Conversation with a Basiji
"Please don't consider me Hezbollahi"
By Alireza Abouhossein
October 7, 2003
Sitting in a taxi heading to Tajrish Square from
Shahrak Gharab, I was asked by the driver to move in
to the front seat since there were two other
women passengers who wanted to get in the taxi. I
accepted and sat in front beside a guy
who looked like he was in his early twenties. He had a poorly
trimmed beard and wore plain light gray clothes with his shirt
on his pants -- a
typical Basiji militia look.
We started a conversation because of a scene he
observed first and got my attention as well. A young woman was
a small beggar child and dragging him to the pedestrian side on
the northeast corner of an intersection. Meanwhile other homeless
children got involved and also threw a couple of punchs at the
child. The entire scene was
taking place in front of a police officer who was
standing on the southwest corner of the street.
guy beside me said, "I think
the small guy deserved to be beaten!"
I was surprised he said that. I felt he was the type
of person who judged a situation and established a verdict
before the facts were apparent or considered.
"I don't think beating is
something that someone may like to receive or give, regardless
of whether that child deserved or not," I said. "Because first
of all, if you look
at the girl and the child, you would realize that he's a
third of the girl's size!"
I went on that we have to
find out what was the motivation. I said I knew
that the beggar might have done something unethical or
dishonorable to the girl. However, I felt the
reasons behind the act must be
investigated to find out what made the small
guy go to such an extreme and insult
He agreed that we should refrain from any type of
violence. Then he continued by explaining that our society has
little tolerance for non-traditional acts. He
explained that he is part of the plain clothes militia who
patrol the street -- mostly to combat immoral behavior, of
He went on that a couple of days before he was
acting as a deputy overseeing the cases of
arrested individuals. A woman was brought in. He
confronted the middle-age woman who claimed she wished
to have sex with him or get married. She explained that
she had recently separated from her husband and had a
great appetite for sex.
But she was not allowed
to get married again until 3 months and 10 days after her separation.
So Mr. S. wrote a letter to the judiciary to allow
her to get
married before the legal date, and took responsibility
for any sin that may arise from his action.
continued about how he had released a couple of
guys and girls detained by his colleagues.
don't consider me Hezbollahi!" he said.
After a casual farewell I started to think that
how easily young people can be manipulated. If we just
provide them with a good education where they can
distinguish between what is being promised and what is
really acted on, then we can be hopeful that our
investment in the future is set on the right direction.
kept wondering how effective was my 2-cents! It helped
him change his mind from a simple thinking dude who
sees only black and white, to a dude being proud of freeing
people who were arrested for no particular reason than personal
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