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Visiting Iran: Part 7
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This evening I went to a sit-in at the University of Tehran. I
was let in by the guards at the door, and directed to the right
building and I was respectfully treated by the guards. It was
dark outside. Every step I was taking I was looking for "Ansar-e-hezbollah" but
they were no where to be seen. I entered the Engineering building
(Daneshkadeyeh Fanni) and found my way to the auditorium.
to the balcony, there was no room downstairs. Sat there and looked
around. Girls and boys, students and older supporters of the
students were all listening to the speaker at the podium. This
was my first experience watching the likes of Mohsen Kadivar
and others speaking passionately about shortcomings of the Islamic
Speakers openly were criticizing the regime, criticizing the
leaders including Khamenei, and were generally saying that the
government including themselves (parliament deputies) have done
a terrible job of governing.
They were blaming the conservatives
for ruining Iran, for ruining Islam, and for ruining the Islamic
Republic. They were saying that the conservatives intend to remove
the word "Republic" from "Islamic republic" and
by doing so they will destroy "Islamic" as well. They
were saying that if Iranian people knew in 1979 that they were
not going to have a democratic Islamic republic they would not
have voted for Islamic republic.
Kadivar gave a brave passionate speech. I did not know him before
tonight, I had only heard his name. I must say right here that
there were at least 10 mullahs in the audience, two of them who
spoke tonight were the smartest and bravest amongst all speakers.
They spoke eloquently about shortcomings of the regime, and that
people are very disappointed at them, and that they will do everything
in their power to right the wrongs; and this time, they promised,
they will not fear their opponents where they believe are in the
process of taking 230 additional seats of the parliament, hence,
placing the "last straw that will break the camel's back."
Tonight was an eye opener for me. Guards were on our side, university
workers were on our side, the professors and the students were
on our side, and the ten mullahs present in the auditorium were
on our side. People were clapping their hands, it was a very civilized
gathering, everyone was calm and collected.
When pictures were
being taken people were posing as to say: yes, it's me who is here,
take my god damn picture even if you are a secret police. People
all around were talking about a swift change that was upon us:
the February elections will decide the fate of the regime once
and for all!
Kadivar ended his speech by saying that he had no
hope from above, and he said by above I mean Khameneie and the
organizations that the conservatives run. The audience laughed
generally don't refer to Khameneie with his name, they refer to
him and his gang as "from above people".
said he does not want anyone's vote and will not vote for anyone.
In other words he suggested for the people to not participate in
the coming elections. He then left the podium quickly and angrily.
Next speaker warned the conservatives to not label the reformists
as anti-revolution, anti religion, etc. He said clearly those who
have stolen the revolution from the people are the same people
who are afraid of people's choices and their votes.
the world gave permission to a bunch of clerics who are not elected
by people to decide for people who they can elect and who they
cannot elect" said this speaker. "Aren't you ashamed
of belittling people of Iran this much? Haven't you seen or heard
enough? or are you deaf? and if you are deaf as priests in the
middle ages were then you are doomed; and we are doomed. God save
Iran!" he said.
It was a great evening for me. Newspapers are reporting what's
going in the sit-ins (university and parliament), but TV and Radio
are silent. A great event is occurring in Iran. Those who are politicoholics
are saying that after the 1979 revolution this is the first time
that the whole existance of the Islamic republic is under attack
by so many used-to-be-friends of the Islamic government.
I participated in the parliament's sit-in today. Invitations
were required so Kianoosh Rad, an MP, invited us (three guests).
Bahram and I and a third friend from newly founded party
of Iran went for the occasion. The parliament is located where
Senate used to hold it's sessions in Shah's era. All the buildings
surrounding the parliament as far as a block from each side have
been purchased by the government and the current residents are
generally government related folks. We entered the building, our
documents were checked by the guards and were let in.
From the side of the building we were let out to a side street
which used to be a normal alley but now is part of a compound that
houses the Senate building and the surrounding neighborhood. Soldiers
with machine guns were present at every corner inside and outside
of the compound. We walked to the Senate building again from its
adjacent door. Guards checked our documents again and let us in.
I took one picture hastily where photos are not allowed in these
kinds of buildings. Got our paper worked checked by a clerk, showed
them our invitation and received three "visitor's cards." Got
out of the building and went to the back side of the Senate building.
It's a massive building. We then entered the building from the
back gate. Our papers and IDs were checked at the door again and
we were allowed inside.
We were asked to empty our pockets, I had to give up my watch,
my camera and anything but my paper money that was loose in my
pockets were placed in a small plastic basket and was taken away
by security personnel. I was given a receipt.
I passed through a metal detector while several security people
were watching my every step. My visitor's paper was stamped and
I was let in. At the end of the hall before I entered the floor
there were more security folks. We stopped at their table and received
a second stamp.Then further ahead we received a third and at each
stop my ID was matched with my invitation papers. At the last stop
the security personnel looked at me and asked me to say my name;
the name that was on the paperwork and on my ID. I was finally
I got into the main hall that the sit-in was taking place. On the
left side there were people sitting on carpeted floor; MPs, Ebrahim
Yazdi and other more famous politicians were all there. There were
supporters, news reporters from Iran and foreign agencies; it was
a big crowd. Moosavi Tabrizi who is a cleric was behind the podium
and was giving a passionate speech: "who the hell is Guardian
council to decide who is qualified and who isn't?"
paging through Iran's constitution and naming amendments, laws,
trying to prove that guardianship of "Shorayeh Negahban" was
against the law. He said: "these clerics in Guardian Council
are not elected by the people, and they think Iran is theirs! they
know better, that they are out of line and they seem to be having
difficulty seeing and hearing what's going in the world around
Bahaedin Adab, a sunni, representing Kurdistan, gave a speech claiming
he has been disqualified on five counts: "Two of the disqualifying
reasons belong to pre-revolution years". Audience laughed, "and
three of the reasons belonged to 9 years ago." He continued
saying that either he is guilty of those disqualifying reason or
he isn't. If he is guilty then Shorayeh Negahban has allowed a "bad
seed" to make laws for this nation for 8 years! "why
haven't they done their job to purge me when they should have.
If they are wrong about me and are accusing me wrongfully of the
reasons for my disqualifications then they are committing a sin!
according to Quran Tohmat (slander) is among the greatest sins."
Adab continued saying,
In Iran a string of hair out of Islamic
Hejab can cause so much trouble for young girls, yet they are
committing a sin and their hair is visible! ladies and gentlemen
clerics in this country from the conservative side are accusing
me and several thousands of other applicants of sins that is
made up by them and their organizations!
They have no shame, they
feel so comfortable to defemate, and they think we still live
beginning of the revolution, that they can scare us and the people,
with slanders, that we are pagans, non believers, etc." He
went on: "Times have changed. people voted for us, chose us
to do a job and we didn't do our jobs. We simply didn't do our
And now that we are disqualified people still think this
is yet another game! and I for one don't blame them. We have
failed our people and we do not deserve their support! we are
to get it. People gave us a chance and we have failed them.
All the speakers spoke with similar tones. News reporters were
taking pictures. I spoke to a Japanese TV camera woman. She thought
what was happening was very important for the world. Atmosphere
was very civilized. Here and there, there were MPs conducting
Bahram and I spoke to Mohammad Reza Khatami for 10 minutes. He
spoke with a non-Tehrani accent and Bahram expressed his and
his political party's support for the sit-in participants.
I spoke with Moosavi Tabrizi who
is an important cleric, I told him that I enjoyed his speech.
He was hearing that from all who
were trying to shake his hand and were vigorously complementing
him, etc. I then told him I did not expect for a cleric to be
so open and democratic.
I noticed his face changed. He asked
who I was. Noticing that my comment was a little raw for Iran's
atmosphere I went on saying that I have lived in America for
25 years and was new to political scenes like this" that all
heard about clerics from far away was mainly the hardliners
point of view and therefore the reputation for clerics was terrible
He smiled, then said: "Iran is like this." He
then twirled his open-hand a few times; noticing that I did
get what he meant, he said: "Iran is very vibrant! things
change quickly, then they slow down, change for worse and
then get better." I still didn't understand what he meant. I'm
guessing he meant Iran is chaotic.
Moosavi Tabrizi during his speech said this about Khamenei:
"Khomeini in 1967 believed in Velayateh Faghih but in 1979
he had changed
his views and had said that people have the right to vote
and elect their leaders. And that this right belongs to people
only. Government is God's right, and Imam Zaman's right but
in his absence the government belongs to the people."
on: "Khameneie is responsible for all the shortcomings of
the government because he has allowed for organizations under
him to bypass the laws and create havoc. Iran is not their house
we are not their guests. What kind of a country is this? if people
are not able to obey our hard rules then something is wrong with
"Where and when has Islam said to press people so
hard that instead of religion giving them peace it gives them
sarcastically continued: "Foreigners are enemies, people
inside the country don't understand what's good for them, don't
know who to elect, people are poor, have no hope for future,
and the only people who know what's what is Guardian Council."
audience clapped and laughed.
I spoke to Kianoosh Raad and thanked this MP for inviting us.
He thanked me for being there and supporting the sit-ins. When
about my views of events I told him I believe in secularism,
and that I was not religious at all.
I spoke to several MPs. I wanted to talk to Mrs. Haghighatjoo
but she was busy explaining to a reporter about some misunderstanding.
She is very tiny!
At Namaz time (prayer) people lined up for a group prayer. I
would estimate there were 25 people praying and about 350 people
praying and just talking and hanging out in the halls.
It's hard to tell what's going to happen. MPs
at the sit-ins seemed to be very sincere" I loved the open
and brave speeches I heard
in the parliament, and at the university of Tehran. Either I'm
still being naive or Iran is truly going through a change that
is unstoppable. It seems to me no one is afraid anymore. The
MPs talked about everyone and criticized everyone including themselves.
They talked about the old days. They even talked about Bani-Sadr.
It was a memorable afternoon.>>> Part 8
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