Monday, August 29, 2005

Iran: The Islamic Revolution is complete.

Date: Monday 29 August 2005
Subj: Iran: The Islamic Revolution is complete.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.

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IRAN: THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION IS COMPLETE.
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Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has flooded the Majlis (parliament) with former Revolutionary Guards while Ayatollah Khamenei has made key changes in security structures and strategies to entrench the Revolutionary Guards' hegemony over all law enforcement agencies. (Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was established by Ayatollah Khomeini in May 1979 as a force, under the direct command of the clerics, to consolidate the Islamic Revolution.) (Link 1)

The following posting shows clearly how Iran has begun to enact a policy of zero-tolerance towards breaches of the ideals of the Islamic revolution. It does not require much imagination to see how much pain and trauma Christians, other non-Muslims and freedom-loving Persians are destined to experience as Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad forcefully advance their Shi'ite vision of a pure Islamic State.

A NEW ERA OF "ISLAMIC GOVERNMENT"

On Wednesday 3 August, former Revolutionary Guard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in as the sixth President of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad pledged to restore an "Islamic government" in Iran, implying, as Iran Focus notes, "...that the previous administrations of Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami had distanced themselves from the policies of the founder of the Islamic state, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini." (Link 2: includes a biography of Ahmadinejad.)

On 14 August, President Ahmadinejad presented his list of cabinet nominees to the Majlis Speaker, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel. According to Iran Focus, only two of the 21 persons nominated by Ahmadinejad for ministerial appointments had previously held ministerial posts, while at least 13 were former commanders of the Revolutionary Guards and its affiliated agencies, and five were former officials in Iran's notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and revolutionary prosecutor's office.

Hardliners gained control of the parliament in 2004, so it was not anticipated that there would be any difficulty having the nominations passed. However, the inexperience and obscurity of some of the nominees (clearly chosen only for their Revolutionary credentials) did cause concern and four were rejected with calls for stronger candidates. The 17 others were passed.

REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS' HEGEMONY:

OVER THE PEOPLE

On Saturday 20 August, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered a key change in the high command of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Brigadier General Mohammad-Ali (Aziz) Jaafari has been appointed to establish "the IRGC centre for strategy" which will "draw up the new strategy and implement the necessary changes to ensure rapid and efficient transformation of the country's civilian infrastructure and resources to military footing under the control of the IRGC". Khameni instructed Jaafari to "identify and propose key individuals and scientists in the Revolutionary Guards for membership in this important centre". Jaafari is to work closely with President Ahmadinejad, with whom he shares a close friendship. (Iran Focus 20 Aug)

OVER THE MILITARY

Iran Focus also reports that Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the commander of the IRGC, has been asked to "devise a new command structure and military strategy for the IRGC that would give the elite military force unlimited access to national resources and absolute priority over the regular army in case of a foreign military confrontation". (Iran Focus 20 Aug)

OVER THE POLICE

On 10 July, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Brigadier General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam to the position of police chief. Moghaddam, who was deputy commander the paramilitary Bassij and commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Greater Tehran, is a long-time ally of President Ahmadinejad. Iran Focus reports that in a decree read out on the state radio Ayatollah Khamenei said the police force's top priority was "to create security all over the country at a level worthy of the Islamic Republic".

Iran Focus comments that the appointment of Ahmadi Moghaddam brings the country's police force under the complete domination of the Revolutionary Guards and signals a readiness to crack down harder on what the ultra-conservatives see as "deviation" from the country's rigid religious laws. Farhad Nasseri, an Iranian analyst based in Dubai told Iran Focus, "This is part of an overall trend to extend IRGC hegemony over all military, intelligence and even civilian institutions. Ayatollah Khamenei is taking no chances. He wants his own men in control everywhere." (Link 3)

On Sunday 28 August, Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Revolutionary Guard, Brigadier General Mohammad-Kazem Moazzenian as the new chief of the Intelligence Protection Organisation of the State Security Forces.

POLICE TO ENFORCE "ISLAMIC VALUES"

Under orders from their new police chief, Iran's police have commenced a crackdown on "models of corruption", or in other words poorly-veiled women. (Iran Focus 27 Aug) Jamal Karimi-Rad, Iran's new Minister of Justice vowed on Saturday 20 August, that "improperly-veiled women" will be treated as if they had no Islamic veil at all. "Being improperly veiled and not wearing a veil are no different," declared Jamal Karimi-Rad. "When it is clear from the appearance of a woman that she has violated the law, then the crime is obvious and law enforcement agents can take legal measures against her."

PARAMILITARIES AS LAW ENFORCERS

Iran's State Prosecutor, Ghorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi (a Shiite cleric and former head of the Iran's dreaded secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security), told journalists in Tehran on 25 August, "There are about 18 different law enforcement agencies, and may be even more, in the country." He listed the State Security Forces, certain branches of the Intelligence Ministry, the Revolutionary Guards, and the Bassij militia as amongst Iran's "law enforcement forces". (Iran Focus 25 Aug)

According to Brigadier-General Hossein Zolfaqari: "In circumstances when the police are not present or when they require assistance or when they for whatever reason do not wish to carry out their tasks, uniformed members of the Bassij can in accordance with the law act against apparent crimes."

Iran's new Justice Minister, Karimi-Rad, has also made it clear that members of the para-military Bassij and the notorious Ansar-e Hizbollah, government-organised gangs of hooligans, are regarded as law enforcement agents in clergy-ruled Iran. (Iran Focus 25 Aug)

Since Thursday 18 August, plain-clothes agents of Iran's State Security Forces (SSF) have been conducting stop-and-search operations in Isfahan, central Iran. Iran Focus reports that drivers are stopped and ordered to show their identity cards before their vehicles are thoroughly searched by plain-clothed SSF agents. (Iran Focus 19 Aug)

The State Security Forces have also launched a crackdown against "young people harbouring anti-government sentiments". (Iran Focus 20 Aug) And in a move that will further entrench the isolation of Iranians, police have been ordered, "...to use all means, including helicopters, to locate and confiscate privately-owned satellite dishes, which are illegal in Iran." (Iran Focus 20 Aug)

FOREIGN POLICY

Iran Focus also reports that Mohammad-Reza Jaafari, the commander of Iran's new Lovers of Martyrdom Garrison, which has recruited more than 50,000 potential suicide bombers for "martyrdom operations" recently hinted to the Persian weekly "Parto-Sokhan" that if the US ever attempted to strike Iran' s nuclear installations, then the theocratic state could make use of long-term "sleeper cells" in the West to destroy United States' interests all over the world.

Jaafari also said, "The Imam [Khomeini] said years ago that Israel must be wiped off the face of the Earth, but so far practical steps have not been taken to achieve this. Our garrison must spot, recruit, organise and train martyrdom-seeking persons to be able to materialise this objective. Any delay in fulfilling the strategy of the Imam and the Supreme Leader in this regard will not be to the advantage of Islam or the revolution." (Link 4)

FROM THE MACRO TO THE MICRO

Lest anyone monitoring the big picture be tempted to forget the flesh and blood human beings within it, here is an Iranian story that could doubtless be told by more than one family. It is a situation that will probably become even more common in the new Iran.

The Sabian Mandaean Association of Australia reports that in 2000, Muslim vigilantes kidnapped Miss Layla Zahrooni (then aged 10 yrs) from her school. The Muslims then informed the Zahrooni family that Layla had converted to Islam and could not therefore be returned to an infidel family. (As Mandaeans, the Zahroonis follow the teachings of John the Baptist.) The Muslims placed Layla in an Islamic institution.

In 2004, Layla (aged 15 yrs) succeeded in escaping and finding her way back to her family. But on 4 April 2005, Iranian authorities discovered Layla (16 yrs) in the city of Sosangerd. They seized her from her distraught family and forcibly married her to a Muslim man.


Links

1) Defending The Islamic Revolution -- The Corps Of The Matter
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/08/dfead359-312f-4497-8686-559b29a226a6.html

2) Hardliner takes over as Iran's new president. 3 Aug 2005
http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3147

3) Iran puts police under Revolutionary Guards control. 10 Jul 2005
http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=2796

4) Iran's "suicide operations" chief vows to hit U.S. Interests.
23 Aug 2005
http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3429

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sri Lanka:Anti-Christian belligerence rewarded.

Date: Tuesday 16 August 2005
Subj: Sri Lanka:Anti-Christian belligerence rewarded.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal.


In Sri Lanka, a local Head Quarters Inspector has banned a small Christian fellowship from meeting for worship or prayer on the grounds that aggressive, threatening Buddhist opposition to its presence led to a disturbance of the peace. This unconstitutional, unjust and arbitrary ruling is pure appeasement. Impunity equals permission, and appeasement leads to escalation. Unless it is overturned, this ruling will bolster the confidence of Sri Lanka's Buddhist militants with the hope that unlawful, anti-Christian belligerence will be rewarded rather than prosecuted.

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On Saturday 6 August 2005, the pastor of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Horana, Kalutara District, Sri Lanka, was informed that the mob which interrupted worship and harassed believers on Sunday 31 July was planning a repeat attack on Sunday 7 August. On the basis of this information, a request was made for police protection.

On Sunday 7 August, the mob of around 50 persons led by a Buddhist monk arrived at the church and demanded amidst threats that the believers (about 12 in number) cease their meetings, leave the church and not return.

No police protection had arrived, so the pastor once again called the police station, this time to request police intervention. The police called both parties to the police station to resolve the matter.

The Buddhists claimed that the Christians have no right to meet for worship in a village that is 99% Buddhist. Various unsubstantiated accusations were leveled against the Christians, based on the Buddhist Commission Report (which is a report, and not law).

The police accepted that the Christians have a constitutional right to religious freedom, which entitles them to meet and practise their faith. However, the Head Quarters Inspector (HQI) ordered the pastor and his congregation to stop meeting for Christian worship, with immediate effect, on the grounds that their Christian worship has led to a situation where it has caused a disturbance of the peace.

The church has also been instructed not to try and relocate. Hence the members of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Horana have in effect been banned from meeting for worship and prayer.