Last month’s brief troubles in Tehran - which were effectively ended by the mass rally on July 14 at which almost one million people came into Tehran’s streets to support the Islamic system and the Rahbar, Ayatullah Seyyed Ali Khamenei - were clearly manipulated by the enemies of the Islamic Revolution. It was apparent from the outset that the so-called ‘student demonstrations’ represented only a small number of people, and that their leaders were not students. It quickly became clear, moreover, that few students supported the violence during the demonstrations, especially between July 11-13.
What had started as a peaceful protest over the judicial closure of the Salam newspaper was turned into an attack on the Islamic system of government and the authority of the Vali-e Faqih. Even western newsagencies, which generally tried to play up the troubles, reported that some protesters were distributing razor-blades and urging demonstrators to attack the security forces (July 12). These were clearly people whose purpose was not to seek redress for any grievances, genuine or otherwise, but to undermine the Islamic government.
“I am sure these people have evil aims,” said president Khatami in a televised address on July 12. “They intend to foster violence in society, and we shall stand in their way... We take the security of our country and our citizens very seriously,” he said.
That the protesters had foreign backing was also evident from how the western media presented exaggerated accounts of their protests, calling them “pro-democracy” students. The west and its mouth-pieces - BBC, CNN, etc - immediately declare anyone who is pro-west to be pro-democracy. They have never used this term for protesters in Algeria who have been demanding their democratic right that was stolen by the Algerian military at gunpoint in 1992. Nor will they ever use this term for student protests against the Egyptian regime, a favourite western client, which has never held free and fair elections. However, they were forced to backtrack following the July 14 counter-rally, claiming it was officially-organised and that people had been ‘bussed in’, implying that the Islamic Republic does not enjoy the support of the masses. This was not the first time they were proved wrong.
They were even more disappointed when president Khatami condemned the rowdyism instigated by the agents provocateurs. For months, they had projected him as a ‘moderate’ who was taking on the ‘hardline mullahs’. Now the media accused him of opting for ‘a seat at the table of power’ rather than standing up for his ‘supporters’. The west expected president Khatami to support the hooligans who were attacking and burning buildings and destroying public property. He had already been dubbed ‘the Gorbachev of Iran’ - a double-edged comparison as Mikhail Gorbachev, remembered for ‘democratising’ the Soviet Union, also destroyed it in the process.
The patronising attitude of the west and its media was striking. The New York Times in particular took on the tone of an adviser to president Khatami and, when he refused to follow the west’s script, expressed great disappointment. Thomas L. Friedman, a zionist-Jewish writer with close connections to the US state department, went so far to make the preposterous suggestion in his July 20 column in the New York Times that Iran needs an “Ayatullah Deng”, referring to Deng Xiaoping of China.
Friedman wrote: “After the Tiananmen uprising, Deng offered the Chinese people a different choice: ‘Folks,’ he said, ‘here’s the new deal. You can wear what you want, work where you want, live where you want, study where you want, think at home what you want and, most of all, make as much money as you want. There is just one thing you can’t do - and that is challenge the leadership of the Communist Party.” As a final offer, Friedman, speaking on behalf of the Chinese leadership, said, “We’ll stay out of your lives, you stay out of our jobs.”
He went on to tell his readers that “this is clearly what the protesters in Iran want. They are not calling for the downfall of the Islamic Government - not yet.” This is what the Friedman and the rest of the west would dearly like to see. In October 1995, Newt Gingrich, then leader of the US house of representatives, authorised US$20 million to overthrow the Islamic State of Iran. This figure is clearly symbolic. The US Central Intelligence Agency has an annual budget of more than US$30 billion, which is not used for organising old ladies’ garden parties. The US’s record of sabotaging legitimately-established anti-western governments around the world is well-established.
It is important to understand the manner in which the west in general (and the US in particular) has tried to undermine the Islamic Republic. Trade embargoes, war, economic sabotage, and support for terrorist groups like the Mujahideen-e Khalq (popularly known as Munafiqeen) have all been tried; all have failed. In the recent disturbances, they attempted to strike at the very heart of the Islamic system: the authority of the Rahbar. This is a fundamental pillar of the Islamic system. Any weakening of the authority of the Rahbar would undermine the Islamic system.
The ulama in Iran have a long history of debate on their participation in politics, from the akhbari/usuli debate in the late eighteenth century, to the Tobacco and Constitutional uprisings (1891-92 and 1905-1911 respectively). In the context of the Islamic Revolution, however, the tone of parts of the current debate has assumed the unfortunate dimension of undermining the Islamic system. There were people even at the time of Imam Khomeini who opposed the concept of the Vali-e Faqih, hence the popular slogan, ‘marg bar zidday Velayat-e Faqih’ (Death to opponents of the Velayat-e Faqih). This slogan was once again heard, loud and clear, on July 14, when hundreds of thousands of people came out in support of the Islamic government and the Rahbar, vowing to give their blood and life for them.
Muslims must bear in mind that the US and its surrogates will use every trick to destroy the Islamic system. The level of hostility directed at the Islamic movement should warn Muslims of its true intentions. Its failure by direct means has led to the adoption of more subtle ways to undermine the Islamic system. The west’s propaganda and indoctrinational onslaught is far more dangerous than any direct military action. Some of the so-called student protesters have clearly been infatuated with western images beamed across the world by CNN, BBC and other western satellite channels.
The tragedy is that they have learnt nothing even from the experience of the Soviet Union. Before the demise of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, western propaganda promised the Russian people milk and honey if they adopted capitalism. Through western puppets, the Russian system was brought down. Today, Russia’s economy is in a state of collapse, with the vast majority of people far worse off than they were even under communism. Such political ‘freedoms’ as they enjoy are of little use with the country run by major foreign investors and the local capitalist mafia. Today, a similar attempt is being made in Iran but under the guise of western-style ‘freedom’. In a variation of Friedman’s formula, what the west offers is the freedom to succumb to personal temptations of every kind provided political and economic power is left to those subservient to the west.
Most of those who have swallowed this poisonous propaganda - whom some have dubbed the ‘jeans generation’, although they are no more than a small sector of society - played no part in bringing about the Revolution or defending it; they neither understand the meaning of freedom nor do they know what it means to make sacrifices for one’s principles. Iran’s ordinary masses - from urban areas such as South Tehran, and from the rural areas - are the ones who made the sacrifices for a Revolution which has improved their lives immeasurably. These sacrifices cannot be abandoned because a few young people demand the ‘freedom’ to succumb to the temptations of western decadence in preference to the discipline required to follow Islamic values.
The Islamic Revolution was not brought about for this; nor should the Islamic Republic allow such behaviour, regardless of what slogans these people mouth. Alhamdulillah, the overwhelming majority of the people of Iran cherish and support the Islamic system wholeheartedly. Debate about the future policies of the government of Iran is inevitable and desirable; Iran’s constitution is designed to encourage and accommodate such debate. But those who engage in it must do so responsibly and within the framework of the Islamic system. In particular, the position of the Rahbar, rooted in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and Seerah of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, must not be subjected to the whim of fleeting popular opinion.
Muslimedia: August 1-15, 1999