• 27 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009, Iranian American activism

Mohsen KadivarWinning doesn’t need chains and arrests!” exclaimed Dr. Mohsen Kadivar to an audience of 200 Iranian Americans at George Mason University in Virginia yesterday.

Dr. Mohsen Kadivar is an Iranian cleric, philosopher, and now a visiting professor of religious studies at Duke University after spending a year at the University of Virginia. In 1999 he became the first intellectual jailed in a crackdown on Iran’s democracy movement. He served 18 months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, refusing to apologize for his ideas, even though that might have earned him an early release.

Kadivar said the current government of Iran is practicing what he called “Black Islam.” In “Black Islam,” the people’s obedience and allegiance to the leaders is important and the rulers abuse religion to advance their own agenda, he said. To them, “votes have no meaning because the decisions made by the Velayat Fagih (guardianship of the jurist) are divine.

Kadivar argued this was not the original meaning of the concept of Velayat Fagih. He noted the use of the word, velayat, which means jurist. They did not use the word vekalat, which means power of the attorney, because all of their actions would have to be done with the permission of the people, he said. Kadivar argued that the choice of the word jurist gives them the power to regulate the affairs of society because “they know better than anyone else.”

Kadivar described the Mousavi’s approach as “Green Islam.”  In “Green Islam,” “The leaders respond and listen to their people, they are the workers, not the people!” Kadivar continued, “The Iranian people are the leaders of their own land and it is a waste when a leader stays in power when the people don’t want him!”

Kadivar proposed the following steps for how people outside Iran can help:
1. Follow the people inside of Iran
2. Do not recognize Ahmadinejad as president
3. Don’t allow members of his government into your country
4. If you do allow them in, then the people should protest
5. Military strikes are not an option
6. Any type of sanction will hurt the people of Iran

Kadivar called the controversial usage of flags during rallies and protests outside of Iran “an insult to the movement.”

As for what Iranians should do, Kadivar was much more vague and philosophical. He directed people “to follow Ayatollah Montazeri. Welcome the good, and discourage the bad,” he said. In practice, this means calling people out when you see them doing wrong, he said.

During the Q &A session, Kadivar was asked about Rafsanjani’s wealth, a source of contempt for many in Iranians inside and out of Iran. “People support Ahmadinejad because of his government handouts, isn’t that better than Rafsanjani who keeps his wealth?” asked an audience member. Although the crowd was skeptical of Kadivar’s claim that “Rafsanjani was wealthy through his pistachio farms well before the revolution,” they nodded in agreement when he pointed out that his wealth helped support the opposition against the shah. “Rafsanjani personally bailed out many people during the 1979 revolution,” he added. But to truly investigate the source and whereabouts of his wealth, Dr. Kadivar advised setting up a people’s court.

You can see his full speech in Farsi here.

Posted By NIAC

    6 Responses to “Mohsen Kadivar- “Black Islam” v. “Green Islam””

  1. Megan says:

    There we go again, one clergy having had change of heart advising people what to do. He is now the authority on good or bad Ayatollahs. As far as I am concerned they are all caricatures from 8th century. There is only one place Ayatollahs belong to and that is mosque.

    People in Iran are all suffering from Stockholm syndrome including Mr. Kadivar. You know there is real change in Iran when Iranians turn their backs to all clergies, converted, reformed, pragmatic or otherwise. Mr. Kadivar’s advice for people to follow Ayatollah Montazeri is preposterous. Montazeri too has blood on his hands and now that he is old and has been cut out of the system power base he is qualified as the wizard people need to follow?

    Black Islam, Green Islam is all nonsense Mr. Kadivar is using to make his living in this country. I hope Iranians are smarter than that and I hope they decide to do away with all clergies when it comes to matters of state.

  2. Pirouz says:

    Kadivar is right about the usage of the old imperial flag during rallies and protests outside of Iran. Iranian-Americans that adamantly continue this practice know full well that this is damaging to the protest movement in Iran. But they don’t care. They’re not pro-moderate at all, rather they are blatantly anti-regime. Which, of
    course undermines those actively seeking change inside Iran.

    Perhaps that would make the basis of an NIAC opinion poll. Are readers supportive of the protest movement within the current regime of Iran, or simply anti-regime?

  3. iran2020 says:

    Dr. Kadivar is quite right in emphasizing the need to support those in Iran (led by Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Khatami) who are putting their lives on the line as we speak. Those of us who are comfortably living in the West do not have the right to “force” a revolution to restore monarchy or any other regime change from here — at least not as long as we live outside Iran and have (almost) nothing to lose in the process. Let the people of Iran (specifically those living inside Iran) follow their leaders without our adverse interference.

  4. Pedestrian says:

    This is the translation of some of Kadivar’s speech:


  5. Mohsen says:

    Kadivar is right. Watching all his videos and reading the main page of the grand Ayatullah Montezeri. To achieve democracy with the least causality in Iran to use the current constitution against the regime that is violating it’s articles. This is the only way that the Movement can not be labeled as foreign.
    Further Both him and Montazeri and the leaders of Green Movement are not against public ref-random and if that creates:
    1. separation of State and religion then let it be and and we all agree with it.
    2. And if the people choose a civil Islamic society based on justice for all then let it be as well and we all agree with it.
    Hence the argument at the present is that since we are facing a brutal dictatorship lets use the best tool available to us that has the highest percentage of success with least causality.
    That tool is the current constitution. The current constitution allows for Ref-random, ask for presence of a lawyer in all public trials, has article for assurance of civil liberty. Has articles in regard to peaceful demonstration. Has article that make government responsible for protection of the rights of individual.
    The course is to do what Karrobi is doing. Bring any act in contrast to the articles of the constitution to the surface and fight for it’s implementation of it and do not back up. Small step at the present time have more chances of success.

  6. korosh says:

    i came back from iran yeasterday
    and i can inform you that many people who were a part of green movement has turn their back to it, because of what kadivar warn ous. they say this green movemnt dont belongs to ous anymore, the royalist and mojahedin are takin it from ous.
    people who used to go out teh first day after election shooce to stay home, people dont want a revoultion they want reform
    if you remember cnn bbc … everyone of them wrote 1 miljon were on the tehrans streets but not they write some thousand and bbc wrote some hundreds. theran belongs to 17 miljon people

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



Share this with your friends: