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Posts Tagged ‘ Qom ’

  • 19 October 2010
  • Posted By Lily Samimi
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Khamenei is now following you on Twitter

Everyone in Qom, get out your cell phones and cameras, because the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei wants you to send him your videos and pictures of him when he visits today so that he can post them on his website.

Ironic that Khamenei is suddenly a champion of citizen journalism, considering that he and his government were attacking and silencing Iranians who tweeted, blogged, took videos, and emailed pictures during the 2009 election aftermath.

But a major PR blitz is underway as Ayatollah Khamenei ventures to Qom today, his 3rd official visit to Qom since his appointment as Supreme Leader in 1989, including the calls for Iranians to get involved through social media, and a campaign to paint people’s cars and vehicles calling Khamenei an Imam.

How can Khamenei promote social media when, at the same time he has a cyber police task force, stomping on people’s doorsteps anytime someone sends an email to their cousin in America insulting the Iranian government? This is the same government that worked to permanently suspend Gmail, filters the internet, and recently began blocking the web page of its former President. But now the Supreme Leader tweets.

Public relations stunts aside, there has been some speculation as to why Khamenei has decided to visit Qom now during such an interesting political climate both internationally and domestically. The main reason behind his visit seems to be because he’s getting a lot of criticism from the clerics. About two weeks ago, Ayatollah Ali-Mohammad Dastgheib criticized Khamenei for taking his role as Supreme Leader too far. He insinuated in a dense theological verdict, that the Supreme Leader’s role is technically more limited then the current role he plays. According to Dastgheib, Khamenei’s role is “to coordinate the efforts of the three branches of government and to prevent the violation of citizens’ rights by the three branches.” In addition, a group of dissident clerics issued a letter warning the community of clerics of Khamenei’s visit. Other critics of Khamenei include, Ayatollah Yusef Sanei and Ayatollah Assad Bayat-Zanjani.

With sanctions and nuclear pressure on the rise, not to mention upcoming talks with the P5+1 countries in November, it seems that Khamenei wants to unify the clerics to stand against “western influence”. But at the same time, he is trying to harness the same social media tools that are derided as being “western influence” when Iranians use them to promote civil rights.  Khamenei has said that “the media is more powerful and dangerous than nuclear weapons.” By getting into social media, it seems what he is trying to do is, “keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer.”

  • 14 June 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran

IRI’s Helping Hand

Hardline backers attacked and vandalized Grand Ayatollah Saanei's office on Sunday.

While some Iranians came out to protest on the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent presidential elections this weekend, others came out to attack Mehdi Karroubi and the offices of Grand Ayatollah Saanei and late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

Karroubi, who traveled to Qom on Sunday for a mourning ceremony, planned on visiting Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, and the family of late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Shortly after arriving at the house of Saanei, a group of pro-regime backers encircled Saanei’s house, chanting slogans against Karroubi and Saanei. They also attacked Karroubi’s car, which despite being bulletproof, was still heavily damaged due to the severity of the attacks.

While these attacks were not particularly surprising — just another statistic added to the many other attacks this past year — what was surprising was the IRGC’s aid to Karroubi. The IRGC not only urged the violent crowds to disperse, but Karroubi also took refuge in a building owned by the Revolutionary Guards per their request until 4 in the morning on Monday when he finally left for Tehran. He escaped through a corridor made by the anti-riot police to ensure safe passing of Karroubi’s car.

As any Iranian who first points to an underlying conspiracy as the reason for an unnatural event taking place, I assumed it was the regime that set up the entire thing. Photos of Saanei’s office greatly resembled photos of university dormitories attacked by the Basij following the elections last year. Plain clothed thugs were hired by the regime, I thought, and then the IRGC came to the ‘rescue,’ showing the regime’s kindhearted nature, even to the opposition. It would serve for a brilliant propaganda campaign. But after fruitlessly searching on Press TV for any news of this event, I realized I was slightly off.

But only slightly. The place to look was Raja News, not Press TV. The state media was broadcasting the event, and of Karroubi’s flee from the people on domestic news sites, not international ones. The state-run media seemed to mock Karroubi for escaping a violent crowd — though I couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind doing differently.

And all the while, the police did nothing. Shortly after Karroubi escaped, police and security forces stood by, watching while the mob attacked Saanei’s house and office and vandalized the late Montazeri’s office.  Said opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s son Hossein:

From the sudden gathering and the behavior of this group, it is obvious that they did not act by themselves and have orders.

This elaborate, and very organized plan, served the regime quite well. First of all, it allowed them to score some cheap points through the fear of violence.  Also, the IRGC very deliberately prevented the mob from going too far — because the last thing they want to do is create another martyr for the opposition movement.

Iran was shaken up after the death of Neda, and again, after the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri last year.  Another martyr would serve as the very flame needed to ignite the relatively smaller protests on the anniversary this year and turn them into something bigger, resembling the protests that followed the previous deaths. And so the IRGC prevented that from happening.

To be clear, this could have been a very major event — and it appears the senior leadership in the IRGC knew it.

For me, it wasn’t the violence that was surprising — thankfully, no one was hurt — it was its target: two grand ayatollahs, Montazeri and Saanei.  I was looking through the pictures of Saanei’s attacked office and saw a broken mohr.  A Mohr is a small clay tablet that Shi’a Muslims use to pray.

There’s no better illustration than this of what Montazeri meant when he said Iran is no longer Islamic nor a republic.

  • 14 January 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009, Uncategorized

Reformist Cleric Arrested

Radio Zamaneh reports (via www.payvand.com) that Iranian reformist cleric Mohammad-Taghi Khalaji was arrested yesterday by the Qom Intelligence Department. Khalaji’s son Mehdi affirms that when arrested, Khalaji’s computer and personal documents, such as his passport, were confiscated as well. Mehdi Khalaji further reports that his mother and sister also had their passports confiscated and they were told not to leave the country.  The Khalaji family had been planning to visit Mehdi, who currently lives in the US and works at the DC think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Mohammad-Taghi Khalaji is a prominent Qom cleric close to reformist clerics Ayatollah Montazeri and Ayatollah Sanei. He was arrested and imprisoned three times before the Revolution as a political activist.

Mehdi Khalaji reports that his father had given a speech on the night of Tasua, the Shiite Holy Day in Ayatollah Sanei’s home criticizing government pressure against clerics and opposition leaders.

Mohammad-Taghi Khalaji supported presidential candidate Mousavi and has spoken out several times condemning the Iranian government for their brutal crackdown on election protestors.

  • 21 December 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 8 Comments
  • Iran Election 2009

The Significance of Today’s Events

 

Copyright AP

The hardline newspaper Kayhan reported that there were "a maximum of 5000" in the crowd mourning Montazeri's death. (h/t enduringamerica.com)

 

Today clearly breathed new life into Iran’s opposition movement. Opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi both took the risk and attended alongside countless other mourners. (Mousavi’s convoy was reportedly attacked en-route back to Tehran by plain-clothed security officials who cut off the convoy and bashed in a window of one of the cars and injured one of Mousavi’s bodyguards.) 

Khamenei issued a rather insulting statement of condolence, which the NY Times reports sparked boos, chants of “we do not want rationed condolences” and “death to the dictator” from the crowd of mourners in Qum. Khamenei’s statement follows:

“We have become informed that the sublime jurisprudent Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has departed this life. He was a competent religious authority and a prominent expert and many students attended his classes. A long portion of his life had been dedicated to the movement of the revered and great Imam (Khomeini), and he strived and suffered hardships on this path. In the last years of the Imam’s life, he (Montazeri) was faced with a difficult test. I ask Almighty God to forgive him through His mercy and to accept the hardships suffered during his life as atonement. I extend my condolences to his bereaved wife and children and ask God to bestow forgiveness and mercy upon him.”

While the Iranian government managed to successfully block BBC Persian service into Iran, another critical audience couldn’t possibly miss what happened today. One of the readers at the New York Times’ The Lede put it best: 

Qom is in many ways the heart of the last Revolution (how it ended up anyway) and its aftermath. Until now, the regime has tried very very hard to isolate Qom from the protest movement. The security presence there has always been reported as very high to prevent any protests. […] With today’s protests in Qom, and the clergy’s close-up view of it (perhaps for the first time for some of them) it will be interesting to see what the Qom clergy does in the days and weeks to come.

The next day to watch is Sunday, when two major days of mourning coincide: the day of mourning for Ayatollah Montazeri (the seventh day after his death) and the religious holiday of Ashura, which marks the martyrdom of the Imam Hossein.

Flux In Iran affecting its handle on foreign policy, nuclear issues?

In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, Iran expert Ray Takeyh suggested that the Iranian government is preoccupied with internal divisions both among its officials and with a state-society divide that has subsequently impeded its foreign policy.

Takeyh:

I don’t believe at this point that the Islamic Republic has a foreign policy if you classify foreign policy as when a country identifies its interests abroad and tries to achieve them, or as when a country seeks to export its revolution, or as when a country seeks to project its power. The Iranian foreign policy is currently derived almost entirely from domestic political considerations, which are evolving in unpredictable ways.

Further, he suggests Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using the nuclear negotiations to mitigate international attention on Iran’s domestic turmoil and human rights violations.

Analysts have speculated that changes in the Iran’s political structure, with its increasing shift in power towards its military complex, has been an important factor.  Since June 12, the IRGC has monopolized telecommunications in Iran, violently cracked down on protests and dissidents, and established a new intelligence body led by the former head of the Basij, in effect nullifying the old intelligence ministry.

Recent reports also suggest that Iran has not significantly increased its uranium enrichment since September. Motives for the slower production are unclear. From the outside, it is unclear whether adjustments are being made due to shifting concerns in light of both domestic unrest as well as what appears to be a changing political structure, not to mention the ongoing negotiations with P-5+1 countries.

Reuters:

While Iran‘s stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) has likely risen by 200-300 kg from 1,500 kg reported by U.N. monitors in August, the number of operating centrifuge machines at its Natanz enrichment plant has remained at about 4,600, they said.

Iran‘s potential enrichment capacity was much higher. It had installed at least 8,700 centrifuges in all by late September, diplomats said. A fresh figure was not yet available.

But it was unclear why almost half the centrifuges were not yet enriching, remaining idle or undergoing vacuum tests.

Diplomats and analysts said possible reasons ranged from technical glitches to politically motivated restraint, to avoid closing the door to diplomacy with world powers and provoking harsher international sanctions or even Israeli military action.

“The situation is now pretty much as it was in September,” said a senior diplomat in Vienna, where the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is based. Officials at Iran‘s IAEA mission were unavailable for comment.

The IAEA’s report on its visit to Iran’s Qom facility is also due next week, but Mohamed ElBaradei has previously suggested the facility is no more than “a hole in a mountain,” built as a backup facility in case of military strikes from an external source.

  • 14 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

VIDEO: Anti-government Rally in Qom

Another video apparently from the Qadr night protest in the holy city of Qom has surfaced. People gathered in front of the Grand Ayatollah Sanei’s office after his speech for the Qadr night ceremony and showed their anger over what is happening in Iran. Their chants included, “Death to the dictator,” “Coup administration, resign, resign,” and “We will meet on Quds Day.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBJCiX-zpkw]

Also, Fars news agency reported on Sunday that Ahmadinejad is suing Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sanei:

“Following an insulting speech made in a ceremony by Mr Sanei against the president, the president’s legal office has prepared a complaint against him,” Fars said, quoting an unnamed source in the presidential office. “The complaint will be submitted to the Special Court for Clergy,” the source said, without offering further details. In August, hardline newspaper Javan accused Sanei of calling Ahmadinejad a “bastard” in comments made among his supporters but the cleric’s office denied the report.

Ahmadinejad has had a tough time with Iran’s clerical elite and most senior ayatollahs have refused to congratulate him on his re-election.

  • 31 August 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

President of Tarbiat Modares University in Qom arrested (UPDATED)

According to Tabnak, Dr. Mohammad Zabihi was arrested about two weeks ago but the local media has been silent about the news.

Tabnak reported that Dr. Mohammad Zabihi is the President of Tarbiat Modares University in Qom where Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, Iran’s Judiciary chief teaches. The university in Qom is one of the main universities in this city which has close relation with the Qom seminary (howzeh). Dr. Zabihi is also the Chief Editor of the Philosophy-Theology Research quarterly.

Update: According to ParlemanNews, Dr. Mohammad Zabihi, manager of Mousavi’s Principlalist supporters’ campaign and President of Tarbiat Modares Univeristy in Qom, was released on bail but his son is still in detention. His arrest was very high profile since he is a cleric, and also the new head of the Judiciary is a faculty member of Qom University. Also Dr. Soleimani a member of the Assembly of Qom Seminary Teachers was also released from prison.

  • 21 August 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Friday prayer leader in Qom: release the innocent prisoners

Ayatollah Ali Amini, the most popular Friday prayer leader in the conservative holy city of  Qom, Iran, condemned the government’s use of violence and called on the government to release all innocent prisoners, according to the pro-reformist site Mowjcamp. Ayatollah Amini also called on the Ahmadinejad government to begin a process of reconciliation and to halt violations of the peoples’ rights. The striking differences between the sermons in Iran’s political capital (Tehran) and its religious capital (Qom)  provide further evidence of a deep rift between religious and political sectors in Iran that has developed since the June 12 election.

The strong sermon by Ayatollah Amini reportedly caused hardline supporters of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi to cancel their planned protest against Grand Ayatollah Saneii, who recently spoke out strongly against Ahmadinejad.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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