Sunday, November 12, 2006

Khatami Myth Busters

As expected, ex-Islamic Republic president, Mohammad Khatami, wooed and dazzled some British academics, diplomats, think tanks and church figures with his usual clever ploys of nice smiles and pretty phrases during his UK tour. It is sad to see that after all these failed Khatami years, some in the British establishment, still have such illusions about Khatami.

Below are some points which may help bust those myths.

Myth 1) Khatami himself is a nice person

Khatami did not come from nowhere. You can not be vetted as a presidential candidate by the Guardian Council and not have a history of collaboration.
Before serving as president, Khatami was the Supreme Leader's supervisor in the repressive Kayhan Institute. He was the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance during the repressive years of 1982 - 1986 and then a second term in 1989 - 1992. Khatami was also a member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution.

If there is any doubt about Khatami's commitment to the Islamic Republic, perhaps the gullible Western admirers of Khatami should read his public praise for the butcher of Evin, Lajevardi. A vile character who was responsible for the torture and execution of thousands of Iranian political prisoners including pregnant women and children. Yet the nice kind hearted reformist Khatami praised Lajevardi at his funeral, as a "valiant servant of the people and a devoted soldier of Islam."
Khatami also showered similar praises for the maniac hanging judge Ayatollah Khalkhali, the butcher of Kurdistan and a mental case who enjoyed strangling cats for fun.

Nice people do not praise mass killers.

Myth 2) - Khatami was elected by more than 20 million votes

This myth is often regurgitated in a way as if there are normal democratic elections in Iran. The fact is that not everyone can stand as a candidate in IRI elections. The candidates are closely vetted and approved by the people. Iranians were given a choice of 4 approved candidates. Even then the Supreme Leader told the people which one to vote for - Nateq-Nouri, Supreme Leader's favourite candidate. The vote for Khatami by the Iranian people, was their way of showing their disapproval to the Supreme Leader, within the narrow options they had available.

Myth 3) Khatami allowed students to protest against him

This was a myth that was repeated by Khatami himself in several of his lectures during his UK tours. Khatami's audience just did not have the knowledge to challenge him on this. Yet this is so baseless. A massive crackdown followed the student protests in July 1999, where 2000 protesters were arrested in just one day and some long term sentences were handed out to the likes of Ahmad Batebi (15 Years) and Akbar Mohammaadi (12 Years - recently killed while in prison). Khatami however refers to a meeting on Iran's National Student Day, where he was heckled by the students throughout his speech. It is true apart from a few scuffles that happened in the hall, no one was arrested on the day, but they were arrested later!
Names of those who heckled Khatami and were later arrested are known.
See: IranvaJahan Report

Myth 4) - Khatami is a reformist

Western supporters of Khatami always stumble when they get asked to name one single reform set in motion by Khatami. They generally try to attribute a youthful and less revolutionary atmosphere in Iran to Khatami. Yet the truth is that Khatami did not set any reforms in motion.
During the Khatami years, Iran was witnessing a technological revolution in communication and a profound demographic change. More and more Iranians were purchasing satellite dishes, despite the official ban. The internet took off in Iran and became an alternative source of information to the mundane state propaganda. Internet Cafes became part of the youth culture where they would meet and contact each other.

As well as the technological change, there was a demographic change taking place too. Earlier Islamic Republic birth control policies and the 8 year war against the Iraqi aggression, had resulted in a youthful population. 70% of the Iranian population were under 30. They had enough of the Islamic Republic restrictions, empty promises and rhetoric. The youth was at the point of explosion and the regime knew this.

Far from being a reformer, Khatami put the brakes on all the zeal for change in the young population. He disappointed those who had supported him and pinned their hopes on him, time and time again. Khatami failed to stick up for his closest supporters. He failed to safeguard freedom after speech. His eight years in power turned all the enthusiasm of the youthful population, who were hungry for change, into apathy and hopelessness.

If the Iranian women pushed back their scarves even further and wore more colourful clothes, it was not because of Khatami, it was because the clerics could not hold people back. Khatami should not take any credit even for such cosmetic changes.

The reformist parliament which seated Khatami's supporters, failed to pass basic reforms past the veto of the Guardian Council.
Such as:
- Raising the age of marriage for girls in Iran from 9 to 12.
- Allowing unmarried girls to study abroad
- Press liberalisation bill
- Ban on torture

Khatami was no reformist, he was a shrewd trusted establishment figure, who cunningly put the brakes on a society which desperately desired change.

Myth 5) - Khatami stands for inter faith dialogue

The mind boggles at such naive suggestions by some academics and church figures. It is so far from the truth, one wonders at the academic qualifications of those who make such statements. Far from any inter faith dialogue, the Islamic Republic is a religious apartheid, where the rights of citizens are according to their faith or lack of it.

Before I go on to the treatment of other faiths in Iran and during Khatami's presidency, lets just consider the fate of Ayatollah Boroujerdi, who is a high ranking Shiite cleric. Boroujerdi was banned from holding public sermons during Khatami's time. He was arrested with his followers after some bloody clashes outside his house. Boroujerdi's crime is that he wants a non-political Islam. There are many other dissident Shiite clerics in Iran too who are suffering terrible fates because they have not toed the state line.

Khatami lectures his Western audience about inter faith dialogue but he can not even hold a dialogue with the people of his own faith let alone other faiths.

Treatment of other faiths in Iran is even more abysmal. Sunnis Muslims are not even allowed to build a mosque in Tehran.
Sufis in Iran are violently suppressed.
Christian converts are murdered as apostates and the Bahaii are persona non gratis in Iran.

Myth 6) Khatami supports dialogue amongst civilisations

Khatami's concept of dialogue is that he holds nice sermons for selected audiences in the West who are fooled by his smiles and poetry. If Khatami really believed in dialogue, he would have met the two Iranian refugees in London who applied for his arrest because of the horrific tortures they suffered in prison when Khatami was president.

Khatami lectures the West on human rights abuses in Guantanamo etc. yet he fails, and so do his passive audiences, to make the distinction between holding foreign suspected terrorists and detaining your own citizens for just thinking differently from the state sponsored ideology.

When human rights abuses take place in democracies, the media and others write and speak out against such abuses. When such abuses take place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, they are not talked about. When Khatami cleverly dodges the human rights abuses that took place during his time and refers to examples outside Iran, he is not comparing like with like.

Myth 7) Khatami Did not know about human rights abuses during his presidency

This is such a lame excuse and sadly one used by the Metropolitan police who refused to arrest him. It is impossible for Khatami not to have known about human rights abuses in his time, and he is part of the collective responsibility that led all the abuse.

There are numerous cases of human rights abuses which got international publicity during his presidency. Like the case of Iranian born, Canadian photo-journalist, Zahra Kazemi, who was beaten up and raped in prison.

Morris Copithorne's report of human rights abuses in Iran itself shows the tip of the iceberg when it comes to human rights abuses that took place during Khatami's presidency.

Even the non-political abuses of human rights, such as the execution of the 16 year old teenage girl, Atefeh Sahaleh for "crimes against chastity", must have been known to Khatami. These crimes all happened during his 8 years as president.

And surely Khatami should have at least read the horrific letter of conditions in Iran prisons and the extent of torture applied by no less than the head of the judiciary in Iran himself, Ayatollah Shahroodi.


Anonymous said...

Yesterday, Khatami also defended Hashemi against the arrest order by the Argentine court. When the going gets tough, the mollahs unite.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

Current lack of sustained
engagement with Iran harms U.S. interests in a critical region of
the world and that direct dialogue with Tehran on specific areas
of mutual concern should be pursued.


Azarmehr said...


You are becoming so repetetive with your "engagement", as if this would solve everything.
America had a presence in Iran during the 1979 revolution and it was a disaster. The US ambassador in Iran referred to Khomeini as the Gandhi of Iran :))
Engagement has to be on all fronts and include the Iranian opposition. It also has to be intelligent engagement not the kind we have seen from the European countries in the last 27 years, who have just promoted the Islamic regime, everytime they got induced with some "lucrative" deal.

Bardia said...

thanks, you try well to show the real face of him. you know, you and your friends in london must do it too widely because in europe there's no clear opinion about him and his actions under the devil's smile.

Anonymous said...

داستان آخوند خاتمی، ببخشيد حضرت حجت الاسلام حاج کربلايی مشهدی آقا دکتر سيد محمد خاتمی، داستان رياست جمهوری در ايران است. نگاهی بيندازيم به کوتوله هاي سيا سی که صاحب منصب اين شغل شده اند. بعد منظورم روشن می شود.
نخستين آنها سيد ابوالحسن ميرزا بنی صدر بود. تاريخ از وی به عنوان کسی ياد خواهد کرد که موی زنان را دارای اشعه می دانست، بيسواد بود ولی در کمال پررويی خود را خدای علم اقتصاد می دانست، گول آرای انتخابات دروغينی که وی در آن به منصب گماشتگی امام بزرگوارش منصوب شد را خورد و فکر کرد خبری است و جلوی پدر خوانده اش ايستاد و وقتی قافيه را تنگ ديد سبيل تراشيد، چادر سياه بر سر فرار کرد. بعد دختر به سرکردة تروريستها داد و سالها نامه به نام رئيس جمهور منتخب امضا می کرد.
رئيس جمهور بعدی کسی بود به نام رجائی. آنقدر بی اهميت است که تاريخ از او نامی نخواهد برد. شايد در حاشيه ای بنويسند که دلقکی کرد و در مجمع عمومی سازمان ملل کفش و جوراب از پا در آورد تا کمی اشک مردم بريزد. بعد قربانی آدمکشی های درون رژيمی شد.
کوتولة بعدی که حکم رياست جمهوری خود را از امام جمکران گرفت همين رهبر معظم انقلاب فعلی است که به روايتی نام خانوادگی واقعی او پايين خيابانی است. همين نام، تمام فرهنگ خانوادگی وی را به نمايش می گذارد. از نکات برجستة دوران رياست جمهوری وی زبونی و بی ارادگی وی است. به مخالفتهايی که با سلمان رشدی می شد نيمچه اعتراضی کرد ولی وقتی امام بزرگوارش به او تشری زد، سرنوشت ابوالحسن ميرزا را به ياد آورد و به سوراخی خزيد. از ايرانی بودن چيزی ندارد. حتا شالی که به گردن می اندازد فلسطينی است.
کوتولة بعدی دو سانتی قدش بلند تر از رفقايش است. اهل کسب و کار و تجارت و بده و بستان است. از پسته کاری و بسازوبفروشی شروع کرد، بعد نوبت به آباد کردن ايران رسيد. به کارش وارد است. رهبر معظم انتخاب می کند، با آمريکايی ها لاس میزند و کيک و انجيل جايزه می گيرد. دلش می خواهد تاريخ از او به نام امير کبير دوم نام ببرد، دستکم لقب سردارسازندگی را از آن خود می داند. غافل از آنکه تاريخ او را به عنوان فاسد ترين صاحب منصب تاريخ معاصر و شايد تمام تاريخ ايران می شناسد.
نفر بعدی در سلسلة رييس جمهوران کسی نيست جز همين خاتمی، آخوند شياد دغلبازکه در کمال بی شرمی مردم ايران را به بازی گرفته است. داستان آن مردی را به ياد می آورد که خود می گفت و خود می خنديد. کسی است که از تمدن بويی نبرده است ولی دم از گفتگوی تمدنها می زند. نمی دانم آيا کسی از او پرسيده است يا نه که گفتگوی تمدنها به تو چه مربوط است؟ تو اهل گفتگو هستی يا اهل تمدن؟ در حال حاضر کابينة سايه را تشکيل داده است. مسافرتهايش به خارج با اين هدف صورت مي گيرد که باز صورت زشت جمهوری اسلامی را بزک کند. آمريکا و اروپا نيز از اين اقدام او استقبال می کنند. نقش اصلی او آرايشگری است. تاريخ نيز از اين رو از او به نام فريبا خاتمی ياد خواهد کرد.
جانشين بر حق ابوالحسن ميرزا، مممد علی رجايی، سيد علی پايين خيابانی، کوسه و فريبا خانم، همين شاخ پسر محمود مشنگ است. او تمام خوبی های اسلاف خود را در خود گرد آورده است. زبان در روايت ارزشهای وی لال است. آنقدر خوب و معصوم است که در آن روز بزرگ که جهانيان را به راه راست هدايت کرد، هالة نوری دور کلة مبارکش نمايان بود و بزرگان جهان از بس که مبهوت او شده بودند حتا پلک نيز نزدند.
در اين بازار مکاره که نام جمهوری اسلامی دارد همه چيز بنا به شرايط داخلی و خارجی بايد يافت شود. از خاتمی گرفته تا احمدی نژاد. هر کدام در جايی مورد استفاده دارند

Anonymous said...

Let's face it. The US agenda for the region is the antithesis of what the mullahs's envision for the M.E. Is the US going to give up on her agneda which is directly tied to its strategic, economic, and National security??? All this talk business is window dressing and the idiot mullahs are no fools.

Anonymous said...

Well done PASH. Dorood bar shuma.

Anonymous said...

Well done PASH. Dorood bar shuma.

Anonymous said...

Under Myth 4, you imply that there is a law in Iran NOT "Allowing unmarried girls to study abroad". What is your source for this? This claim is absolutely false. I can count for you numerous unmarried girls, including myself, who came from Iran to study abroad within recent years.

If this is due to mis-information, it is admireable to see you correct it. If it is propaganda, why would you go that way? It just weakens your arugument and position, and creates doubts towards every other argument you put forward.

Azarmehr said...


The bill was introduced by Fatimeh Haghighatjou, see:

I should have written it like this:
The bill to allow women to study abroad without having to obtain permission from their husbands or brothers.

Perhaps you are lucky that your father or brothers approved for you to study abroad, but think of the unlucky ones too.

Anonymous said...

، NASR خانم
من برای برای رسيدن به آزادی و برقراری حقوق بشر در ايران تلاش می کنم، اميدوارم که شما نيز دارای آرمان های آزاديخواهی برای وطن عزيزمان باشيد.
يکی از اصلهای حقوق بشر ـ منظور من حقوق بشر است و نه پديدة ساختگی و تقلبی حقوق بشر اسلامی است، حقوق بشر اسلامی ارزانی ملا عمر و سيد علی پايين خيابانی ـ برابری زن و مرد در برابر قانون است. تعجب می کنم که يک مرد ايرانی بايد برای يک زن هموطن خود توضيح بدهد که در جمهوری فاشيستی اسلامی يک زن از همان اندک حقوقی که آخوند های مرتجع برای مردان قائل شده اند نيز بی بهره است
لطف کنيد و اگر ريگی در کفش نداريد و اگر قصدتان از اين اظهار نظرتان به قول خودتان پروپاگاندا نيست به اين پرسش من پاسخ دهيد
چرا يک زن مجرد سی سالة ايرانی برای مسافرت به خارج از ايران، حال برای تحصيل و يا هر دليل ديگر بايد از پدر خود اجازه بگيرد؟

Anonymous said...

آفرين پاشا!! more power to you!

P.S. Thanks, such a great post!