Kadivar tells crowd Islam does not restrict freedom
TEHRAN, Sept 7 (AFP) - A cleric who spent 18 months in prison for challenging
religious domination of Iranian politics told a crowd of 5,000 Thursday
that Islam does not restrict freedom.
"Freedom is God's greatest gift," Mohsen Kadivar said at
a ceremony marking the 21st anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Mahmud
Taleqani, an architect of Iran 's 1979 Islamic revolution.
God "will never tolerate the replacement of one dictatorship by
another," he said, quoting Taleqani.
This was Kadivar's first public appearance since conservative militiamen
prevented him from participating in a student meeting August 23 in the
western city of Khoramabad, triggering several days of clashes there.
Large numbers of policemen were stationed around the huge Hosseinieh
Ershad mosque, where Thursday's ceremony was taking place, as members of
the Islamist extremist Ansar-Hezbollah demonstrated in nearby streets.
By the end of the gathering, there had been no incidents.
Kadivar stressed that Islam "encouraged human dignity, social
justice and power for the people."
"In an Islamic country, the people speak directly to God, without
intermediary," he said, paraphrasing another Taleqani quotation. "All
political power is exercised within the limits of the Constitution."
Taleqani's daughter also spoke to the gathering.
"My father was a supporter of progressive Islam. We must follow
his example," Azam Taleqani said.
Another child of an Iranian political figure, Abdolali Bazargan, said
that Ayatollah Taleqani "preached the acceptance of all forms of opposition
in Iranian society, including the communists."
"We must develop the ideas of Taleqani, who wanted freedom, justice
and unity of the people," said Bazargan, whose father, former prime
minister Mehdi Bazargan, founded the progressive Islamist Iran Freedom