Religious Tyranny is Crumbling: Rejoice!

• Sep 13th, 2009 • Category: Works By Soroush

The bloody wedding has ended and the fraudulent groom has left the bridal chamber.

The ballot boxes tremble and ogres dance in the dark.

The dead, in their white shrouds, stand and watch, and the prisoners clap with severed hands.

And, with a mixture of rage and hatred, the people of the world see off the groom.

The times weep openly and the republic sinks deep into blood.

Satan laughs, the stars dim and virtue slumbers.


Mr. Khamenei,

At a time that is marked by a dearth of justice and virtue, everyone is remonstrating with you and I am grateful to you.  This is not to say that I have no remonstrations. I do.  I have many, but I have conveyed them to God.  Your ears have been so dulled and deafened by eulogists’ words of praise that they are deaf to remonstrations. But I am most grateful to you. You said that “the ruling system’s sanctity has been violated” and its integrity ravished. Believe me, I had never heard such good news from anyone in my life. Congratulations, you have acknowledged and announced the sordidness and wretchedness of religious tyranny.

I am glad that the sighs of the weary have reached the heavens and lit the flame of divine wrath. You were prepared to shame God rather than to be shamed yourself. To have people turn their backs on religion and the prophethood rather than to turn their backs on your guardianship. To have the Law, the Way and the Truth crumpled rather to have your garb of leadership wrinkled. But God did not will it. Grieving hearts, silenced voices, spilt blood, severed hands and torn chastities did not want it and did not allow it. The pure and the pious and the prophets did not want it. The deprived, the caring, the oppressed and the opponents of oppression did not allow it.

“The angel has hidden its face and the ogre vaunts its beauty.” This was the tale of the republic under your guardianship. And now, praise be to God, the veil of the ogre’s false virtue has been torn away. Its secret has been exposed and its immorality laid bare. And, with rage and amazement, the world saw it naked.

Mr. Khamenei,

I know that you are going through difficult and bitter days. You made a mistake. A grave mistake. I showed you the way out of this mistake twelve years ago.  I told you to adopt freedom as a method. Never mind about its rightfulness and its virtue; you should use it to attain a successful State. Don’t you want this?  Why do you send out spies and informers to discover what’s in people’s minds or to use tricks and ploys to make the people tell them something against their will. Why must you listen to reports that are based on information that is obtained by stealth and contains a mixture of truths, untruths and half-truths?  Allow newspapers, parties, association, critics, commentators, teachers, writers, etc. to operate freely. People will tell you what’s on their minds plainly and in a thousand different ways. They will open the windows of news and views to you and help you run the land and the State. Don’t strangulate newspapers. They are society’s lungs.

But you opted for erroneous and misguided ways. And now you are cursed with doom. You have fallen victim to the closed system that you created yourself. A system in which neither criticism nor opinions can grow. A system in which neither learning nor news can flourish.  You think that you can obtain full and comprehensive information by reading confidential bulletins and listening to obsequious aides. But both the election of Khatami and the green election of Musavi must have shown you that the opium of complacency and the bewitchment of tyranny have robbed you of cleverness and knowledge. And, now, in order to redress the sin that stemmed from ignorance and tyranny, you have embarked on more heinous crimes. You are trying to wash blood with blood, in the hope of achieving cleanliness.

As if cheating and treachery were not enough, you embarked on crimes and murder. As if treachery and murder were not enough, you licensed the raping of detainees. As if murder, rape and cheating were still not enough, you accused people of spying and immorality. You did not even have mercy on dervishes, clerics, writers and university students and slashed them all with your blade. To cap it all, you gave prizes to the lackeys and criminals, and laughed down your beard at everyone. Then, you had a soldier sentenced for stealing an electric shaver!

I was amazed by God’s patience. I knew that:

God’s compassion will show you endless mercy

But once you exceed the limit, He’ll shame and disgrace you

I knew that grieving mothers and mourning fathers were weeping in secret, and murmuring these words to God: “Our Lord, bring us forth from this city whose people are evildoers, and appoint to us a protector from Thee.” (Nisa, 75)

I knew of the many hands that were raised to God in supplication against you. Prisons were temples and worshippers were (and are) prostrating themselves night and day in prayer, in the hope that God will unseat the unjust ruler.

When Neda Agha-Soltan was felled and martyred, when her throat was pierced with the bullet of injustice, I cried to the Almighty: Can You not hear Your creatures’ cries? Like Jesus on the cross, I lamented: God, why have You forsaken us? Can You not see the evildoers who have stained all the green with red? Can You not see the morose and sour people who have made bitter everything that is sweet? Surely, You can see how the flames are devouring the haystack of security and human dignity. You can see the detainees’ desolate confessions. You can see the evil conceits of the oppressors. And yet how can You remain complacent?

Then came the day when I heard that forced and resentful admission: “The ruling system’s sanctity has been violated.” And these words washed all my grief away. They were as invigorating as water from a mountain spring. It was as if they were not the speaker’s words, but Your words, which had entered his speech.  I realized that You were bent on granting people’s prayers and had ordered the wind to redirect the flames towards the oppressors’ thickets. And I prostrated myself in gratitude.

Mr. Khamenei,

I want to tell you that the page has turned. The ruling system’s luck has ended. Its integrity has been ravished. Its disgrace has been recorded in history.  That which is indecent has been exposed. God, too, has turned away from you and divested you of  His protection. The impudent things that you were doing in hiding, behind a veil of duplicity, have been revealed. The sighs of the grieving, the dead and the silenced voices have proved effective and set your cloak ablaze. I am afraid to have to tell you that the door to repentance has also been closed to you. Nor will religion furnish you with any cure now that your religious legitimacy has vanished. The new, green Iran no longer resembles the black, ruined Iran of the past. By the grace of God, the greenness and whiteness of this movement has got the better of the blackness of your tyranny. The soil, water, clouds, the wind, the mist, the sun and the cosmos are at hand to rebel against you on God’s command.

For years, under the umbrella of your protection and your guardianship, your lackeys and helpers set upon the masses like hungry hyenas; robbed them of security and justice; silenced their voices; deprived them of their of dignity; stole their peace; squeezed their throats; filled their eyes with tears and their hearts with sorrow; made them taste the poison of cruelty; held them captive like a nation under occupation; trampled their rights; plundered their freedom; insulted them; mocked their ideas; turned their religion on its head; sanctified the profane; peddled superstitions; made their lives bitter; turned their days into nights; tampered with their votes; entrusted universities to the ignorant; set up a lies- and insults-factory by the name of radio and television; taught the people grief and servitude; decreed that romance is forbidden and sanctioned the spilling of blood; staged contrived rallies and demonstrations; and bragged to the world that everyone was devoted to the ruling system.

In prisons and the killing grounds, they surpassed the Mongols in killing, raping, beating, injuring and torturing people. They trampled the shari’ah and the law  underfoot. They raised the banner of ignorance and fanaticism. They elevated the ignorant and cudgeled the learned. They deprived the young of pleasure and the elderly, of dignity. They manufactured a colourful array of ayatollahs and obtained from them deadly fatwas, so that they could strangle writers and critics with the rope of inhumanity and dismember them with the cleaver of savagery. Cursed with the disease of paranoia, they stirred up endless commotions and crises, leading to more detentions, absurd confessions and lethal punishments. And the agents of military and judicial tyranny pushed injustice to the extreme limits, as if the ruling system had sworn an oath that it would in no way fall short of Saddam Hussein and Hajjaj.

These chilling ploys, the bogus righteousness, the inane cleverness, the overt and covert cruelties, the bullying, the duplicities, the injustices, the killings, the cheating and vote rigging – over a period of years – lit a flame in the consciences of the people that burnt the guardianship’s lair. The protests after the elections were not “manoeuvres”; nor were they “sedition”; nor did they resemble the legendary mosque that was erected by hypocrites (contrary to the coins made ad nauseam by your Mint).  They were an expression of a refusal to put up with all the plunder and pillage. Wakeful consciences refused to forego their votes, their elections, their rights and their freedom of opinion, and they quietly and calmly rose up against the plunderers of their votes, their rights and their freedom. The thieves grimaced in agony, but we heard the sound of God’s laughter.  He was pleased with us. He heard our prayers and exposed the killers and their masters. Taraneh Mousavi’s death was the death of tyranny.

Mr. Khamenei,

The green movement is standing firm now for the creation of a green Iran, like a blessed tree that has its roots in the soil and its head in the skies. And, with the consent of God,  it is bearing fruit (“Its roots are firm and its branches are in heaven” (Abraham, 24)). This movement now has its own green martyrs, its own green poems and poets, its own art and literature, and its own discourse and speakers. It is the product of 20 years of caring cultural struggle by enlighteners and strugglers in the arena of politics and culture. Your efforts to break it up with militarism and by encouraging eulogists, in the style of Sultan Sanjar and Sultan Mahmoud, are in vain.  You may break yourself instead.

The greatest victory of the rebellion of consciences against plunderers was that the people lost their fear and the legitimacy of the guardianship crumbled. Neither the insolence of military men, nor the raping by the wicked, nor spitting in the eye of decency, nor exaggerating the tattered glory of power, nor relying on sadistic brutality, nor attacking the human sciences, nor the eulogies of highly-paid sycophants, nor the poetry of dimwitted poem peddlers will bend the back of the resistance. Religious tyranny has been disgraced in the eyes of the religious and irreligious. And in the green field of the resistance movement, it is harvest time. We have prayed to God for this and God is with us.

There is no sweeter testimony to this reversal in fortunes than that the approach of every celebratory occasion only makes you mourn. And everything that once made you laugh now only makes you weep and shudder. The universities that you wanted to see as your minions have now turned into your nightmare.  Street demonstrations, ritual gatherings, Ramadan, Muharram, the hajj, grieving the martyrdom of Shi’i Imams have turned into emblems of misfortune for you and proceed to your detriment.

We are a fortunate generation. We will see religious tyranny crumble and we will rejoice. A moral society and a post religious State( that transcends religion) is the shining destiny of the people and their green movement.  We will value and esteem freedom; the same freedom that you snubbed and are today paying the price for snubbing. The proponents of fascism sold you the idea that freedom means decadence and debauchery. They did not recognize that the cure for the deadly diseases of your ruling system lay in auspicious freedom.

You’re wasting your time trying to fight economic corruption (although it is not even a sincere and serious battle).  If you had allowed press freedom, they would have revealed the cases of corruption and frightened away all the corrupt people. If you had allowed the press to criticize you, they would have prevented you from falling into the abyss of tyranny, the conceits of supremacy and the corruptions of power.  If you had allowed them to report the people’s views truthfully, they would have sobered you up and prevented you from stumbling around with the drunkenness of ignorance. Newspapers are our homeland’s schools, not “the enemy’s bases”. And what could be better than for the schools’ gates to be thrown open and for you to be a pupil?

And we will esteem faith; the very faith that you turned into a plaything in the interests of power. The religiosity that you used to teach people grief and servitude. You did not realize that joy and freedom are the true companions of faith; that the compulsions of jurists rob people of the liberty of devotion; and that a power that is based on religion corrupts both power and religion. Ruling over joyful, free, knowledgeable, nimble people is something to boast about; not over captive, grief-stricken serfs.

* * * * *


I ask myself, Who am I writing this for?  For a ruling system that fortune has abandoned, a system that is drowning, a system that has fallen out of favour with the masses and the elites, a system that has been utterly disgraced? And then I remember the words of the Glorious Creator:

“And when a certain nation of them said, ‘Why do you admonish a people God is about to destroy or to chastise with a terrible chastisement?’ They said, ‘So that we may be free of blame in the sight of your Lord and that they may guard themselves against evil.’” (Al-A’raf, 164)

O God, be my witness: I, who have cared about religion all my life and who have taught religion, dissociate myself from this tyranny-worshipping system. And if there was ever a day when, by some oversight or error, I assisted the oppressors, I beg for forgiveness and absolution.

O God of wisdom and virtue! By the sincerity of the truthful and the piety of the pious, let our prayers unite with the prayers of the devout and the benevolent; hear our pained grievances; bestow your mercy on the aggrieved hearts and tearful eyes of the oppressed; and bring an end to a people’s outrage and bewilderment. Do not entrust Your friends to enemies. And rescue wisdom and virtue from the clutches of the dastardly.

Tell the wind to pull out the tent of tyranny. Tell fire to burn injustice root and branch. Tell water to drown the pharaohs. Tell the soil to swallow up the avaricious. Tell the clouds to rain down mercy, justice, joy and kindness on this wronged and deprived people. And turn the thorn-land of the oppressors’ wickedness into the flower-filled garden of the just and the virtuous.

Blessed Ramadan 1430

September 2009

Abdulkarim Soroush


Translated from the Persian by Nilou Mobasser


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