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.

 

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison

Saudi king says Palestinians have 'right' to Jerusalem

Erdogan urges world to recognise Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

Saudi King says determined to confront corruption

South Sudan needs $1.7 billion humanitarian aid in 2018

UAE oil giant floats 10 percent of retail arm to strong interest

US skeptical about Putin's declaration of military victory in Syria

Growing concern about rise of far-right in Austria

Saudi, UAE seeks to help West Africa fight terrorism

Somali journalist dies after Mogadishu bombing