Date: December 23, 2009
The former president of our country, Mr. Mohammad Khatami, expressed his grave disappointment from the attacks on the mourners of Ayatollah Montazeri, and objected to lies that some [in the establishment] spread around in the name of the Islamic Republic. He also alluded to news of his writing a letter to the supreme leader and called it a forged document and a big lie.
Title: Meeting of Seyed Mohammad Khatami with members of the public council of the Islamic Committee at University of Tehran
In this meeting and in light of incoming days of Ashoora and Tassooa in the holy month of Moharram (Shiites, and in particular Iranians, have been mourning the murder of their third Imam, Hossein, the quintessential martyr, since his death in the battle of Karbala on October 10, 680, which falls on Ashura, the 10th day of Moharram. Mohammad Khatami referred to the recent letter the he has allegedly sent to the supreme leader and clarified: “If I wanted to react to all the lies and stories, I would need to stop everything else. Of course I do not want to. But In recent days I have been alleged to have written a letter to the supreme leader. [Same people who have made the allegations] have rumored the supreme leader has took a position and has reacted to the letter. I don’t know how absurd and how bold one should get to allow themselves to make such allegations. These are all lies. One could only seek refuge to God with such forgeries and lies in the name of the establishment.
He continued by emphasizing on the reading of Quran, Surah Al-Fajr and alluded to an anecdote from Imam Sadegh (6th Imam of Shiite): Read Surah Al-Fajr as often as you can, it refers to my great grandfather Hossein (the 3rd Imam of Shiite)
Imam Hossein is the symbol of the strength of spirit that is, committed to virtue, barred from any vice. The purpose of creation of the skies and the earth is the development and blossoming of human nature. Such a development would be achieved only if confidence and strength of spirit is achieved and such strength is achieved only if one achieves the peaks of faith. Peak of faith means one has to become as strong as a mountain, stable and immovable [by doubts.] He who achieves the strength of spirit has achieved becoming whole, achieved becoming a human in its completion; such is a human who is calm, successful and prosper.
“Fear and grief has no way to their hearts.” Such is how The Almighty describes the true faithful of his followers. All the problems and issues that lead to pain and misery are rooted in either fear or grief. A place where there is no fear or grief is like heaven, and he who is faithful is he whose heart is free from fear and grief. I don’t mean that this world is without grief or fear. What I mean is that a confident soul would stand up to these issues, just like how Imam Hossein did.
Most important quote of Imam Hossein is what he said just before leaving the city of Madinah: “I am satisfied with what god is satisfied with.” And his last words were: “Dear almighty, I am satisfied with what you are satisfied with; I give in to your command.” Such a seeking for [God’s] satisfaction is a sign of strength in spirit.
Moharram is the month of Imam Hossein. It is a month when he decided to ensure the survival and continuation of Islam, this magnificent tree amidst storms of hypocrisy, lies and injustice with the purpose of encouraging virtue and discouraging from vice. If somebody made a mistake we must encourage them to virtue and discourage them from vice based on the criteria that Islam has provided not by the force of batons and through violence. The virtue that raised Imam Hossein from his home [to the battlefield] was the virtue of resistance against an oppressive regime. The virtue and vice here are the very concerns that people have over [control of] their destinies, over deviations [from the path forward] and bravery and courage to speak for what is right and just to the point of putting lives on the line.
The former president then told the audience: One of the most important duties of universities and Islamic committees within them is to provide criticism, state the problems, and stand against deviations. These are basic necessities to survival of freedom. Freedom is not chaos, and immorality. Freedom is what allows a person can speak his mind and criticize those in power with bravery. Freedom is reducing and removing the costs of criticism and protests in society.
In a crowd years ago [when I was president] people were chanting the slogan that wished death for someone. I asked them to avoid sending message of death; our slogans are the slogans of life. Our slogans are slogans like “Viva my opponent.” This viva means that if there are no opponents our governments despite the abundance of resources and advantages could still make great mistakes, and deviate from the right path.
Worse than the ‘death to …’ slogan is to label [as looters] and react with violence to anyone who dose oppose certain policies even if their dissent is based on fundamental [of the revolution.] This is an important deviation and must be corrected and the condition for it is the existence of freedom; just like how the constitution has ordered; the same freedom that Ayatollah Khomeini talked about. Is it not true that the Islamic Republic was made on pillars of freedom and independence? If such pillars grow loose and unstable then we’ll be facing problems like dependence, and would fall into authoritarianism. We cannot expect the ideals of the Islamic Republic to flourish if basic freedoms are denied. In the Islamic republic leaders must be chosen by and responsible towards their people.
Today we are witnessing that Islamic Committees are constrained. They can’t act as the vehicle for Imam’s thoughts and ideas and criticize in society. Today even members of such Islamic committees are constrained; never mind those who are not members! Universities are home to freedom, and our students and professors should feel this freedom and security.
Chairman of the Dialogue of the civilizations institute elaborated regarding grief of students from the passing of Ayatollah Montazeri: “This great and honorable man was one of the pillars of resistance against the totalitarianism, dependence [to foreign powers], and injustice in the society prior to the revolution that came out victorious with the leadership of Imam [Khomeini.] He was prominent religious scholar, knowledgeable, reasonable and quoted. He was the person about whom Imam [Khomeini] had last said that he must be support, and warmth of the seminary schools. As you are well aware, this great man was always the defender of Islam and fundamentals of the Islamic republic for as long as he lived. It is possible that some would not like all stages of his life, but it is the what paths you choose in your life that should be the criteria of judgment. His depth and extent of knowledge allowed him to pave a new ways with regards to doubts and questions in studies of Islam, and he left behind invaluable pieces of work as a result. When there were doubts [on contradictions of Islam and civil rights] he would step in with his extensive knowledge of Islam and would clarify the views of Islam on civil rights.”
Seyed Mohammad Khatami alluded to masses of people at his funeral and said: “Definitely, if the environment was better, more people would have attended the funeral of that great figure. The fact that the supreme leader thanks for his great contributions through the reconciliation message shows the will of the establishment to hold a high dignity and value for such a person. Unfortunately, with what happened to the mourners and intimidations, the family of the departed could not even organize simple funeral rituals. Who is committing such actions?
The politics of the country are polluted with lies, deceit and slanders. No one would accept that the best children of the revolution are deviating from the path of the revolution through slanders and labels. It is even worse when such slanders are made in the name of establishment.
If I wanted to react to all the lies and stories, I would need to stop everything else. Of course I do not want to. But In recent days I have been alleged to have written a letter to the supreme leader. [Same people who have made the allegations] have rumored the supreme leader has took a position and has reacted to the letter. I don’t know how absurd and how bold one should get to allow themselves to make such allegations. These are all lies. One could only seek refuge to God with such forgeries and lies in the name of the establishment. If this is the way the responsible officials want suppress the devotees of the revolution from their protests and criticisms towards the wrong method [of the establishment] then they are going down the wrong path.
Constraining devotees of the revolution would bring about nothing but help bring along those who believe in nothing and no one. The greater danger is that radical movements finish the job in the name of Islam and create a feeling of reluctance toward Islam in the society. This is something that the devotees of the Islam and the establishment can not accept.
We are proud to say that we are advocates of freedom in the system of Islamic republic. We take pride in saying that the Islamic republic gave men and women the power and courage to stand up and speak their minds; [in a] revolution that wants us at the peaks of development and maturity. If some see that current policies are pushing us further and further away from such peaks, they have every right to criticize the policies and enlighten others about them. It is the right and responsibility of real devotees of the country and the revolution to defend the votes of people, their legitimate freedom, the constitutional right of citizens.”
Seyed Mohammad Khatami emphasized on continuing on the path of reforms: “Reforms means that if there were deviations in the policies and behaviors [of the government] reforms take place based on criteria of constitution and ideas of revolution that are legacy of the departed Imam [Khomeini] and results of many blood spilled. According to this definition, reforms are one and the same with defending the revolution and Islam. Those who create a hideous face for the establishment to world through their actions are not in line with establishment.
I hope in the light of the almighty, we would pay more attention to the value and dignity of this month [of Moharram] so that we may be witness to reforms in the affairs of the country. I hope the environment would become more calm and healthy so that people’s rights would not be taken away from them and so that activities of university students and free-thinking and intellectual clerics, and professors would bring them no costs. This is to the benefit of Islam and the revolution. If the environment is open, criticisms would lead to reforms in the affairs. If there is no voice from the opponents, should a deviation happen, it would continue further and further down the wrong path and in that context we all now what will happen.”