|One of us
It is our duty to defend Aghajari's human
By Mani Farhoomand
November 7, 2002
According to the latest reports out of Iran, Hashem Aghajari a radical reformist
and a former hard-line supporter of the Islamic Republic has been sentenced to death
by a revolutionary court in Hamedan. He is accused of demanding a restructuring of
Shiite Islam, saying Muslims "should not blindly follow" their religious
While many of us may not share the religious-oriented ideas of Aghajari and his comrades,
and some of us may even despise him for his alleged role in the early years after
the revolution, it is our duty to defend him, that is if we truly believe in democracy
and freedom of speech.
It has become fashionable for some members of the exiled Iranian community, particularly
Monarchists and radical Leftists, to simply dismiss the validity and honesty of any
indigenous political movement in Iran with former ties with the IRI.
It's hypocritically ironic that we, the dominant secular majority of Iranians outside
Iran, tend to simply forget the fact that many of us or our parents (as is the case
with me and my generation who were born after the revolution) were at one or another
time, supporters of the revolution.
Whether it was the early years of the revolution or -- like Aghajari and his friends
-- the later years, does not make any substantial difference. What matters is that
we are all on the same boat, the past is past and the time has come for a real change.
Therefore, we should and must start to defend (not follow blindly) any movement that
preaches tolerance, freedom and democracy regardless of their or our ideological
I can see why many of us may be reluctant to support anyone affiliated with the so-called
reform movement, but we must understand that there are radical factions within the
reform movement that can have a critical role in the making of a democratic Iran.
Aghajaris, Abdis, and Nouris are the people who can assure a smooth and non-violent
transition from the status quo to a democratic Iran. Aghajari is one of us, it's
our duty to defend his basic human rights.