square, Imam Hossein Square and Karim Khan Street. Snip

Lines of “Special Guards” clad in black uniforms accompanied riot police to blockade and cordon off access to Valiasr Square early Sunday afternoon, said a university student attending the protests. Witnesses said police shot at protesters by Azadi Square and bludgeoned one protester to death in central Tehran. Another protester was run over by a security van in Valiasr Square, according to witnesses. Snip

Reformist media said Sunday that some police forces refused orders to shoot at pro-opposition demonstrators during protests in central Tehran. “Police forces are refusing their commanders’ orders to shoot at demonstrators in central Tehran. Some of them attempted to shoot into the air when pressured by their commanders,” the Jaras website said.

27 Dec 09 Tehran People stop a police car and free protesters from inside it

Demonstrators captured and set fire to a number of police cars and motorcycles, according to witnesses and videos posted on YouTube. Dumpsters were also set on fire and protesters set fire to a police fieldpost after pulling out officers inside, according to witnesses.

“At Valiasr and Enghelab [Freedom Square], police forces attacked us. We dispersed into nearby alleys. After awhile, we heard cheering and whistling. Venturing back out, we saw that people had managed to overwhelm the police and had captured three of them, disarmed them of (their) shields and batons and let them go,” a witness told Tehran Bureau by telephone Sunday. “Black smoke was rising from the direction of Karim Khan Street. Police cars had been set on fire,” the witness said. Full Article

Media Guide – Iranian and Iranian focused media outliets

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