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Death sentence without borders
Journalists, bloggers, and writers protect yourselves!

December 12, 2006

It started in Tabriz and Tehran with the organised demonstrations of IRI’s followers against an Azeri writer, Rafiq Tagi, who wrote an article, "humiliating" Prophet Muhammad. The Azeri writer is accused of portraying Christianity and Europe as superior to Islam as and the Middle East. The fatwa calls for the death of the writer and also the person responsible for publishing his article. Another Iranian Mullah offers his house as a reward to anyone who executes the writer.

The article published last month in the newspaper Senet prompted an unsanctioned protest in a village north of Baku by angry observant Muslims and rapidly became a fervent topic of Islamic media in Iran.

In Tehran Basiji groups were gathered to chant slogans such as "Salman Rushdie-incarnate must be executed", "our war is based on faith and does not have any border". The protest actions were organised not only in Iran, but in some regions of Azerbaijan where the IRI could play its Islamists pawns. The Islamists Azeri, chanting the same slogans as in Tehran and Tabriz, claim death for the writer. They allege that he has knowingly ridiculed all the sanctities of Islam, fully aware of the consequences of his actions.

Consequently, one of the IRIs’ Mullahs, Sheikh Fazel Lankarani, issued a death fatwa on this writer said to have insulted the Prophet Muhammad. The call on Muslims to kill the "profane" writers is reminiscent of Khomeini’s death fatwa against Salman Rushdie in the 1980s, which was based on the "no border principle" of Islamic laws.

As a next step the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, refreshed an old nationalistic aspiration of pan-Iranism by threatening Azerbaijan.  He reminded the audience that the country used to be a part of Iran.  Khamenei emphatically stated "We remind Baku's politicians that today the Islamic Republic of Iran is powerful enough to realise historical claims of the people."  Khamenei admonished a crowd of military commanders in Tehran that, "We are now the major force in the region that even your master, the United States, fears."

It is true, Azerbaijan was acquired by the Russian Tsars from Iran through the humiliating Treaty of Gulistan in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkamanchai in 1828 that some nationalistic Iranians dream of winning back this country.  However, Khamenei, as a Sayyed, is a direct descendent of the Arab invaders of Iran. 

Furthermore, as a Mullah, his intimacy with his origin and Islam betrays his non-patriotic feeling for Iran. His demagogical claims for Azerbaijan simply make a mockery of his nationalistic credentials. Iranians know him for his disguised roots and hypocritical ambitions. For the survival of his Islamic Caliphate, Sayyed Khamenei (or his like) does not mind ruining our Iranian identity or any trace of our national artefact, as his Arab ancestors did with the ancient Persians.

It is clear that many Iranians (Muslims or otherwise) cannot support violent and homicidal killings of political Islam. Those who honestly believe in God or other moral value systems cannot accept the Islamists’ crimes against human beings. They loudly or silently despise the acts of bombers and murderers. Therefore, Khamenei, like any dictator in a difficult situation, uses the purposeful nationalistic card to drum up popular support.

Flagrant violation of rights and biased pressure on the Iranian media is a routine job of the IRI. Throughout the parasitic life of the IRI, we have seen this as an attempt to totally destroy the independent media in Iran -- a constant hunt for enemies of Islam, ideological cleansing and harsh punishment of journalists.

Draft laws on draft laws increase state control of the mass media in Iran to undermine the media’s freedom of expression. The proposed draft laws contain loosely worded rules on incitement of breaches of public order, ethnic values and national sovereignty that could penalise any expression of political views.  If found guilty of the infractions, the source of the news reports or articles can be ordered to suspend, or be banned.  Finally, the writer is labelled as "tool of Zionists and Westerners, and can be severely punished.  The IRI is today one the greatest enemies of the free media in the world.

Also, under the guise of protecting ethnic values from crude language, sexual content, and violence, the proposed draft laws would also subject adults to restrictive and puritanical viewing standards. In this light, the mass media are obliged to transmit the IRI’s educational, informative or public safety orders.  Use and abuse of this control is even sometimes in contrast to the reactionary constitution of the IRI. 

Generally, journalists working for the private media cannot officially oppose the IRI, and have been victims of aggression, detention and intimidation by government supporters.  And, to a lesser degree, journalists sympathetic to other factions of the IRI, who refused adulatory propaganda for the IRI, have also been subject to acts of intimidation.  

Based on Sharia law non-Muslims, including non Islamists, have no right of freedom of expression even if they pay their humilating jizya. It is time to do something to remove the permanent threat of Islamic shadow over the international free media. All freedom-loving people are convinced that political Islam is incompatible with freedom of opinion. It cannot recognise political pluralism or the rights of other thinkers. The shadow of Sharia is dangerously present in all manner of private and public life, the goal being to control any act or thought of the people.  Nonconformist citizens are considered as rebellious unbelievers.

Now, it is time to finally say enough! The Free Media Movement should now request all human rights organisations and media organisations interested in the freedom of expression to refrain from being silent in the face of such preposterous threats and to demand from the international judiciary authorities to issue a mandate of arrest against Sheikh Fazel Lankarani, who has the audacity to issue his death fatwa against Rafiq Tagi.

Even if someone had been accused, the punishment should have been meted out not in the manner of a death fatwa, but in accordance with the accepted principles of natural justice. If an offence had been committed, the accused should have been given the right to defend himself. In issuing a fatwa verdict, there is a finality with no possibility of appeal. This new terror- fatwa is not the first or probably the last one unless the international community reacts with concrete judicial measures.

Journalists, bloggers, and writers protect yourselves! The overall shadow of political Islam threatens your job, your freedom and your head. Sharia does not allow freedom of your profession on such matters as criticism of Islam. Such criticism is considered blasphemy against Allah and can be paid for by your head.In a sense of political Islam, the violation on the free media respects no border; Journalists, bloggers, editors, caricaturists, reporters and writers, wherever you are, you are all threatened by the IRI.

It is the duty of the international judicial authorities to pay attention to the consequences of such dangerous fatwa threats. They should take appropriate and necessary action to bring the perpetrators of such death fatwas before an international court. Any further apathy or flirtation of the West, especially the EU, with the IRI would further put in question the alleged independence of their judiciary. Comment

For letters section
To: Jahanshah Rashidian

Jahanshah Rashidian


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