Association of the Devotees of the Islamic Revolution
Jam’iyat-e Isargaran-e Enqelab-e Islami
The Isargaran (lit. devotees) is the ideological continuation of the right wing of the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution after the latter was dissolved in 1986. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is one of the founders of the party.
During the 1980s, tensions emerged between a left wing and a right wing in the Organization of the Mojahedin. While left-wing members were particularly influenced by Ali Shariati and adhered to a more individualized and intellectual notion of Islam, the right wing regarded the clergy as the only legitimate interpreters of Islam. In the political realm, the left wing backed a degree of independence for lay politicians, whereas right-wing members were of the opinion that all political activities must be under tight supervision, leadership, and guidance of the clergy. Socioeconomically, the left faction largely emanated from the educated urban middle class, while one can trace the background of the right wing to suburban and rural areas, as well as peasant families. During the Iran-Iraq war, right wing members often served as middle-rank officers in the Basij and the Corps of the Revolutionary Guards.
The Isargaran party was founded in 2001. The party’s serious political activities began with the second municipal elections in 2003. Due to the low turnout in Tehran (only 700,000 voters), the right-wing coalition to which the Isargaran belonged won all fifteen seats of the Tehran Municipal Council. Mas’ud Zaribafan, a member of the Isargaran’s Central Committee, gained one of the fifteen seats. The new Municipal Council selected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of the founders and members of the Central Committee of the Isargaran, as Mayor of Tehran.
In the 2004 parliamentary elections, Isargaran was in charge of the societal committee of the Council for Coordinating the Revolutionary Forces (CCRF) [Shora-ye Hamahangi-ye Niru-ha-ye Enghelab], a pre-election coalition of right-wing groups under the directorship of Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri. In this election, which was boycotted by the reformist parties such as the IIPF, the right-wing coalition won the election and Isargaran managed to send some of its members, such as Hosein Fadayi and Elias Naderan, to the parliament. In addition to the official members who became members of parliament, there were also other prominent members of the parliament who were very close to Isargaran, such as Qolam Ali Haddad Adel, who became speaker of parliament in 2004, and Ahmad Tavakkoli, the head of the Research Center of the Parliament [Markaz-e Pajuhesh-ha-ye Majles-e Shora-ye Eslami]. Outside the parliament, Ezatolah Zarqami, the director of the National Radio and Television, also has close ties with the Isargaran.
In the 2005 presidential election, although Ahmadinejad was one of the group’s founders, the Isargaran backed another candidate, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who lost to Ahmadinejad. In the 2008 parliamentary elections, the Isargaran succeeded in retaining their seats. Yet this time their choice for the speakership, again Haddad-Adel, lost to Ali Larijani. In the 2009 presidential elections, notwithstanding their critical positions on some of Ahmadinejad’s policies, they were one of the most important supporters of Ahmadinejad during the presidential campaign.
In their political platform, the Isargaran believe in the Absolute Guardianship of the Jurist – that is the absolute authority of the Supreme Leader – and reject democratic and liberal values. In respect to the economy, they favor centralized decision-making about economic issues. In the social realm, an illustrative example of the Isargaran’s positions is the “Bill of Family Protection,” which was proposed in the 8th parliament and caused widespread opposition from women activists and even some traditional high-ranking clerics in the Qom seminary. The bill decreed that the husband would not need the permission of his first wife to marry a second wife. Isargaran members such as Fatemeh Alia were among the bill’s authors. Due to the domestic opposition, it never became a law.
Among the prominent members of the Isargaran are Hosein Fadayi, the Secretary-General of the party; Elyas Naderan, a member of the 7th and 8th parliaments; Fatemeh Alia, a member of the 7th and 8th parliaments; Eshrat Shayegh, member of the 7th and 8th parliaments; and Mehdi Kuchakzadeh, member of the 7th and 8th parliaments.
According to the Isargaran’s foundational statutes, the nine founders of Isargaran (including Ahmadinejad) are also members of the Central Committee. In addition to these nine members, the Congress elects twelve other members of the Central Committee, and four substitute members, every other year.
Official Website: http://isargaran.org/
“Az Sazman-e Mojahedin-e Enghelab Ta Jam’iat-e Isargaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami.” 2008. Sepehr. http://sepehrnews.ir/?p,14500.