Letter to Shariatmadari regarding Keyhan’s articles (29 April – 1 May 2009)

In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful, 

“God protect [us] from the satanic suggestions and obsessions of devils…” (Mu’minoon Surah, Verse 97)

Mr. Hossein Shariatmadari

Managing Editor of Keyhan newspaper


In the Wednesday edition of your newspaper on 29 April 2009, according to your usual custom and past precedents, two independent but connected articles were published against me. These articles, one penned in a humorous tone and the other with national security concerns in mind, disrespected me and smeared my name.  My friends and colleagues were not forgotten either. In these articles, acting not as a journalist but as someone connected to the country’s security apparatus, you shamelessly accused my friends and myself of association with the Zionist regime.   


Regretfully, in the Islamic Republic, a regime that owes its existence to the blood of martyrs, the pen is in the hand of an individual [Shariatmadari] who is supposed to represent the Supreme Leader in the most prestigious governmental newspaper yet does not follow the Supreme Leadership path. Contrary to his responsibilities, he takes advantage of his position and of the public assets that are in his control to establish an entity to produce lies.

After a lifetime of pretending to be on the side of the people, playing the role of an Iranian Pravda, smearing the name of marjah-i taqlids and other enlightened religious thinkers and public servants, you have now attempted to come after me. I have never attempted to defend myself. By using my name, age, and reputation, I have always tried to defend the smeared reputation of others and to defend the unjustly violated rights of others. In this way, and by being a centrist, I have always defended the Islamic Republic, the Islamic Revolution, and the Imam’s [Khomeini’s] path. 

But now it is my turn to benefit from Keyhan’s kindness and sarcastic remarks. It appears that Keyhan is tired of altering my words and has started to insult me. I have repeatedly ignored Keyhan’s attempts to alter my words and have refused to respond to them because, in my view, attempts to alter the public’s trust of the reformists have been unsuccessful and unworthy of any response from me. But now Keyhan has crossed the line and it is attacking my friends. I do not see any other way but to answer you once and for all and give you a final ultimatum. I am not Saeedi Sirjani. You are talking to Mehdi Karroubi. My family, my father, and my fifty years of experience and political struggle in the path of the revolution are clear.

Of course, I realize that in this country anyone and everyone, from Saeedi Sirjani to your friend Saeed Emami, is a victim of your accusatory pen and damned to be vilified. In our culture of theosophy and moral behavior, talking about oneself is looked down upon, but my role model is Imam Ali. He lived during a period of inhumanity where his devotion to Islam, faith, and daily prayers were questioned. They humiliated him by comparing him to Moavieh, the son of Abi Sufyan. He raised his voice and spoke about his past, Islam, his accompanying of Islam’s prophet, and fighting in the righteous army of God.

Today is just like that day [referring to Imam Ali’s experience] as individuals like you question the experience and devotion of Iran’s children and Imam Khomeini’s companions. No one is able to challenge you, and if someone has the ability, they have chosen to remain silent. But I won’t stay silent and I will never forget your persecution of marjah-i taqlids, enlightened Muslims, and even intellectuals. Who does not recognize my past relationships with marjah-i taqlids and other religious scholars? Who does not recognize my support for Imam Khomeini over many other marjah-i taqlids from the beginning? Is this an excuse for me to stay silent when Keyhan smears the name of the aforementioned marjah-i taqlids?  Who does not recognize my relationship (particularly during the beginning years of the Islamic Republic) from certain enlightened national and religious thinkers? Who does not remember how I preferred Imam Khomeini’s path to many other paths and political parties without any hesitation? But does this allow me to close my eyes when [Keyhan] desecrates the name of individuals such as Mohandes Bazargan, whose piety was never questioned?  Shouldn’t Imam Khomeini’s school of thought and the Islamic traditions force us to speak up against such injustices? Shouldn’t Islamic traditions deter managing editors of Keyhan and producers of TV programs such as Hoviyat to insult authors and enlightened thinkers of this land, such as Dr. Abdolhossein Zarrinkoob and Dr. Abbas Zaryab Khoi. Shouldn’t the words of Imam Ali that “no one can blame a Muslim who dies from the news of harm done to a Jewish woman” be our motto?


Mr. Shariatmadari,

On the basis of what religious or seminary education did you protest the content of my statement about the necessity of correcting the law which permits the punishment of minors?

In what school or university did you study Islamic law or religion? The execution of minors is a legal and religious matter. Only legal and religious scholars are allowed to express their opinion on this topic.  Of course each opinion ought to be examined scientifically and should not be ridiculed or mocked in the name of humor. In Islamic law there is no doubt about the punishment of execution in retaliation for a deliberate murder, unless the plaintiff agrees to forgo his or her right. According to the same religious law, children are exempt from this punishment. The only discussion and disagreement about minors, who are refereed to as Sabi or children in Islamic law, is their age. All Islamic law experts agree on the fact that if Sabi, or children, commit a deliberate murder they should not be sentenced to death; instead the family of the murdered individual should accept blood money. There are limited quotes by the prophet and Imams concerning this subject and the context of each story is different, which causes disagreement among religious scholars about what it means to be a Sabi or a child. Some Islamic law scholars have referred to certain hadiths and have said that children are individuals less than fifteen years of age. Some hadiths have referred to the physical growth of the individual and not their age. One hadith has specifically mentioned the height of the person in question. Some fatwas have referred to the physical and sexual growth of the individual. Other individuals believe that environmental and climate conditions affect the maturity of an individual and because of this inconsistency, the word Sabi, or child, refers to individuals less than eighteen years of age.

It is according to this reality that our judiciary, under the management of a knowledgeable expert of Islamic law, has written several memos to various judges about the execution of minors.  The judiciary has also recently submitted a draft of a bill concerning the same topic to the Parliament. In my opinion, as a cleric, in our country’s climate, children reach maturity well after the age of fifteen. The issue of tending to religious duties is different from legal matters and a law needs to be passed to ban the execution of individuals under the age of eighteen.

In the opinion of individuals who work for Keyhan, tell me what part of my view and that of others who agree with me, including our judicial branch, is connected to the Zionist regime? Do you support the execution of people under the age of eighteen? Do you think whoever does not agree with you is an agent of the Zionist regime? What do the Zionists prefer? Minors to be executed in Iran so they could propagandize against the Islamic Republic or when a cleric who supports the Islamic regime and who has been a companion to Imam Khomeini requests for this punishment to be canceled? Hasn’t God Almighty said in the Quran, “If you kill an individual unjustly, it is like you have killed all human beings, and if you save someone from an unjust death, it is like you have saved all human beings.”? When will we act on these kind words from God and steer away from violence? How do you allow yourself to label pious and Muslim individuals heretics and Zionists? Who do you think you are and what do you think your position is? 

In the past, many aspects of life were forbidden or were necessary to perform under Islam, but with new research and fatwas issued by the ulama, they are now allowed or not required any more. For example, religious decrees before the revolution related to well water, to how contaminated water could pollute an entire well, and to how it was not recommended to eat fish that contained caviar. Yet, with Imam Khomeini and other marjah-i taqlid’s fatwas, it became acceptable to eat them. The important issue of women’s suffrage is another example. Many ulama objected women’s right to vote before the revolution–after the revolution women gained the right to vote and to be engaged. So, the reality and ever evolving nature of knowledge and curiosity can never be questioned by your reasoning abilities.

The reason behind your agitation is not my statement. The reason behind your bold behavior is fear of the results of the next election. During the election you have changed Keyhan into a campaign office specifically dedicated to one candidate. In the name of publishing news about the current government, you have changed into a podium for the head of the government. You are hoping for the extension of the current government’s term. Against the will of the Supreme Leader, you have changed a publicly funded newspaper into a private institution. After witnessing the people’s support for your opposition, you became anxious and recklessly lost control and started to curse. It is shocking to remember that during the Shah’s regime, members of the Tudeh Party and Rastakhiz Party joined the SAVAK and tortured and persecuted the political fighters and prisoners. But now, after the revolution, some individuals who were against the revolution are pretending to be journalists and have infiltrated certain newspapers. These newspapers, funded by the public, now insult the companions of Imam Khomeini and the revolution. These papers one day desecrate the name of enlightened thinkers, and another day insult national and religious icons, and sometimes even attack religious and ethnic minority group leaders. They have even attacked the family of Imam Khomeini and his respected grandson. Thus, Keyhan has become a base for the promotion of violence, separation, and sectarian divisions. 

Where do you think you will end up by following this path? Isn’t this path miles away from the paths of Imam Khomeini and the Supreme Leader? Have you asked for forgiveness from the pious women about whom you have spread lies in Keyhan’s articles? You have invaded their private lives and have created pseudo-legal cases in order to ruin their reputation. How could you, in the afterlife, meet the spirits of the prophet’s family, ulama, and religious scholars whom you have insulted?

The 12 June 2009 presidential election is a national test for Iranians. Anyone who could be a good public servant has the right to register as a candidate.  Until today only four individuals have announced their readiness. The law has clearly indicated the roles of each organization. The newspaper Keyhan, which is considered a public good, should follow its legal responsibility, which is to stay neutral. Why does Keyhan publish articles against two of the presidential candidates and write articles praising another? With what right does Keyhan print false news and threatening articles against Mohandes Mir Hossein Mousavi and myself? In these threats you mention how “qualified individuals” will take care of me. Are you their representative or secret agent? How can you speak about the unknown so clearly?

Mr. Shariatmadari,

It is true that during the 2005 election my rights were trampled, but this election is different. [It is not like the 2005 elections] when at around 10:00pm the Keyhan newspaper, even before the ballots were counted, announced the results of the election in its front-page headline and ranked the candidates. During the past four years I have published the Etemad Melli newspaper. I know well when the first page of a paper is closed. I am very familiar with how unrealistic news gets to the managing editor. You have accused me of illiteracy. I am not sure in what school, university, or seminary you studied. Knowing the fact that you have access to security archives and a rich intelligence apparatus at your disposal, I am surprised to see that you are not accessing my file. You keep a file on everyone you are interested in. By looking at it you will learn that I studied at Tehran University before the Islamic Revolution and that I have also received my theology degree by the hands of respectable marjah-i taqlids from both Tehran and Qom seminaries. Unless you want to tell me, you have seen these degrees and you still do not have any respect for these professors and teachers as well. If this is the case, your excuse is worse than the sin you are committing.  You are insulting the Imam of our nation and the father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini. He was the one who, based on your judgment of me, granted an illiterate individual with various posts and positions. There are many close friends of Imam Khomeini among my companions. I am not sure if you have even personally met the Imam in your lifetime.

Your plan is to create divisions between my friends and myself. Through empty accusations such as an alleged affiliation with the Zionist regime, you are trying to distract us from defending citizens’ rights and reforming the current governing laws. But remember that these goals are not related to elections, they are my goals in life. I declare that I never say a word unless I truly believe it and I never make a decision without consulting others. So be sure to know that I both write and read, especially the newspaper Keyhan. Under your management this paper has left a black record of insulting the great minds of our country.

Mr. Shariatmadari,

In conclusion, I warn and advise you to control yourself and not to cross the line. Allow the people to benefit from their right to choose without any suggestions or harm done by you.

Mehdi Karroubi

1 May 2009

11 Ordibehesht 1388

Speaker or Agency: Mehdi Karroubi

Title: Karroubi’s letter to Shariatmadari regarding Keyhan’s articles, published on April 29, 2009

Language: English and Farsi

Western Date: 1 May 2009

Persian Date: 11 Ordibehesht 1388

Physical/Electronic Location: http://www.entekhabnews.com/portal/index.php?news=3827

Citation or official document code: 

Translator: Reza Akbari

Date Translated: 8 July 2010

Tags: mehdi karroubi, hossein shariatmadari, keyhan

Date Last Updated: 12 July 2010

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