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September 3, 2010

In the Spirit of Ramadan, Attack that Cleric

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFl-5hJ6_xM]
Since Sunday, pro-government militiamen have been gathered outside Mehdi Karroubi’s home, in effort to prevent him from attending the annual Qods Day rally that took place today. Usually a state-sponsored rally to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people, last year Karroubi and other opposition leaders marked the day by gathering tens of thousands of their supporters into the streets, resulting in violent clashes with security forces. Last month, Karroubi announced that he would attend the Qods rally this year as well.
Consequently, for the last five days, the plainclothes militia have been pelting stones, breaking windows, shooting guns, and spraying the walls of Karroubi’s home with paint and slogans like “Death to Karroubi.” Chants among the crowd have included  “We congratulate the union of the United States and Karroubi,” “We are responding, O Khamenei,” and “If only Khamenei would give us the order to fight.” Today’s attack, however, was more intense than all others, with Fatemeh Karroubi, Karroubi’s wife, claiming that it seemed as if the crowd wanted to kill her husband.
All the while, policemen stood by watching.
Both Fatemeh and Karroubi’s son Hossein Karroubi are attributing the continuation of the attacks to the Supreme Leader. In an open letter to Ayatollah Khamenei on Wednesday, Fatemeh Karroubi wrote, “These obvious crimes are taking place in your support and in front of the security forces who do not dare to approach these attackers.” Hossein Karroubi questioned Ayatollah Khamenei as well, saying, “You think of yourself to be just like Imam Ali [Shia’s first Imam]. Is this the way of Imam Ali? Is this the way of Ali, that you want to confront someone, have attacked the home of a 73-year-old man and have blockaded his home and set it on fire?”
One of Karroubi’s bodyguards, “Mr. Yari,” was even assaulted and is now in the hospital.  In addition, aside from being vandalized, Karroubi’s home also no longer has phone service, electricity or running water, leading Hossein Karroubi to compare it to Palestine and its occupation.
The ironic part is that despite all this effort, the Qods Day rally today still did not turn out the way the government wanted. In fact, Fars News Agency attacked both BBC and al-Arabiya for minimizing the turnout in their articles. Moreover, it seems that the story on Mehdi Karroubi has overshadowed the story on the Qods Day rally, an unintentional backfiring of the attack.
It is quite sad to see the Iranian government’s reliance on intimidation and threats in order to try to silence its critics and would-be reformers. As the late Ayatollah Montazeri said, it seems Iran is neither Islamic nor a republic. What is especially ironic, though, is that this attack took place during the holiest month in the Islamic calendar: Ramadan. Instead of gathering with family and friends to break the fast, reflecting on the self, or giving back to the community, some people instead chose to attack a 73-year old man and his home, somehow believing it was more Islamic. So tonight, when I break my fast, I will pray for them, and all the people of Iran.

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