First Published: 2003-05-20

 
Iranian reformists, dissidents urge changes
 

Some 116 reformists, liberal dissidents accuse Iran's conservatives of misusing sacred principles to keep power.

 

Middle East Online

Denying legal rights and freedom cannot have a religious justification

TEHRAN - Some 116 Iranian reformists and liberal dissidents accused their conservative opponents Tuesday of clinging to power by misusing "sacred principles" and denounced their "reactionary interpretation of Islam."

Calling for extensive reforms and freedoms, they warned that without them the clerical regime would face the same fate as Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the Afghan Taliban.

"The instrumental use of sacred religious principles in order to keep power has dealt a hard blow to the confidence of the people," an open letter published in newspapers said, adding, "violence has nothing to do with Islamic mercy, denial of rights and freedoms has no religious justification."

Predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran is a theocracy, where the supreme leader, Aytatollah Ali Khamenei, and other clerics dominate the democratic political system.

"Denying legal rights and freedom cannot have a religious justification", the authors said.

"Insulting intellectuals, critics and lawful opponents in the name of religion, has inflicted deep damage to the moral values of the people."

"Unfortunately, certain institutions have arrayed their battalions against the popular will," the letter went on, adding that "there is no other way to save Iran from the whirlwind of plots and threats than to turn to the will of the people."

"We want a free and independent Iran, as we are afraid of the return of foreign domination or attack, so we hate religious dictatorship and the suppression of people's freedom," read the letter signed by deputies, journalists, intellectuals and student leaders.

Stating the case of reformists loyal to President Mohammad Khatami, the signatories underlined the need for referendums as "the final solution to a number of national problems".

They called for an end to arrests and "illegal" summonses by the courts, a ban on torture, an independent and impartial judiciary and trial by jury.

Jailed journalists should be released, bans on some 90 newspapers lifted and the press freed, they said.

The conservative-dominated Guardians Council constitutional watchdog should be deprived of its power to disqualify election candidates and "obstacles in the way of parliamentary" activities removed.

The signatories included prominent members of the main reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, and a number of members of the outlawed Iran Freedom Movement, including its founder, Ebrahim Yazdi.

Another signatory was university professor Hashem Aghajari, sentenced to death for blasphemy and currently being retried, reformist clerics Hassan Yusefi Eshkevari - who was also once given a death sentence - and Mohsen Kadivar, as well as relatives of disgraced Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.

 

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe