While some Iranians came out to protest on the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent presidential elections this weekend, others came out to attack Mehdi Karroubi and the offices of Grand Ayatollah Saanei and late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.
Karroubi, who traveled to Qom on Sunday for a mourning ceremony, planned on visiting Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, and the family of late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Shortly after arriving at the house of Saanei, a group of pro-regime backers encircled Saanei’s house, chanting slogans against Karroubi and Saanei. They also attacked Karroubi’s car, which despite being bulletproof, was still heavily damaged due to the severity of the attacks.
While these attacks were not particularly surprising — just another statistic added to the many other attacks this past year — what was surprising was the IRGC’s aid to Karroubi. The IRGC not only urged the violent crowds to disperse, but Karroubi also took refuge in a building owned by the Revolutionary Guards per their request until 4 in the morning on Monday when he finally left for Tehran. He escaped through a corridor made by the anti-riot police to ensure safe passing of Karroubi’s car.
As any Iranian who first points to an underlying conspiracy as the reason for an unnatural event taking place, I assumed it was the regime that set up the entire thing. Photos of Saanei’s office greatly resembled photos of university dormitories attacked by the Basij following the elections last year. Plain clothed thugs were hired by the regime, I thought, and then the IRGC came to the ‘rescue,’ showing the regime’s kindhearted nature, even to the opposition. It would serve for a brilliant propaganda campaign. But after fruitlessly searching on Press TV for any news of this event, I realized I was slightly off.
But only slightly. The place to look was Raja News, not Press TV. The state media was broadcasting the event, and of Karroubi’s flee from the people on domestic news sites, not international ones. The state-run media seemed to mock Karroubi for escaping a violent crowd — though I couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind doing differently.
And all the while, the police did nothing. Shortly after Karroubi escaped, police and security forces stood by, watching while the mob attacked Saanei’s house and office and vandalized the late Montazeri’s office. Said opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s son Hossein:
From the sudden gathering and the behavior of this group, it is obvious that they did not act by themselves and have orders.
This elaborate, and very organized plan, served the regime quite well. First of all, it allowed them to score some cheap points through the fear of violence. Also, the IRGC very deliberately prevented the mob from going too far — because the last thing they want to do is create another martyr for the opposition movement.
Iran was shaken up after the death of Neda, and again, after the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri last year. Another martyr would serve as the very flame needed to ignite the relatively smaller protests on the anniversary this year and turn them into something bigger, resembling the protests that followed the previous deaths. And so the IRGC prevented that from happening.
To be clear, this could have been a very major event — and it appears the senior leadership in the IRGC knew it.
For me, it wasn’t the violence that was surprising — thankfully, no one was hurt — it was its target: two grand ayatollahs, Montazeri and Saanei. I was looking through the pictures of Saanei’s attacked office and saw a broken mohr. A Mohr is a small clay tablet that Shi’a Muslims use to pray.
There’s no better illustration than this of what Montazeri meant when he said Iran is no longer Islamic nor a republic.