Interview about Ayatollah Khomeini (1 June 2010)

Kalemeh: We are approaching the anniversary of the departure of Imam [Khomeini.] This year the ceremonies seem different from previous years. On one side old opponents of Imam inside and outside the country try to desecrate his image and they are supported by foreign media. On the other side, there are those in State TV and the strong advocates of imprisonments that promote and image of the Imam that advocated oppression. What is your opinion on the goals that these groups seek? And what may this end with?

If the unintended collaboration of the State TV and opponents of Imam in desecration of his image is allowed to continue and is not responded to, it would end with nothing but hatred towards our past. These new images are introduced by constant meddling in the original perception of Imam and the revolution. Those who have directly experienced those years with Imam perceive and image of him that has no proximity to what is being promoted right now. The revolution won its victory with the messages of independence, freedom and the Islamic republic. It was these messages that gained the support of people. People gave Imam a unique welcome in the days of revolution on 1978. In Imam’s funeral people even came out in numbers four times more. I don’t think such crowds came out to just see and get some time off. The clips from those days clearly show the waves of emotions and opinions that people had toward Imam. Let us remember that people showed that much emotion after enduring the hardships of the war, and the early days of the revolution. If Imam’s image was even slightly close to what the State TV claims it were, then we would not have had so much people pouring the streets on his funeral, or at least we would have witnessed people being more indifferent. I think there is a lot of light to be shed on this distorted image of Imam that his mask-less opponents outside, and the authorities inside who are now turning into guards who constrain freedom.

Kalemeh: There are expensive programs being organized for anniversary of Imam’s funeral. Why do you think such a course of action is taken?

Please pay attention to the fact that the system still gets a significant amount of its legitimacy from Imam and the collective memory of people from that great character. In the current context, those currently in power that have violently constrained the legitimate freedom of others and filled the prisons, and those who promote superstition and advocate a stone-age Islam, need to excessively spend from this great social asset. Instead, when one brings forth this image, one is also highlighting the differences between those times and now which puts to question the corrupt and despotic nature of policy approaches today. A right look back at the early years of the revolution shows how far we have deviated from those goals and values that we first set. Notice that by saying to pay attention to those years does, I do not mean to return to those days. The goal is to remember the roots, and the directions that we set for the revolution: justice, freedom and spirituality.

We want to use the Islamic revolution to launch [our nation] to [a bright] future. We don’t want to create a chaotic emotional environment and lose our direction to that future. We must constantly remind our younger generations that what is happening today is different that what happened during the time of Imam. I am confident, that if for the sake of assumption, the youth of today were there yesterday, they would be amongst the martyrs like Martyr Bakeri, Bagheri or Hemmat. Just as how the youth of that time were here today, they would be the leaders of the Green Movement of Hope, and would have been probably in prisons now held captive for their national and religious beliefs.

Kalemeh: You talked of the early years and the initial goals of the revolution. But how can one talk of those years with environment of today that is bombarded with propaganda?

There are countless papers and books written and continues to be written on the Islamic Revolution in Iran and, and for obvious reasons too; because of revolution’s great impact on the region and throughout the world. After the revolution, not only Iran started to look very different, but also the whole region started to change. However, what we need today in the back and forth around the media and propaganda is promotion of a clear and visible image of that time and the Imam. As I said, there is a immature attempt to highlight ostensible similarities between now and Imam’s time and this must be stopped. For instance, you can discuss the theoretical perspective of Imam on parliament. You can break down his ideas to what was in religious scholarship and what was acceptable to people; and Recognition of parliament whether from the religious perspective or acceptability of it lays on the people. Parliament is composed of representatives of people, and these representatives come out of the people themselves.   Accordingly, the parliament is “at the forefront of the affairs.”

But more important and more effective is to recount memories that demonstrate the means of political action at the beginning of the revolution. For example I was talking to Mr Karoubi about election process during Imam’s era. He recited a memory that helps us get a more clear understanding of Imam Khomeini’s personality and the values that were dominant in society at the time. In the third parliamentary election two candidates,   a poor, hardworking intellectual teacher and   a person with ties to Imam Khomeini’s family , were running in the region of Khomein . Although a person close to Imam Khomeini was supporting the second candidate people chose the first one. The person who was a relative of Imam sent a letter to him questioning the results. Imam replied laughing , “ what is a better indication of a fair election that a person related to me , who also enjoys the support of yourself , runs for election but people chose a simple teacher who does not have such supporters “.

Isn’t this one of the beauties of election that we should be grateful for?. Compare this with the case that occured during the sixth parliamentary election in Tehran [region] were 700 ballots were cancelled to replace   an intellectual [1] who enjoyed no [state] support with an individual with relations [to high establishment officials] [2]. Or the implementation of “approbation supervision” that did not exist during Imam’s time which was in reality a mean of dividing the election in two stages. If you pay attention carefully you will see how this term that has no root in the constitution or  public wisdom has been [mis]used to disqualify a large number of valuable and caring individuals. The result has been to undermine the status and role of the parliament.

I ask all the conservative members of the parliament, who have not stained they faith with tyranny, does n’t thinking about all these humiliation directed toward parliament make you feel worried and empty?  Is the current situation you are in fitting to the meaning of this sentence “The Parliament leads all affairs”? [3] You have been incapable of scrutinizing even a small portion of the government financial irregularities and receive a proper response. What answer would you give God and his servants whom you represent? Does the current situation in the parliament has any resemblance to parliaments during the time of Imam Khomeini ?

One issue that can provide a better understanding of Imam Khomeini and also demonstrate differences between the current situation [and that time] is discussing the chain of events that lead to introduction of 8 point order by Imam Khomeini. This document without any changes can show the tragedy of the current situation including arrests and tyranny. The youth should look at this document to know where we were headed then and to which direction we are going now.   Some people in this country are destroying everything including Imam’s image and the first 10 years of revolution.   This was a project that was started in the 10th presidential election. As I said a proper introduction of Imam Khomeini and a fair introduction of the revolution will expose and scathe the politics of oppression and superstition.

Kalemeh: You are known as the prime minister of Imam Khomeni. In your speeches, statements and interviews you always speak about the bright era in the first decade of the revolution and Imam’s path. In general and in the political sphere of Iran [in particular]   , have different dimensions of Imam’s personality been exaggerated ?

Dr. Shariatie once said “ Peak of the Damavand[4] does not need a proof that it is the tallest” . Imam was an extraordinary person. He brought an irreversible change in our history , and ended the monarchy , a system that prided itself in humiliation of peasants in face of their kings. Some images from the epoch of Shah could mislead our youth. But [they ] should be reminded that one of the posters published repeatedly in newspapers of the time showed a poor peasant kissing Shah’s shoes.

In response to your question I should reiterate that Imam was an extraordinary man. But he did not perceive himself as such. He despised praise and eulogy. Once he banned national TV from showing his picture and said “ Whenever I open TV , I see myself , it make me want to puke”. He had the same ban for newspapers for a period. People who have experienced that era remember that when the top elected member of parliament from tehran praised him   [in public]    he ferociously interrupted him. This was while the MP was not expecting any gain from the praise. Similar case occurred for the head of the expediency council who was also Imam Khomeini’s student. When he lauded Imam Khomeini in public, Imam rejected his words publicly. It is not strange if we see him as a symbol of a new system that is progressive, seeks freedom and demands justice. Without his charisma and his relationship with people our nation would not have resisted for 8 years of war. Without our nation’s believe in him , we would not have survived numerous terrorist attacks during that era.

Kaleme: In any case, some members of green movement raise a question as why you repeatedly speak about Imam Khomeini or use his picture?

I referred to the necessity of introducing Imam Khomeini to the youth. But I should also discuss another point, which I have no doubt   all supporters of green movement agree on , and that is integrity. I cannot pretend against my attachment to and admiration for Imam Khomeini and revolution. Since the formation of green path of hope I clearly introduced myself as companion of green movement so I can discuss my beliefs transparently. A characteristic of this movement is transparent and honest discussion of thoughts and ideas. Exchange of ideas does not harm us. We should remember that one of the best posters regarding the movement was the one that read “lying is disallowed”. What kind of expectation requires me to ignore a ten year period full of experiences and various events. Not only me but a large number of our people have thousands of memories from Imam Khomeini. They have been influenced by that era and are not willing to keep quiet in the face of injustice and distortion toward Imam’s character. Is it correct to ignore this great political capital? Is not this what the prison guards want us to do?

Kaleme: You introduced yourself as a member of the green movement, and talked about your devotion, and love for the Imam and the revolution. You talked about how it is necessary to protect the spiritual asset that is the experiences during the Imam era. But haven’t these talks stopped you from critically viewing those times? Don’t you think that there are problems with those times as well?

I have heard this issue before, specially after the speech of Tehran’s Attorney General. There is also a letter published on one of these websites addressing this very issue. As a Shiite Muslim one of our beliefs is that after the 14 innocent ones, all the rest of God’s people are not innocent and the commit sins, unless God keeps the innocent. The same reasoning applies to Imam’s era. However, I don’t see it necessary to criticize when internal and external enemies have aimed for the Imam’s image and that era. Obviously, in the context of today, even a slight allusion to a problem would be greatly magnified just like the plot that was the tearing the picture of Imam, that was abused by enemies outside and inside the country.Today, the enemies of the green movement are looking everywhere for a prey, or an excuse to destroy that bond that connects us together. Millions in our country like and appreciate Imam, and I am one of the. Recognition of this affinity [to Imam] and the freedom that brings about is a great asset that we cannot make a mistake about specially in the current conditions. Let me repeat again, we do not expect a companion [of the movement] to lie, no matter how small a member that person is.

[1] Alireza Rajaie

[2] Gholam Ali Haddad Adel,   father in law of Ayatollah Khamenei’s son Mojatabi Khamenei.

[3] A famous quote by Imam Khomeini regarding the role of parliament

[4] The highest peak of Iran located on Alborz Mountain

Speaker or Agency: Mir-Hossein Mousavi

Title: Mousavi’s interview about Ayatollah Khomeini’s character and his era

Language: English and Persian

Western Date: 1 June 2010

Persian Date: 11 Khordad 1389

Physical/Electronic Location:;,

Citation or official document code:

Translator: Khordaad88

Date Translated: 2 June 2010

Tags: mir-hossein mousavi, interview, khomeini

Date Last Updated: 30 August 2010


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