Leaders of Iran

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

TIME Europe | Saeed Hajjarian Interview | 6/10/2000

TIME Europe | Iran: The Roots of Reform | 6/10/2000: "The Roots of Reform
In an exclusive interview with TIME, Iranian Presidential Adviser Saeed Hajjarian--recovering from an assassination attempt--explains why he still has hopes for reforming Iran's Islamic system
By SCOTT MACLEOD Tehran


Since President Mohammed Khatami's election in 1997, Saeed Hajjarian has been one of the reform movement's top strategists. As publisher of the popular Tehran newspaper "Sobh-e Emrouz," he pushed the country's restrictions on free speech to their limits. As a campaign strategist, he helped engineer the reform movement's victory in parliamentary elections in February. So when a gunman pumped a bullet into Hajjarian's head one morning in March, it seemed to many Iranians that the nation's entire reform movement had suffered a fatal blow. When I visited Hajjarian--for his first interview since the attack--he was smiling, mentally alert and up to date on the latest political developments. Still partially paralyzed, he slurred his words and had little stamina. As he himself agreed, not a bad metaphor for the state of reform in Iran.

The shooting of Hajjarian signaled the start of a backlash by hard-liners against reformers in the Iranian press and government. I met Hajjarian at a private apartment outfitted with imported medical equipment just days after five men had been convicted and given light sentences for the assassination attempt. As a physical therapist massaged his limbs, he displayed no bitterness. In fact, Hajjarian seemed as optimistic--and determined--as ever.

TIME: What is the outlook for the reform movement?
Hajjarian: Reform takes shape in different ways: in fields like politics, culture, law, the economy. Reform is undermined in various ways: by people who do not believe in democracy, by people who are accustomed to patronage, and by those who are not true reformists. But I think the new parliament will be new fuel for the locomotive of the reform movement. To some extent, I think the path will be a bit smoother.

TIME: What explains the attempt on your life?
Hajjarian: In the tapes of the trial, the suspects said I have cheated the system. They acted within an ideologically charged space that was created for them. They were convinced that I was against the system, that I was going to destroy them.

TIME: Did the attack harm the reform movement, as the conspirators hoped?
Hajjarian: The movement is not based on a person. I made some efforts for reform, to the best of my capacity. But the movement has a social foundation, so I don't think the attack will have serious implications for the movement.

TIME: What effect did the attack have on President Khatami?
Hajjarian: When he returned from the trip he was on at the time, he came directly to the hospital. He came to see me another time as well, checking to see how I was. Since I was his political adviser, it is important for him. But he is also worried about the continuing activity of these power Mafia groups. In his letter to the judiciary immediately after the attack, he expressed his concern about the social roots of this type of terror, which in the era after the Revolution is without precedent.

TIME: Do you still play a political role?
Hajjarian: The doctor must say when I can return to the political scene. I believe I cannot be very active for another four or five months.

TIME: Do you have any advice for the President and the reform movement?
Hajjarian: Recently I took part in a meeting of the [pro-Khatami] Participation Front. I shared my opinions with those who were elected to parliament. Mainly, I believe that the movement's caution should not be sacrificed for speed. We make serious gains. Wisdom is inevitably cautious. Now that we have a parliament, with the gains we have made we can institutionalize these reforms. Young supporters of reform want greater speed. But we need to institutionalize our accomplishments before we can move forward. The important thing is not the speed but the direction. Because speed terrifies some [hard-line] people, this creates more obstacles. We need to attract more forces to the side of reform, even some conservatives.

TIME: Do you believe the people who shot you were acting alone, or was it a conspiracy from higher up?
Hajjarian: These kids were too immature to act alone. They only committed the act. That is why I did not sue them in court for damages. In a letter I wrote to Iran's National Security Council, I suggested they must definitely search for the deeper roots.
"

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: Patriotic-religious intellectuals' belief in God, comparable with Satan's

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: Patriotic-religious intellectuals' belief in God, comparable with Satan's: "Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: Patriotic-religious intellectuals' belief in God, comparable with Satan's

Tehran, Jan 12, IRNA -- Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, the pre-sermons speaker of the Tehran Friday Prayer this week, said that the patriotic-religious intellectuals' belief in God is comparable with Satan's belief in Him.
The Qom Seminary theology professor opined so after quoting a question by some individuals, "wether the patriotic-religious intellectuals, too, are believers in God, or not?"

He further elaborated on by posing the question, "should such individuals be commemorated in our society and be treated as great cultural figures, then?"

The theology professor himself replied, "naturally not, since they too, like Satan, ask questions in God's authority, and therefore, deserve to be treated the way we should treat Satan, since they keep doing the same thing that he once did"

Ayatollah Mesbah also said that these intellectuals believe that modern man has no commitment towards God and all he has to do is to safeguard his own interests. "Therefore, even if God does not approve of some of the rights they elieve they should enjoy, they would not hesitate in rioting against Him either. O! Death with such wayward human beings!" He said.

Mesbah further added that the satans of our era and those who call themselves patriotic-religious and religious intellectuals have gone so far today as to claim that the reason why man is referred to as `God's salve' is the ruling culture at the advent of Islam.

The Ayatollah said that this is the typical mentality of the modern era man, and that is the logic that (the intellectuals) wish to romote in Iran today. "That is the basis of their training for our youth and our university students," he regretted, "and the people who are supposed to encounter them are unfortunately expressing pride that they are providing for the ground for their activities."

Elsewhere in his furious remarks, the orthodox-conservative theoretician referred to the religious pluralism issue raised by some of these intellectuals arguing, "according to their version of Islam, t is not against piety even to deny God, and such a sensitive issue is regarded as a `secondary matter in belief' based on their teachings!"

Ayatollah Mesbah clearly referred to an article entitled, `The Innate Nature of Religion and the Secondary Issues,' in which one of these intellectuals has referred to `belief in God' as a secondary atter of importance for a monotheist!

"Such people have now targeted the beliefs of our youth and are either Satan himself, themselves, or they have become tools in the hands of the satans issuing orders overseas.""

Supreme Leader "appoints" President - Mesbah Yazdi

Supreme Leader "appoints" President - Mesbah Yazdi: "Supreme Leader "appoints" President - Mesbah Yazdi

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To: iran-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Supreme Leader "appoints" President - Mesbah Yazdi
From: Payman Arabshahi
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 09:36:40 -0800 (PST)
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Content-type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

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Iran : Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi says Islamic ruler "appoints" the president

12/07/98
BBC Worldwide Monitoring
Source: `Hamshahri', Tehran, in Persian 7 Dec 98/BBC Worldwide Monitoring/(c)
BBC


Text of report by Iranian newspaper `Hamshahri' on 6th December

Tehran : Addressing thousands of people at the Tehran Friday prayers [on
4th December], held on the Tehran University campus, Ayatollah Mohammad
Taqi Mesbah- Yazdi referred to some countries as the "leaders of colonial
world" which he said were trying to promote a democracy in which
"religious involvement in social affairs was banned" .

Addressing the gathering before the Friday prayers sermons, he said: The
leaders of global colonialism believe democracy is a secular regime which
is not compatible with religion.

Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi said: Such an interpretation of democracy has no
place in religion, and is totally opposed to Islam because this
interpretation boils down to the negation of all divine religions
including Islam.

He pointed out: In an Islamic government people play an active in their
own affairs by participating in elections and appointing the president and
the Majlis deputies.

The member of the Guardian Council added: When people vote for an
individual to become the president, they are in fact proposing him to the
Islamic ruler who will then "appoint" the proposed individual on the
grounds that he believes the vote and the choice of the people are in the
interests of society."

Netiran>Interview with Saeed Hajjarian

Netiran>Articles>Politics>Internal Affairs>We Pay the Price for Past Mistakes (Interview with Saeed Hajjarian): "We Pay the Price for Past Mistakes (Interview with Saeed Hajjarian)

Nasimesaba, Daily Newspaper, Vol. 1, No. 108, Jul. 30th, 2003, Page 7
Word Count : 2379

Prominent reformist ideologue, Saeed Hajjarian, believes that President Mohammad Khatami is the last option for reformism in Iran.
He says prolongation of the current trend would bring about major developments which would not serve the people. For him, Mr. Khatami did refuse to manage reforms and he preferred to serve as the chief executive.
That is why, he says, the reforms faced problems.
Saeed Hajjarian


Saying "We are paying the price for our mistakes in the past twenty years" Hajjarian kicks off his critical assessment of the past and ongoing trend. He does not only focus on the past but spells out significant points regarding the younger generation to prevent them from repeating the past errors and make the future horizon more transparent under the aegis of experiences.
Owing to his dynamic thoughts and views, Hajjarian has always been forced into the spotlight. Our interview with him reflects his latest views of political events and theoretical hypotheses.
Accountability of the officials to the people, institutionalizing healthy rivalry among the political parties and power-sharing through general elections has topped the reformist agenda in the country.
Organizing the political parties and groups has hit snags due to lack of political culture and degradation of political thinking over the past six years, but every one knows well that reformist demands could materialize only through regulating connections between the people and the authorities. To this effect, Nassim-e Saba newspaper intends to canvass influential elements and faces. The interviews focus on two theoretical (strategic) and news-style levels to distinguish the status of political parties.
A glimpse at the 25-year-long history indicates that six main political tendencies have spearheaded the political showdown in the country. The Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI), the Islamic Coalition Society (ICS), the Society of Combatant Clerics (SCC), the Assembly of Combatant Clerics (ACC), the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization (IRMO) and the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) represent the leading political and influential parties and all have in turn held grip on the power. To this effect, Nassim-e Saba has sought the opinions of influential figures from the aforementioned parties about their past performance and their predictions. Such a trend would open a new chapter in enlightenment of political thoughts and would serve as a step in political promotion of Iran. We have thus far interviewed Dr Ebrahim Yazdi, FMI leader, and Hussein Allah-Karam, leader of the hardline Ansar-e Hizbullah vigilantes. Other interviews are being organized.
Q: Mr. Hajjarian! Would you please tell us of the origins of the reformism movement on May 23, 1997? Was it a historical event or an organized project?
A: The May 23, 1997 event could be viewed from various angles. To me, it was a project inclined toward the human willing. Project is always aforethought and if we consider the May 23, 1997 a historical event we have to consider it a historical must. I think that the start of May 23, 1997 event was a calculated project as it focused on democratization of the Islamic system and the power structure.

Q: So you believe that the May 23, 1997 event was premeditated?
A: Not completely, but relatively. You see that architecture is a technique in construction but earthquake would strike beyond the human willing.

Q: Considering the origin of May 23, 1997 event a project, had you thought of any solution to remove possible hurdles or you did not make any relevant predictions?
A: I imagined that any project like reforms would face myriad of problems and that is so today. Reforms can be compared with construction of an edifice. Building would definitely face problems like financial shortages or official hurdles like the City Hall. Such probabilities go with the reforms too. But a pre-planned project is defensible whenever it can deliver on its promises according to the schedule.

Q: Any planned program and action pursues its goals. What do you think the reform movement followed up?
A: The reforms have definitely pursued objectives but it should be noted that reformist objectives are not calculated quantitatively and they are looked at qualitatively. Reformism is not like economy to be measured statistically. But we are witnessing qualitative developments like promotion of civil institutions, growth in contribution of the people to political affairs, etc. Such indices can be considered quantitative but such calculation has not yet been made.

Q: The public opinion in the society is now hanging on the point that the reform movement and Khatami administration failed to make good on their promises. What do you think about anti-reform snags?
A: I ask your question in a different way. How would the people have made judgments had the reforms succeeded? The people would not make the same judgments. The losers never write the history and the winners do so according to their wills! The same is going on for Khatami and the only difference is that nobody has won Khatami administration! Few may think that the Islamic establishment would get somewhere with the failure of reforms. So the history is always written by the winners. The history has sided with the Allied forces in the World War II and the Nuremberg Court has put on trial the losers. Can you give an example in the history that a court puts the winners on trial? I don't think so.
Anyhow, even if we take it for granted that Khatami's reforms have foundered can we conclude that the enemies are winning?
In the political jargon, we have "defeatism" implying that a nation who is falling to an enemy demands such defeat.

Q: As you know, the issue of democracy is from time to time addressed in the country and it faces conflicting assessments. Some are of the view that a nation should elect a leader and hand over their power to him to run the affairs. Is it a democratic trend or not?
A: To me, the living mankind should not delegate his right of deciding his fate to somebody else otherwise his humanity would be questioned. Can the mankind sell him or pay to be slaved? It is incorrect.

Q: But such a trend occurred in Germany. In a national uprising, the Germans elected Adolf Hitler as their indisputable and incontestable leader in 1933.
A: Yes, such a phenomenon took place in the history but it is not defensible. The people did not sell themselves.

Q: Is it indefensible because the Germans elected Hitler under ebullient and tumultuous conditions?
A: Yes, Hitler took the helm in Germany because of his charisma but misled the German people and the German civilization. Of course, it is accidental and it is not a rule in the history.

Q: What do you think are the most significant hurdles for human promotion in Iran? To what extent do you think non-formation of "self-fundamental wisdom" has affected Iran's backwardness?
A: I think that Iranians should set up "self-fundamental wisdom" and introduce new projects. Otherwise, Iran would get bogged down in its inclusive backwardness. Of course the trend of events in Iran differs from Europe of 17th and 18th centuries.

Q: What's the reason behind such backwardness? Can we attribute it to certain events or the society's misinterpretation of revision gives rise to this problem?
A: It is important to find out why no development is taking place in Iran and it would answer many other questions. Of course this question might be looked at from a variety of angles for instance ecological and geographical conditions of Iran might be linked to lack of economic development and commercial surplus. Iran also lies at the crossroad of warring tribes and has always fallen pray to pillage and looting. Such conditions have ended in flight of capital from the country and kept the nation away from reaching bourgeois. Of course other answers might be given from political and cultural points of view.
From the political point of view, Iran failed to reach any development due to monarchial and patriarchal system. Under such system, people are considered a proletariat group who should offer the monarch what they earn.

Q: So you mean that these two factors account for Iran's backwardness?
A: Other factors are also effective and many sociologists have talked about them.

Q: What do you think about the influence of muzzling thoughts in Iran? Is thinking being repressed or Iran is suffering from degradation of thinking -- as Dr Javad Tabatabaie believes?
A: Former professor of philosophy at Tehran University Dr Aramesh Doustdar has discussed this issue. He touches on non-emergence of modern thinking as Iran's fundamental problem while Mr. Tabatabaie has focused on regression of thinking on Iran. Such standpoints have unfortunately not yet analyzed thoroughly.

Q: Under the present circumstances, Iran is said to be mired in a "vacuum of discourse". In other words, a large gamut of students and youth turned to such philosophers as Dr Abdul-Karim Soroush and Dr Ali Shariati but they did not meet any modern thinking in the 1990s. Do you agree with such vacuum of discourse?
A: Of course Shariati and Soroush are not proprietors of discourse. The fact is that a segment of our society centered on Dr Shariati in the 1950s and 1960s but we should not exaggerate about the influence of Shariati's thinking on the society. The research programs may be "productive", "unproductive" or "influential". We have had all sorts in Iran. Soroush and Shariati have definitely been influential and they can be considered a kind of cultural paradigm.

Q: In a comparison, we may consider Soroush more successful than others because he addressed significant issues and drew reactions from the universities and seminary schools. What do you think?
A: Yes, we admit that Soroush and Shariati managed to influence the universities and youth but we cannot deny other currents. We had other systems like Marxism in Iran.

Q: But Marxism could never have communications with the Iranian society and we cannot say it influenced the social developments in Iran?
A: Yes, that is right but Marxism has dominated a portion of universities. I intend to say that Shariati and Soroush did not represent the sole tendencies.

Q: The Iranian society pretends to be pluralistic from the cultural point of view. Do you agree?
A: To me, the more cultural tendencies, and the more development our society can reach. Thanks to expansion of communications and Internet we are today witnessing cultural pluralism in Iran and we do not deny it. It proves that our society is moving toward globalization.

Q: Taking into account the trend of globalization and pluralism in Iran, what do you think about future of Iran? Will Iran adapt to such a trend or it would oppose it?
A: When we have the May 23, 1997 elections, we should know that Iran is moving toward such an objective. It is not easy to resist pluralism in today's world.

Q: The Islamic and Western civilizations have reached a sensitive point in their interactions and challenges. If we fail to produce thought to influence the global culture, the West would change everything. Shall we think of remedies in the face of such vacuum?
A: Western pluralism is a global reality. Instead of mere slogans and negating such a trend, Iran had better boost collective morale and deal with this issue reasonably. We have unfortunately not taken seriously this issue to understand external cultures.

Q: Given the significant international conditions and the people's disenchantment with reforms how do you predict the prospect of developments in Iran?
A: I think that Iran is paying for its past mistakes. The Islamic Republic lost its opportunities for 20 years and is now paying the price.

Q: What solution do you propose to reduce such expenses?
A: We should do a lot for this purpose. Mr. Khatami launched reforms very well but they were thwarted for various reasons. Of course, Mr. Khatami should not take the blame for all the problems and faults. We reformists should admit our mistakes. The fact is that reformists did weakly in reproducing political development. We did not manage the affairs properly and as a result we failed to carry reforms through.

Q: To what extent should the Islamic Iran Participation Front take the blame for failure of reforms? To what extent do you feel responsible for such failure in your capacity as a reformist ideologue and strategist in Iran and notably IIPF? Don't you want to reach more clarification by criticizing the behavior of IIPF?
A: To remove the prevailing ambiguities, the IIPF is determined to offer the society a report on its six-year performance. The report is inclusive.

Q: In a meeting with a Member of Parliament, I told him that he would end up in jail with the ongoing trend! What do you think?
A: Is prison a bad place? (Hajjarian laughing) This room is like prison, isn't it? Even the parliament is like a prison and it is a matter of concern. The people voted for the MPs to do something for them but now the legislators are under pressure and they feel they are in prison.

Q: Anyhow, what do you think about future of Iran with the external pressures piling up on Iran?
A: Iran would undergo fundamental change in the future but the people would have no part in such developments. I think that Khatami is the last option for reformism in Iran. The outcome of internal pressures would appear outside the body of the society. The election of Khatami was the last reformism in Iran.

Q: Why does Mr. Khatami hesitate to make any decision? He seems to be loath to making any serious decision in the face of such sensitive juncture.
A: To me, Mr. Khatami is not the decision-maker.

Q: But Mr. Khatami can resort to such solutions as referendum or even resignation in protest against inefficient conditions. Why doesn't he seek to creep out of such crisis?
A: For personal reasons Mr. Khatami did not agree to manage the reforms and he is willing to serve as the chief executive and that is why reforms are facing numerous hurdles."

Saeed Hajjarian summoned to court, released on bail 12/2/00

Saeed Hajjarian summoned to court, released on bail: "12/2/00
Saeed Hajjarian summoned to court, released on bail

Tehran, Dec 2, IRNA -- Leading journalist Saeed Hajjarian was released on bail after he was summoned to the court on Wednesday over his remarks on the 1998 serial killings of the intellectuals and dissidents, the daily Hambastegi said here Saturday.
It said that Hajjarian was summoned after the Judiciary Head, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi had banned any comment on the serial killings. The murders were later on blamed on rogue elements within the Intelligence Ministry.

Hajjarian, a close ally of President Mohammad Khatami, remains partially paralyzed since a bullet wound pierced his cheek in March. Eight men were detained after the assassination bid.

Last week, an MP said that three suspects in his attempted assassination are in custody and two others are free on bail."