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It is our duty to defend Aghajari's human rights

Mani Farhoomand
November 7, 2002
The Iranian

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 leaders.

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 stand.

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.

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By Mani Farhoomand


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