July 17, 2009

Rafsanjani gives Friday khutbah in Tehran

So what REALLY happenned in Iran? Fellow blogger and international scholar Austin Thompson posted something about a month ago, when this story was first breaking, urging caution about how the major news media outlets in the US were jumping to conclusions about election fraud, perhaps prematurely. In that context, its interesting to note the different headlines 'framing' this story, in which influential Iranian cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani addressed the nation. The Associated Press titled it: "Police tear-gas Iran protestors during prayers" while Al-Jazeera English titled it: "Rafsanjani: Iran in crisis." The Independent referred to Rafsanjani's criticism of 'hard-liners' in a story that was ironically also taken from the AP wire (by Ali Akbar Dareini). (See the link in the title)

I agree its important to stay alert to how this is being framed as it unfolds. It seems obvious to me at this point that SOMETHING was not right in how the Iranian elections were conducted. But the COVERAGE bias is striking to me...where were all these "pro-democracy" and "anti-authoritarian" advocates in the Western media when Israel illegally invaded Gaza?

Here is the English translation of the khutba from the Revolutionary Road blog"
It was actually taken from Sidewalk Lyrics, who did the translation as far as I know:

The moazzen is saying the azan.

Rafsanjani just got introduced to the podium.

Sound of loud chants we can’t make out.

Rafsanjani: Please sit down so we can make time for the speech.

Chants again. They’re not letting him speak. I can only make out “leader” in their chants. (the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader)

13:20 Rafsanjani: We are approaching the anniversary of the Friday prayers and today’s Friday prayer is in ways very similar to the first every prayers led by Ayatollah Taleqani. In hopes that we can use this prayer for the betterment of the future of our country and the goals of the revolution.

(Tehran radio is now cut off. The host just came on to announce that thousands of people are chanting Allah o Akbar in the streets.)

13:23 Rafsanjani: I have a main part to my speech. It will be about the most critical aspects of Islam.

13:25 The second part of my speech will be about the goals of the revolution, the goals people have worked for and have given their blood for and have been the endeavors of our Imam [Khomeini].

13:26 The third part will be about current day events and the conditions we are in. I will try to draw out solutions the way I see them. Of course, these will be my personal opinion.

13:27 Rafsanjani is speaking of Mohammad, the prophet, and the early days of Islam. This will go on for the first part of his sermon.

13:34 Rafsanjani is still speaking of Mohammad’s early days as prophet and his attempts to establish rule in Medina.

13:36 He is reciting a sourah from the Koran and interpreting it.

13:41 Rafsanjani is getting teary. “The prophet respected the rights of all those under his rule.” He brings an example from the end of the prophet’s life where the prophet comes to the people and asks that if he ever treated anyone unfairly, they speak up and let him know.

13:44 The prophet felt, during the last years of his life, that animosity was brewing amongst his people [he is crying now]. The prophet felt that his old friends are now enemies.

13:46 The prophet went to Baghi [where his old friends were buried] and said to them: you are lucky that you are no longer here to see that your old brothers are killing and destroying one another.

The first part of the speech is over. The second has begun.

13:51 He begins (as is the custom) by mentioning the upcoming religious dates of significance (e.g., the death of the seventh Shi’a Imam)

13: 52 May all the oppressors who make innocent people bleed be a witness to eternal condemnation

[the chants begin again]

13:53 I asked you, I pleaded for you to let me speak.

[more chants]

13:54 Rafsanjani condemns China. People chanted “Death to China” . He asks that people stop their chants.

13:55 China has a rational government. It must look at how it can benefit from its relations with the Islamic world. We hope that we will no longer be witness to such atrocities towards Muslims in China or anywhere else in the world.

13:55 But coming to our own problems. We started off very well in the competition. Everything went well and smoothly.

13:56 People became very hopeful. Everything was set for a glorious day. This glory was due to the people. They were the ones who went to the ballot box. And we must be grateful to them.

13:57 I so very much wish that that path had been continued. But unfortunately, that was not the case. I will now elaborate. We must first see what we [probably the ruling establishment] were after. This is coming from a person who was always by the Imam[Khomeini’s] side [he is referring to himself]. For 60 years. The Imam was always after the people. After getting their approval and their participation. This was the art of the Imam which made him so successful. It took the Imam less than 20 years to get the people to come to the streets.

13:58 These people, the ones who were behind the Imam, broke the back of the Shah and brought him to his knees.

13:59 After the victory of the revolution too, we worked on a daily basis with the Imam. Imam would always say that if the system is not backed by the people, nothing would stand.

14:00 The Imam would always quote the prophet [Muhammad] who would say to Ali [Mohammad’s successor]: leave the people if they do not want you.

14:02 He is speaking of the Imam’s command to Bazargan to form a temporary government. But the Imam tells him to keep it short to pave the way for the constitution.

[loud chants]

14:03 We agreed that you will stop chanting. If we do not have the votes of the people behind us, we will have nothing. The guardian council, the expediency council, EVERYONE gets their legitimacy from the vote of the people.

14:04 Without Islam, without a republic, we have nothing. Ali [Imam Ali, the prophet’s successor] waited 19 years until the people came for him.

[more chants]

14:05 Stop chanting.

14:06 Why did the elections come to this? Before the election, near the end, some people doubted what was going to happen. Maybe because of the way the broadcasting corporation behaved.

14:07 Rafsanjani: Some are chanting and I can’t make out what they say. But I am speaking what you want to hear. I want unity too.

14:08 I have never acted across party lines, and now too we must search for unity to find a way out of our quandary.

14:09 I have some suggestions. I have spoken to some members of the the expediency council and the assembly of experts about them too.

14:10 We must bring back the trust of the people. First of all, everyone must accept the law. The people, the parliament, everyone.

14:11 We must create a condition so that everyone can speak. We must speak logically. And a part of this is on the shoulders of the broadcasting corporation.

14:12 The guardian council did not make good use of the extra fives days given to them by the leader.

14:13 We do not need people in prison for this. Let’s allow them to return to their families.

14:14 We must join hands with those who have incurred great loss and try to lesson their pain.

14:15 We must give freedom to the press within the confines of the law.

14:15 We are all members of the same family. We must remain friends and allies. Why have we gone so far as to pain some of our marajeh [top religious leaders]?

14:16 I hope this sermon will pave a way out of this current situation. A situation that can be considered a crisis.

14:17 The sermon is finished.


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