Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grand Ayatullah Montazeri Calls on 'Youth' to 'Reclaim their Rights' Peacefully & with 'Patience & Restraint'

Grand Ayatullah Husayn 'Ali Montazeri (often spelled "Hossein" to denote the differences between Arabic and Persian pronunciations of the name) has reportedly issued a statement calling on Iran's "youth" to demonstrate "peacefully" and with "patience and restraint" in order to "reclaim their rights." The initial report is coming from several French media outlets, including Romandie News, which reproduces a story from Agence France-Presse.

The text reads:

Iran: Le religieux dissident Montazeri appelle à manifester pacifiquement

TEHERAN - Le grand ayatollah iranien dissident Hossein Ali Montazeri a appelé mardi la jeunesse iranienne à poursuivre ses manifestations pour "réclamer ses droits" pacifiquement, dans un communiqué reçu par l'AFP.

Dans ce texte adressé à la "nation iranienne noble et opprimée", ce religieux du plus haut rang de l'islam chiite appelle "tout le monde et particulièrement la chère jeunesse à réclamer ses droits avec patience et retenue".

Le grand ayatollah, pressenti à une époque pour succéder au fondateur de la République islamique, l'ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeiny, a ensuite subi une longue assignation à résidence à cause de ses critiques du pouvoir.

An approximate translation of the key first two paragraphs (of mine):

The dissident Iranian Grand Ayatollah Husayn 'Ali Montazeri called Tuesday for the Iranian youth to pursue/ "claim their rights" peacefully, in a statement received by Agence France-Presse.

In this text, addressed to the "noble Iranian nation and oppressed ", he of the highest religious rank in Shi'i Islam [Montazeri] called on "the whole world and especially the beloved youth to claim their rights with patience and restraint."

The last paragraph notes that Montazeri was once the heir to Grand Ayatullah al-Sayyid Ruhollah Khumayni as supreme leader of the republic (rahbar-e Jumhur), until he was forced to resign shortly before Khumayni's death in 1989 for privately criticizing, on principle, the path that the revolution had taken. He has been placed under house arrest numerous times, and continues to be harrassed for his public stances against the regime on various key political and social issues.

I expect additional confirmation of this story later on Tuesday, and will post on it at some point. As of the publication of this post, the statement has not appeared on Montazeri's official web site.

A Twitter search on "Montazeri" reveals that there is a growing call for Khamenei to be removed as supreme leader, which could be done by the Assembly of Experts, and for Montazeri to replace him temporarily until the constitution can be examined and presumably amended.

A defaced portrait of Grand Ayatullah Montazeri

Montazeri's support, if these reports are accurate, is big news. He is widely respected and is one of the most senior, if not the most senior, religious scholars in Iran. He is also the leading "dissident" scholar who has suffered for his principled stands against state power. He deserves a tremendous amount of respect, and is yet another sign of the idiocy of those who claim "all clerics" in Iran are "the same."

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