• 20 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri Dies

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri died on Sunday at the age of 87.

Though Montazeri was a father of the Revolution in 79 and a drafter of the Iranian Constitution, he like many became disenchanted by the path of the Iranian leadership. According to AP, ” he accused the country’s ruling Islamic establishment of imposing dictatorship in the name of Islam, and he persisted with his criticism after June’s disputed presidential election.”

The Iranian government is once again caught between a rock and a hard place as Iranians have already begun the mourning process by pouring into the streets.  To not allow crowds in the streets would mean disrespecting the a revered Iranian cleric but allowing them the government runs the risk of more anti-government protests.

Radio Free Europe reports that shops have been shut down and that people have already hit the streets, shouting, “We congratulate you on your freedom” and “Innocent Montazeri, your path will continue.”


Montazeri had once been designated a successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, but was replaced by Khamenei due to political differences. He was later placed under house arrest from 1997 to 2003 because he said Ayatollah Khamenei was not qualified to rule as Supreme Leader.

Though the Reformists have lost a key intellectual and leader, by publicly mourning in the streets, they are able to keep his desire of freedom in the Islamic Republic and their Green movement alive.

Posted By NIAC

    3 Responses to “Grand Ayatollah Montazeri Dies”

  1. Pirouz says:

    I think “rock and a hard place” is overstating the situation, Michelle. There will be assemblies held at various universities, as well as the customary mourning activities at Qom, but that may be the extent of it.

    However, it can be said that Montazeri’s demise comes at an opportune time for the Green Movement, having recently found itself on the defensive over the Khomeini photo incident- a consequence of its own unguided radicalization. This should turn out to be a good gauge of the Green Movement’s ability to coordinate and execute (at a location removed from Tehran), and determine what level of relevance- if any- the movement is capable of exerting upon the religious community at Qom and the political scene in Tehran.

  2. Iranian-American says:

    Surely, you’ve heard of the opposition’s claim that the Khomeini photo incident was a set up by the government. While neither of us know what the truth is, I can’t help but find it more than plausible that a government which kills, tortures and rapes its own citizens for peacefully protesting, would fabricate such a situation to further extend their brutality. That does not mean it is the case, but I believe that the actions of the Iranian government does not earn them the benefit of the doubt. Now, what is curious to me and just about every one else that reads your comments, is that while you are very careful not to directly defend the regime’s actions, you have always given the government, the Basiji and the Revolutionary Guard the benefit of the doubt and instead been a lot more “concerned” about exactly what this opposition movement is. Surely, you must be self-aware enough to notice this bias?

    We all have our biases. I have mine. But if you ask me where that bias comes from, I can tell you exactly where it comes from. It comes from overwhelming evidence that the Iranian government is doing horrible and unjust things to Iranian citizens. I wonder where you bias comes from? What can you point to, to justify the “benefit of the doubt” you always grant the pro-establishment and never to the anti-establishment.

  3. Islam says:

    “This should turn out to be a good gauge of the Green Movement’s ability to coordinate and execute (at a location removed from Tehran), and determine what level of relevance- if any- the movement is capable of exerting upon the religious community at Qom and the political scene in Tehran.”

    Were you at the government sanctioned rally in Tehran? It was so pathetically attended, the government has to issue warnings to the press to cover it. Even Kayhan thought it was pathetic.

    May Allah help you.

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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.



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