The Friday prayer is barely over. As I listen to live radio from the US, people calling in and furiously pouring their anger at Rafsanjani, I am thinking that the critic is unbalanced.
Let me be clear, on a personal level, I utterly despise this person. However, let us see what the man actually did say on this sermon. I am using my twitter messages to write this post, so it might be fragmental.
First of all he opened his sermon by saying “God will judge you, don’t be proud” and further “God swears on the pen and what men write. Writing and humanity are the same.” He went on to talk of peoples’ rights. On this he orated for a very long time, telling stories from the time of Muhammad. Then he mentioned the 7th imam and the fact that he was jailed and tortured and finally was martyred in jail.
I read in this in the current context a reference to all the people who are currently jailed, tortured and martyred in Evin and other prisons. This is surely no coincidence.
Now he gets to the election itself saying that it started well with the debates on the state media and that people were hopeful that there would be a free election and therefore the turnout was higher than ever. He said that people should be thanked for their participation. He continued to say that regretfully this situation did not last till after the election.
Then he gets to the point when he is crediting himself for being close to Khomeini and insisting that Khomeini, just like the prophet always insisted that it is the will of the people that is important. That it is the people who should govern. That if we have the people, then we have everything and that is why he was so quick to appoint Bazargan as prime minister. He continues to tell how people defeated the regime of shah on the streets.
At this point I wondered if he is telling Khamenei that if his government is not by people then he too will be defeated by the people on the streets. Then he tells a story about the prophet Muhammad. The prophet had told the first Imam, Imam Ali, that if people don’t want you to be their leader, even though you are chosen by God, then let them do as they please. This has a pivotal message. He is in other words saying that a government that is not liked by people should resign. Am I reading too much in this? I think not, because he continues to say that according to the constitution everything is from the people – even the supreme leader who is chosen by the assembly of experts who in turn is chosen by the people. Observe that Rafsanjani is in fact the head of this assembly.
Rafsanjani goes on to talk about Iran being both a republic and Islamic. If not Islamic then we go astray and if not republic then it is not practical and it is not Islamic. Then he criticizes the state media for siding with one candidate. He says that today everyone is bitter, that everyone is a loser and that we need unity today and that he finally has some suggestions to resolve the situation.
Rafsanjani’s suggestions are as follows:
- We must all abide by the law
- We must create an atmosphere where all parties are allowed to express themselves, here are the state media of great importance
- Prisoners must be freed [my note: Did he say political prisoners? I am not sure I heard that. However he is of course refereeing to recently imprisoned protesters, writers, journalist, bloggers and political figures]
- We must console the injured and the families who have suffered losses.
- We must not limit media that work within the framework of law
He finishes by talking about the armed forces and basically asking them to cool down.
By now I am hearing that there are demonstrations all over the town. I only hope noone gets hurt. Someone calls in and says that people don’t really care about what Rafsanjani had to say. They are just using this opportunity to come out and protest. Perhaps, this was a good enough reason to go and listen to this old man of revolution.