May 17, 2017


FREE IRAN'S MANDELA, AYATOLLAH BOROUJERDI : The prominent cleric spent 11 years in prison for preaching religious tolerance, equality, and non-violence inside the repressive theocracy (Majid Rafizadeh, May 16, 2017, Tablet)

What sets Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi apart from other ruling clerics of Iran are the views and values he deeply adheres to. His beliefs have made him a target of continuous and excruciating methods of torture. He has been sentenced to be executed. So, what are these views and values?

Unlike Iran's other ruling clerics, Ayatollah Boroujerdi, 58, strongly believes in the separation of religion from the state. This bucks a traditional Shia view regarding the intersection of politics and religion. He also rejects the notion of velayat-e faqih, a clerical rule in politics that indicates an ayatollah or imam should preside over a nation. This alone creates a complete and violent rift between himself and the government.

To further strain matters between himself and a government focused on controlling the minds and beliefs of its captive population, Ayatollah Boroujerdi robustly supports religious freedom, opposes anti-Semitism, and established a movement in which people from different religions, including Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Baha'is, Sunni, and Shia, could gather together and celebrate peacefully. He has founded charities to help the poor regardless of their religious or political beliefs, and advocates for human rights, democratic values, peace, women's rights, social justice, freedom, and equality. His core philosophy is centered on opposing any form of violence. He has called for total acceptance and application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and he vehemently rejects terrorism and radical Islam.

Although Ayatollah Boroujerdi was not politically active, the government and dominant clergy establishment perceived him as a threat for his views and increasing popularity. The more support he gained, the larger the target on his back became. He was brought to Iran's Special Clerical Court, which according to Amnesty International is "a highly secretive body which reports directly to the supreme leader and is independent of the judiciary." He was denied access to a lawyer. He was harassed repeatedly and finally, in 2006, according to Amnesty International, he was sentenced to death after being found guilty on 30 ambiguous charges including "waging war against God" (moharebeh); acts against national security; publicly calling political leadership by the clergy (velayat-e faqih) unlawful.

Due to his popularity and pressure from the international community, the Iranian government reduced his death sentence to 11 years in prison. However, the threat of his execution still hangs over his head, as his sentence could change at any moment according to the whim of the clerical regime.

....dissent will be less threatening to the regime.

Posted by at May 17, 2017 5:58 AM