Varieties of religious reform in Iran
February 4, 2002
Is the reform a Q case?
A sociologist who was studying the sub-culture of nurses found that they referred
to a terminal patient as a Q case: an open mouth and a protruding limp tongue (creating
a Q shape) were sure signs of the approach of the grim reaper. The shadow of moral
equivalency is cast on reform politicians as two recent ominous events brought disrepute
to both sides of the parliamentary isles in Iran. Who didn't know about the grand
corruption of the new aristocracy of Iranian religious elite?
The confessions of Mohammad Jazayeri, the pitiful, dash-mashti billionaire
however, exposed the banality of the evil of bribery in Iran where relatively high-ranking
politicians were bought off in exchange for a TV set, a trip to Dubai or a "mobile."
Would this finish off the battered and repeatedly defeated parliamentary reformists
of Iran? The right-wing judiciary that has rarely prosecuted any high-profiled criminals
without a hidden agenda surly hoped so. But the results were mixed and both sides
were harmed by Jazayeri's confessions.
The plan of making political hay out of the recent teachers' demonstrations also
seems to have backfired on reform and conservative politicians alike. Has the reform
lost touch and the high moral ground? There is no denying that the parliamentary
and presidential fronts of reform are in disarray.
But the rumors of the death of reform in Iran are exaggerated. The political reform
was a scion of the intellectual (and the intellectuals') reform. The parent is still
alive and willing to produce more progeny should its present offspring perish at
the hands of an intransigent right wing or more mundane temptations. Losing a battle
is not losing the war. And the battle lines are drawn everywhere.
A house divided
Twenty-three years after its establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a
house divided. Abbas Abdi, whose newspaper's closing (August 1999) heralded the current
right-wing backlash, paints the national schizophrenia in bold strokes. (I)
According to Abdi, mutually exclusive and utterly incompatible interpretations of
the Islamic Republic overlap on Iran's contested political map. He points out that
the mainstream of the reform movement that is formally headed by President Khatami
operates on the assumption that it has ascended to the leadership of a democratic
republic. The conservative establishment headed by the Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenie,
however, acts as though it is running a modern theocracy.
The parliament in the eyes of the reform is what it was for its liberal framers in
the summer of 1978: a genuine, elective legislator. Meanwhile, the conservative right
wing prefers to view the same institution in the light of a revised and amended constitution,
as a consultative body of the Ummah managing its practical affairs under the
absolute tutelage of the Supreme Leader/Juristconsult.
Like other proponents of radical reform Abdi holds government by election to be irreconcilable
with government by appointment from above. More moderate reformers prefer a less
black and white picture, but few would dispute that the republican and the Islamic
components of the Islamic Republic are undergoing a binary fission along the reform/conservative
The above ideological disagreement is anything but academic. The history of Islamic
Republic has fleshed out both sides of the argument. On the right, a conservative
core of mid-ranking clergymen with roots in a few seminaries in Qom (e.g., Haghani
and Bagher-ol Ulum) controls enormous economic resources including a sizable portion
of the government budget and government-owned "charitable" foundations.
In addition it enjoys political leverage (The Office of the Supreme Leader, Assembly
of the Experts, The Council of Guardians and The Expediency Council), Judiciary prerogative
(Ministry of Justice) and sheer military muscle (Revolutionary Guards and its youth
For the last ten years this powerful coalition has also waged a "dirty war"
by proxy of operatives of the Information Ministry to liquidate its enemies within
the borders of Iran and without. It also operates a variety of media outlets ranging
from influential top-secret Bulletins to the enormous monopoly of "National
Radio and Television of Iran" and a dozen official as well as semi-official
newspapers (e.g., Jomhouri-e Eslami, Keyhan, Resaalat). (II)
In the face of such overwhelming odds, what are the chances of success for the reform
movement that only controls the elective offices of parliament and presidency? The
last three years of right-wing backlash that started with the attacks of the Summer
of 1999 on the dormitories of the University of Tehran has landed the leaders of
reform in jail or on wheelchair and made a mockery of the parliamentary process.
If this last act of the reform history is anything to go by, the chances of its success
are slim indeed. Yet, the reform legislators continue their strident polemics and
defiant gestures. Even the imprisoned reform journalists continue to support a president
too impotent to keep them ๑or his own cabinet for that matter -- out of jail.(III) The main capital of the reform appears to be in the currency of
legitimacy: it has decisively won four consecutive elections (presidential, municipal
and parliamentary and again presidential) in as many years.
Reform's advantage, however, lies as much in its actual political power as it does
in the historically based national consciousness of Iranians that an idea expressing
the collective will can reverse formidable political fortunes. Those who articulate
such ideas (or master it as a Culture of Critical Discourse)(IV)
are called "roushanfekr" or "intellectual/intelligentsia."(V)
The conservative right wing enjoys an apparent ideological
continuity dating back to Ayatollah Khomeini's radical speeches, precipitous actions,
and, extreme positions on electoral, legal as well as civil matters. But given the
rapid aging of the ideological slogans of the revolution, this continuity is a mixed
blessing. By contrast, the more minimalist ideology of reform that only dates back
to the termination of the Iran-Iraq war is in synch with the massive disenchantment
of the pubic.
Reform was founded by a cadre of young revolutionaries who had witnessed the disastrous
mismanagement of the conflict with Iraq and the contempt in which the regime's eminence
grise held the publicly touted ideals of the eight-year war. One needs only to
consider the chilling effect of episodes like the "Iran-Contra Affair"
on the idealistic Iranian warriors who had been told that in fighting Saddam they
were indeed waging war against the real enemy, "The Great Satan."
By "quaffing the chalice of poison" that was Ayatollah Khomeini's euphemism
for finally capitulating to the Security Council resolution 598 for ending the war,
he also unwittingly launched the reform movement. Put differently, the reform was
born with the post-war cooling of a central core of the Islamic Republic that was
expressed in a new interest in liberal democratic ideals and a turning away from
Soon after the war many of the founding members of the radical and political reform
found each other in a think tank called "Center for Strategic Studies"
that was affiliated with the office of the President. Among the ones who were attracted
to the "Center" were a group of former radicals ranging from a lay leader
of the students that had precipitated the hostage crisis (Asghar Zadeh) to the wunderkind
of the intelligence community and the early architect of the notorious Ministry of
Information (Hajjarian.) Those who would form the press arm of the reform movement
gelled around the offices of the new intellectual "Little Magazine" of
Tehran, Kian (Ganji.) (VI)
The ideal typical member of the reform public intelligentsia in fin de siecle Iran
was a journalist who had left a high or sensitive post in the apparatus of the Islamic
Republic around the last decade of the century. For the purposes of the present essay
we define him or her as lay (non-clerical) and unattached to political organizations
that are identified with the reform movement.(VII)
1- Radical Reform: The Ex-editor
Abbas Abdi, today's reformist was once a young man who
scaled the walls of the American Embassy in Tehran in search of hostages. He is not
the first among his cohort of ex-radicals to ponder the ultimate incorrigibility
of the conservative establishment. But he is one of the first to come clean. The
number of the openly radical religious intellectuals remains small.
But the continued relentlessness of the rightwing backlash is teasing out the kind
of expressions that could lead one to believe that Abdi is the tip of the radical
reform iceberg.(VIII) He recently called on the reform politicians
to consider withdrawing from politics and thus denying the right wing the fig leaf
It is noteworthy that, although Abdi believes that right wing's totalitarian interpretation
of the constitution is self-serving; he does not claim that it is wrong. Abdi knows
that Iran's eclectic constitution supports diametrically opposite claims of the reform
as well as the right wing. Like the fabulous elephant of the stories, the Iranian
constitution is different things to the tactile denizens of a dark room.(IX)
Until, that is, a subversive like Abdi throws the switch. The radical reform deems
that the true reform can be achieved only by revising of the constitution. This suggestion,
however, is so radical in the context of the current politics of Iran that even President
Khatami, who in a recent address implicitly admitted that his office had been eviscerated
by the existing constitution, felt compelled to also disavow attempts at revising
the constitution as "treasonous."(X)
Abdi is neither a utopian idealist nor a jaded defeatist. His call to his comrades
to retreat from politics also means that they must sit tight. Despite its enormous
powers, the right wing is spent. Not only because its tired, xenophobic and conspiratorial
rhetoric is unpopular. And, not only because the once flashy anti-Israeli and anti-American
claptrap sounds hollow to a war weary, increasingly isolationist, and disillusioned
Iran. Even the fact that the puritan policies of the conservatives irritate the ubiquitous
Iranian youth is not the main reason why the radical reform is optimistic.
The Achilles heel of the theocratic ideology in Iran is that it lacks institutional
and ideological support among the clerical intellectual aristocracy of Qum. The obscurity
and eccentricity of Ayatollah Khomeini's theory of "Mandate of the Juristconsult"(XI) combined with Shiah Islam's notoriously amorphous ecclesiastical
structure provide an unsteady foundation for an Islamic theocracy or even clerocracy.
Despite much essentialist ado about Islam's political nature, Ayatollah Khomeini's
formula of the Mandate of the Juristconsult (Velayat-e Faghih) and its implementation
is puny in comparison to theocracies and clerocracies that a sister Abrahamic religion
(Christianity) has had to chance to establish from Constantinople and Rome to Geneva
Shiah Islam has surely failed to produce the theocratic structure that undergirded
the Byzantine Empire. Nor can Islam boast the kind of theocratic rigor one finds
in the impressive body of Christian apologetics from the works of Eusebius of Caesarea
(XIII) to those of Manegold of Lautenbach (XIV)
and William Dell. (XV)
Shiah Islam can not even compete with the rudimentary groundwork for a clerocracy
that would guarantee the orderly process of succession of a pontiff (e.g., Vatican's
College of Cardinals). No wonder then that the election of the current Supreme Leader
(Ali Khamenie) was neither directed nor blessed by Qum. It was rather, the result
of wheeling and dealing by a cabal of the lieutenants of the late Ayatollah Khomeini
including his son.(XVI)
It is not a surprise that the clerical Assembly of Experts that is formally charged
by the constitution to check the power of the reigning Supreme Leader and oversee
the election of the next one has degenerated to a patronage system run by the invisible
hand of Supreme Leader Khamenie.
The same is true of the Council of Guardians and the Expediency Council: they all
act as oligarchic knots made of strands of filial, economic and ideological interests.
In short, among many weather signs pointing in their direction, the radical reform
counts on the inherent instability and lack of legitimacy of the right wing, "theo-oligarchy."
2- Muckraking Reform: The Investigative Journalist
Akbar Ganji started his career as an intelligence officer
at the Revolutionary Guards and continued his career as a press attaché at
the Iranian embassy in Turkey. Later, he worked for the progressive daily Hamshahri
before joining the Kian. At the outset of President Khatami's landslide victory
Ganji and his firebrand editor and publisher (Mashallah Shamsolvaezin) left Kian
to propagate their ideas through the enormously popular and rapidly mushrooming newspapers
of the reform movement.
Ganji branched out of reporting to lecture on a topic that would be a turning point
in his intellectual odyssey and which landed him in a closed session of the press
court. He had identified the ideology and tactics of the religious right with classical
fascism. (XVIII) Although the charge was not new, it was the first
time someone living within the borders of Iran had openly made it.
Ganji's reporting was no less controversial. He started a series of investigative
reports on the "dirty war" the right wing had waged (through the agency
of what was later called "rouge elements" of the Ministry of the Information)
against the dissidents. (XIX)
A number of "deep throats" must have assisted Ganji, and his comrade, the
ex-clergyman Emade-Din Baghi (XX) in connecting the dots and getting
to the bottom of the vast conspiracy of murdering the dissidents. Ganji had discovered
the crucial links that connected the operatives to the reigning right wing clergymen
(Fallahian, Mohseni-Egeay, Mesbah-Yazdi) who had issued the fatwas legitimizing the
Tantalizing hints at these discoveries in Ganji's articles led many moderate members
of the political reform to conclude that following the cases of more than eighty
disappearances and murders would destabilize to the regime and endanger the long-term
project of peaceful and gradual reform.
Many believed that such discoveries could implicate the Supreme Leader Khamenie and
the powerful head of the Expediency Council and the former two term president Rafsanjani.
But Ganji was not about to heed the advice of his more moderate friends against rocking
the boat. On the contrary; he actually opened a new front against Rafsanjani both
for his culpability in the "dirty war" and for the involvement of his flamboyant
sons in the Iran's crony capitalism. This had the predicted result of a crushing
defeat for Rafsanjani in the parliamentary elections of 2000 and his boundless wrath
against Ganji and the reform movement.
Ganji was consequently tried on the trumped up charges of planning to overthrow the
government by participating in a public conference in Berlin and received a stiff
sentence of ten years in jail to be followed by five years of internal exile. It
is noteworthy that other reform politicians who had gone to the same conference and
expressed roughly the same sentiments either received more lenient sentences or were
exonerated. Ganji remains defiant in jail.
his writings that are collected and published in best selling books (that have been
reprinted dozens of times) Ganji has helped shape the reform's Culture of Critical
Discourse by contributing to the "reformspeak." Ganji has coined words
like "follower of a different life style" (degar-baash) as a companion
to the word "different thinker" (degar-andish.")
Words like these challenge the cultural hegemony of the clergy and the stratum of
the pious believers and help legitimize pluralism by foregrounding the second class
status of those citizens who wish to think and live by standards not sanctioned by
the state. Naming can legitimize, but not always. Ganji's giving a name to the despicable
tactics of the rightwing has gone a long way to expose the unsavory nature of these
Two of Ganji's coinages related to the show-trials demonstrate his contribution to
the anti-totalitarian language of the reform movement in contemporary Iran. He calls
the "1984" style of interrogations of the right-wing forces "manufacturing
repentants" (tavvab Saazi.) The actual practice of self-recrimination
in forced televised interviews finds expression in Ganji's "self-inflicting
TV interviews" (Mosahebeh-ye Televisioni-e Khod-Zani.) The effective
and popular appellations of "Mafia" for the right wing power elite and
that of "godfather" for the urbane, soft-spoken Rafsanjani are also Ganjisms.
The son of an unskilled laborer, Akbar Ganji is the typical ex-radical who joined
the revolution with high hopes and served it single-mindedly. The ideas he has expressed
about fascism, freedom of expression and human rights attest his genuine intellectual
transformation. Noble as his intrepid reporting at the risk of his life and freedom,
and, his moral courage in reexamining his beliefs are, he is not unique.
Ganji is representative of the fearless journalistic counter-culture that has led
the reform's campaign against the conservative establishment beyond the point of
no return. Ganji's uncompromising attitude in what was designed as his show trial
and his heroic perseverance under psychological and physical hardships of confinement
has been legendary.
But it is a sign of the maturity of the new reform movement in Iran that, while admiring
a triumvirate of jailed heroes (Nouri, Kadivar, Baghi, Ganji and Shamsolvaezin) it
does not require all its leaders to be heroes. The tolerant attitude of the public
toward the less heroic reform journalists and political activists (e.g., Ghoochani,
Nabavi, Behnood and Sahabi) and toward others who are currently under pressure to
"confess on camera" is the case in point.
3- Political Reform: The Inveterate Editorialist
Saeed Hajjarian's resume would not endear him to the
Iranian opposition in Diaspora. A radical Islamist at the prestigious faculty of
engineering of the University of Tehran in the days of the Shah, Hajjarian rapidly
rose in the ranks of the revolutionary counter-intelligence. Along the way, however,
the autodidactic Hajjarian had somehow taught himself Western social sciences and
taken extensive lessons in Islamic jurisprudence and philosophy. This preparation
and his prodigious talents enabled him to court success as a leader of the post-war
opposition. It was during his tenure at the "Center for Strategic Studies"
that Hajjarian emerged as the creative geniuses behind the ideology of reform in
Iran. His newly revived interest in to the democratic ideals of the revolution and
a resolve to fight the right-wing ideology is reflected in his influential, long
running editorials at the Tehran daily, Asr-e Ma. In these articles that were later
published as a book entitled "Republic: Demystifying Political Power" ๑
Hajjarian articulated his democratic and liberal interpretation of the Islamic Republic
and challenged the autocratic and oligarchic tendencies of its existing institutions.
Saeed Hajjarian's theoretical crusade against the Islamic authoritarianism of the
right wing is informed by his encyclopedic command of both the Islamic and the Western
Hajjarian calls those who challenge the democratic basis of the Islamic Republic
invoking the authority of God, "Kharejite Anarchists," (XXI)
thus combining traditional and modern images of violent extremism. In another editorial
he defuses the right-wing's demagogic binary opposition of the divine as opposed
to democratic rule.
Instead Hajjarian offers a taxonomy of theocracies: theo-autocracy, theo-aristocracy,
and, theo-democracy. For him Iranians need not choose between God and people as the
ultimate source of authority. The more genuine choice would be between varieties
of theocracy. (XXII) Hajjarian argues that the clerical Assembly
of Experts that is charged with electing the Supreme Leader could be conceived of
as autocratic, aristocratic or democratic without ceasing to be a clerical body under
the constitution of the Islamic Republic.
On yet another front, Hajjarian tries his very best to soften the autocratic implications
of the adjective "absolute" that was later added before the phrase "mandate
of the Supreme Leader" in order to weaken the elective offices of the Islamic
Republic. If the office of the Supreme Leader is divine and if the mandate of the
person occupying it is "absolute," then democratic procedures promulgated
by the constitution would appear to be redundant, trivial and ultimately absurd.
Some reformers stop right there: since the constitution can not be an exercise in
absurdity, ergo, the term "absolute" must not mean what it appears to means.
Hajjarian's sophisticated theoretical prestidigitations offers a more subtle formulation.
Instead of the self-contradictory formulation that defines the Leader's power as
"absolute within the limits of law" Hajjarian maintains that the absolute
power of the Leader is in essence a "law-governed" power that originates
in both divine and democratic sources. (XXIV)
Byzantine formulations such as the ones outlined above might strike those outside
of the cosmos of the Islamic republic, -- and even many of the religious radicals
within it -- as conformist embroidery. But if politics is the art of the possible,
then it would make sense for the political reform to try to operate within the limitations
of the constitution and the political atmosphere of the Islamic Republic.
The reader might recall the search for Marxism with a human face in the pre-1989
Eastern and Central European countries.(XXV) Besides, one must
note that without the gossamer web of such delicate formulations as presented by
Hajjarian the government of President Khatami and the irreversible achievements of
the reform in Iran would have been inconceivable.
In his late forties, Hajjarian has been sitting on a wheelchair for the past year
due to neurological damage caused by a botched assassination. The perpetrators who
had loose connections to the revolutionary guards were captured but the investigations
and the trials that were handled by the right wing controlled ministries of Information
and Justice were predictably perfunctory.
The right wing is openly jubilant (XXVI) Hajjarian was one the
reform's most formidable exponents. He grew up in an impoverished slum of southern
Tehran (Naziabad) where he absorbed the revolutionary of the Islamic liberation theology
of Ali Shariati and later the radical revolutionary message of Ayatollah Khomeini's
the Islamic revolution. He served the revolution at the most sensitive posts conceivable
and when he broke with the establishment he was once more at the cusp of a movement
that brought seven out of every ten eligible Iranian man and woman to the polls.
The fact that the powerful right wing regards the assassination of Hajjarian with
rapt silence -- that is broken with occasional yelps of joy -- shows at the very
least, the myopia of Iran's revolutionary elite. Elimination of a leader of the enormously
popular reform movement might postpone the end but it will also make it more painful.
The Future of Reform
A few years ago the foreign policy circles of the United States were wondering
whether a moderate Iran under the cloak of Rafsanjani was an illusion. Today's Iranian
reformers are wondering whether a moderate or at least rational tendency in the right
wing is a chimera. The answer in both cases is yes. By turning a deaf ear to the
logic of reform and by attempting to demonize the immensely popular reform movement
the right wing has undertaken a lemmings' expedition.
The conservatives' unimaginative use of the decades' old rhetorical devices to confront
the powerful discourse of the reform shows their ideological bankruptcy. They don't
seem to see that the now threadbare revolutionary newspeak is old hat for the generations
of Iranians who were born after the revolution. They do not wish to believe that
their ideology can no longer bear the weight of the national, international and even
demographic realities and that public brutalization of the symbols of the religious
reform (XXVII) like Ganji, Baghi, Shamsolvaezin, Hajjarian will
only quicken the pace of their ineluctable demise.
Ahmad Sadri is currently chairperson of the Department of Sociology at Lake
Forest College, Illinois (web).
A different version of this article was published in the International Journal
of Politics, Culture and Society, Volume 15, Number 2, Winter of 2001.
I - Asr-e Ma, 2/23/2001. To top
II - These media outlets have been effectively choreographed to launch massive anti-reform
investigative serials (e.g., Identity and Carnival of Ashoura,), show-trial-confessions
and cover-up infomercials (e.g., Lantern). A cadre of powerful functionaries
operates this powerful arm of the right wing in fluid roles of newspaper editor,
writer of top-secret bulletins, and interrogator. To top
III - Akbar Ganji's open letter to President Khatami on February 27, 2001 (www.iran-emrooz.de/khabar/ganjio1208.html.) To
IV - Gouldner adopts the term from Basil Bernstine's socio-linguistic studies. Alvin
W. Gouldner, The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class (New York,
Seabury Press, 1979) pp. 28-43 To top
V - Iranian intellectuals like their comrades everywhere else in the modern world,
have to conform to local "templates" that define who they are supposed
to be (status) and what they are expected to do (mission). In Iran being an intellectual
is a "master status" that carries significant role expectations at the
price of considerable personal sacrifices. Thus the Iranian intellectuals may be
idolized, by the people and scrutinized, prosecuted and persecuted by the state.
But they are never ignored. To top
VI - The staff of Kian had been earlier fired from a government-subsidized publication
named the Cultural Keyhan (Keyhan-e Farhangi) for their liberal editorial policies.
VII- Deserving as they are of particular attention, members of such reform organizations
as the Combative Clerical Organization, the Organization of the Mojahedeen
of the Islamic Revolution, and the Office for Fostering Unity between the
University and the Seminary are not included in the ideal type of the intellectuals
here. To top
VIII - The letter of the most radical Islamic student organization (The Office for
Fostering Unity between the University and the Seminary) to the Supreme Leader (March
1, 2001) is the case in point. This letter was so strident that the remaining reform
newspapers refrained from publishing it. www.iran-emrooz.de/khabar/tahkim1210.html.
IX - The duality of the Islamic Republic's constitution is almost as old as the republic
itself. The first Assembly of Experts revised the democratic constitution, lacing
it with theocratic ideas. These ideas hatched like so many fledgling of a cowbird
and starved the legitimate progeny of the revolution that had been conceived in the
idea of liberty. The charisma of Ayatollah Khomeini was invoked by the conservative
faction in the Assembly to suppress opposition to its revision (during the meetings
and in the process of constitution's popular ratification) unthinkable. The gradual
implementation of the weak and flawed constitution in absence of democratic checks
and balances and in the context of an authoritarian political culture made concrete
the oligarchic potentials of the revised constitution. To top
X - Hamshahri, 12/7/2000. To top
XI - Grand Ayatollah Montazeri who is one of the architects of the present theocratic
system in Iran has criticized its present applications as entirely illegitimate.
The reform Ayatollah Kadivar has recently echoed the older critique of Ayatollah
Khomeinie's theory of the Mandate of the Juristconsult first articulated by the Grand
Ayatollah Khouie. Ayatollah Khouie's response to Ayatollah Khomeinie's contentions
at the time of the latter's lectures in early seventies in Iraq was published at
the time under the title of Al-Ijtihad wa al-taghlid.) To top
XII - See Peter Iver Kaufman's worthy study of the subject: Redeeming Politics: (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1990). To top
XIII - The forth century bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius wrote the first authoritative
history of the church, not only interpreting the enthronement of the first Christian
Emperor, Constantine as divine ordination but also reinterpreting the previous three
centuries of the Roman Empire as a foreshadowing of The Holy Roman Empire. See: Eusebius,
The History of Church from Christ to Constantine, Trans. G.A. Williamson. (New York:
Penguein Books, 1989) Also see: Garth Fowden, Empire to Common Wealth: Consequences
of Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Princeton, Princeton University Press 1993), pp.
85-97. Also see: Richard Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God (New York: Harcort Press,
1999), pp. 65-66. To top
XIV - The eleventh century papal apologist, Manegold defended papal political autonomy
against the scriptural text and Christian practice by arguing that the injunction
to follow ones emperor was valid but only "if" the emperor honored the
church. Redeeming Politics, Ibid, P. 86, 87. Also see: Brian Tierney, The Crisis
of Church and State 1050-1300, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1988) pp. 127-139.
XV - The seventeenth century Puritan preacher of William Cromwell's New Model Army
who believed that the pulpit was superior to the altar. Redeeming Politics, Ibid,
pp. 62-73. To top
XVI - Recent revelations in Ayatollah Montazeri's recently published memoirs published
on the internet indicates that the disgruntled son of the late Ayatollah may have
been subsequently murdered for his lingering ambitions to succeed his father. www.montazeri.com/html/KAHTER49.html. To top
XVII - This is a category in Saeed Hajjarian's classification of the types of theocracy,
to which we will return later in this article. To top
XVIII - Ganji's lecture at Shiraz University was entitled "Satan Was the First
Fascist" (May 1996.) He was charged with defaming the Islamic Republic and tried
in a closed court. His defense was later published under the title of "Fascism
is one of the Mortal Sins." (Kian, Number 40, February 1997.) To
XIX - Ganji's gambit would have been impossible before the tenure of President Khatami
not only because of the freedom he enjoyed in publishing the results of his investigations
but mainly because it was Khatami who withstood the pressure of the right to brush
the scandal under the rug. Khatami insisted that at least four murders that were
committed under his watch be solved and prosecuted. This was possibly the most decisive
departure of Khatami with the modus vivendi of his predecessors. To
XX - Baghi who is also a political prisoner in Iran has published two volumes on
the subject of the Iranian "dirty war" entitled: "The Tragedy of Democracy
in Iran." To top
XXI - Saeed Hajjarian, Republic: Demystifying Political Power (Jomhooryat: Afsoon-zedaie
Az Ghodrat) (Tehran: Tarh-e No Publishers, 1999), pp. 659-669. On a concise account
of the Kharejites history see John Esposito's Islam the Straight Path (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 41-43. To top
XXII - Hajjarian, Republic, Idem. To top
XXIII - One of the most prominent leaders of the reform and the current vice speaker
of the parliament, (Behzad Nabavi) is quoted as saying: "Absolute mandate of
the Supreme Leader/Juristconsult is absolute only within the framework of the law,
for if it were otherwise, there would be no point in having any kind of law to begin
with." The obvious tautological tenor of this statement and the violence it
does to the meaning of the word "absolute" was hidden neither to the secular
critics of the Islamic Republic nor the right-wing critics of the Reform. Quoted
in: Asr-e Ma, Number 61, 1995. To top
XXIV - Hajjarian, Republic Ibid, 677-688. To top
XXV -Leszek Kolakowski, Toward a Marxist Humanism (New York: Grove, 1968). To
XXVI -Masood Deh-Namaki, The Retreat of the Reform started with the Elimination of
Hajjarian, Interview with ISNA, www.iran-emrooz.de/khabar/namaki1214.html.
March, 6, 2001. To top
XXVII -The subject of this article does not allow addressing the plight of the Iranian
secular intellectuals and intelligentsia upon whom measures of brutal repression
have been visited with terrible regularity. To top