Ashura 1388 – December 27, 2009, begins over 1,300 years ago. During the three year reign of Yazid I (680-683 CE) of the Ummayad Caliphate, one man refused to swear allegiance to the caliph, he was Hossein, son of Ali, the father whom Shi’as believe the Prophet Mohammad designated to be his successor as spiritual leader and commander in chief of the faithful. (Ali was a son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Mohammad, Hossein was his grandson.) However; Ali lost out in the immediate aftermath and when he was finally made the fourth (and considered last of the “Rightly Guided”, or Rashidun, caliphs even by Sunnis) by the Ummah, he was assassinated five years into his rule in a Kufa Mosque (present day south-central Iraq) and later buried in Najaf, the third holiest site in Shi’a Islam (behind Mecca and Medina). Ali, like Mohammad (again, this is the Shi’i view) had in turn designated his eldest son Hassan (and older brother of Hossein) to be his successor; but a powerful military leader and Syrian governor by name of Mu’awiya, who had been appointed by the second of the Rashidun caliphs, Umar, swept down, forced Hassan to acquiesce on his claim, and founded the Ummayad Caliphate. His son was Yazid.

After the accession, Hossein’s rebellion against Yazid began in earnest, Yazid was to be regarded as a tyrant and usurper by the Shi’at ‘Ali (Partisans of Ali, meaning of Shi’a). Ironically enough, Hossein opposed the dynastic rule even though the Shi’a schism was founded on the basis that rule ought to be limited to the Prophet’s bloodline (they would contend that through Allah’s messenger they had divine mandate, or nass, unlike Yazid). The climax of this power struggle was at the Battle of Karbala, which took place on the tenth day of the first Islamic month of Moharram (as opposed to the Persian calendar, which overlaps with Dey, this year – here’s a handy calendar converter I use often).

Days before the battle, Hossein and his men, were en route to Kufa from Mecca and intercepted by a group of around a thousand mounted soldiers from Yazid’s army, then compelled to agree to be escorted away from reaching Kufa. The next day, a contingent of four-thousand more of Yazid’s men arrived with an order to have Hossein swear fealty; he refused, and soldiers blocked access to the nearby river. After a few days Yazid decided it was time to finish the recalcitrant challenger off. On the tenth day of Moharram, roughly ten thousand (though numbers are often inflated greatly) of Yazid’s army was assembled around a camp of Hossein’s seventy-two men. Hossein had pleaded with his men to try and escape, to leave him, and tried to reason with the soldiers amassed against them, but Yazid’s army was unyielding, and soon archers were shooting volleys of arrows down upon them. Trapped, dying like the tethered animals with them, Hossein’s men refused to abandon their leader and charged at the army one by one, each being cut down one after the other. At long last, Hossein, after all other able men had gone to their death, with his dead infant son whose throat had been pierced with an arrow in his hands, fought valiantly until at long last he too, parched with thirst and beleaguered as he was, succumbed. His death blow was delivered by Shemr (also known to Shi’as as the “Curse of Allah”), who decapitated Hossein, put his head on a pike, and proceeded to pillage the camp and refused him proper Muslim burial, leaving his body in the desert for three to four days. One might compare it to the Battle of Thermopylae (and I will, briefly, since it’s a fabulous excuse to link this Iranian rapper’s response to the movie “300”). But a better comparison would be with the Passion of Jesus Christ. In any case, his shrine supposedly stands near the spot where he died, similar to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. All analogies must end here though, too many are only a disservice.

The day of the battle is commemorated on the day of Ashura with the preceding days of the beginning of Moharram recounting all the events leading up to it. The outline I’ve written above is by no means complete, I’ve abridged it to the bare bones, and often it is exaggerated for greatest emotional appeal (like Imam Hossein single-handedly slaying over a thousand men before Shemr cut him down, like some sort of Shi’a Siegfried). Mourners, dressed in black and hanging black flags outside their homes, will attend ta’ziehs, or passion plays, where events are dramatically recreated theatrically, rosehs where a Roseh-khoon, mollahs who specializing in performing monologues retelling a story every Iranian knows by heart, but still reducing men to tears (as Hooman Majd says in his book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, “[R]eal Shia men do cry”); and often following that, nohehs, or songs around those themes. This is one by two of the most famous noheh singers, Helali and Sibsorkhi. And most famously (not to mention infamously), during the matam, or mourning procession, where men ceremonially beat themselves with chains called zanjirs and chant “Ya Hossein!” and similar exhortations. Contrary to what some might assume, the shedding of blood we often see sensationalized from other parts of the Shi’a world, with knives and such (though usually shallow cuts anyway), are in fact ruled against in this by Grand Ayatollah Sistani (and some other guy), and actively discouraged in the Islamic Republic. Most of these processions are choreographed and form a sort of competition for different groups to see who can outperform one another. Often, young women will be hanging over the edges of the ramparts, cheering the young men on, whom beat themselves more furiously than the next to impress the ladies. Yes, sex finds its way into even this solemn rite. How could it not, with the frenzied fever it can produce? This year, as most, the ceremonies of Taft, in Yazd Province, were televised nationally. They seemed to be covering every little aspect of the story of Hossein, the rituals, the meaning; all the while completely “unaware” anything else was happening. I’m sure it was just a coincidence. Televised Ashura ceremonies from Taft is like the Midnight Mass (er, sorry, 10 p.m.) from the Vatican, or Barsana for Holi, it’s something they do best. Khamene’i also delivers his own roseh. Most years, green headbands and flags are also a signature feature. This year, even after one promise from police commander Azizollah Rajabzadeh, they reneged on it, descending on those with “suspicious” green, I suppose. One by one the regime’s symbols are being taken back from it by the people to whom they rightfully belong.

Former President, chairman of the Expediency Council, Assembly of Experts and long time de facto second most powerful man of the Islamic Republic, Hashemi Rafsanjani, is attributed as saying, “[I]f you want to understand Iran, you must become a Shi’a first.” I believe the second best thing anyone interested in Iran could do, is in understanding Shi’a basics. It is also helpful in decoding the layered meanings of some of the slogans. Even the chant to Obama of “are you with us, or against us?” can be traced back to something Imam Hossein said.

Shi’ism was made the state religion by Shah Esma’il I, founder of the Safavid Dynasty in the beginning of the 16th century CE. The decree and conversion of Sunni Iran to Twelver Shi’ism was draconian and completed fairly quickly. Many historians contend that it was also possibly a cynical move more than a personal conviction, given the protracted conflict with the Sunni Ottomans. The truth is, anyway, that it absorbed an already peculiarly Persian form of Sunni Islam, with elements of nationalist myth (best encapsulated by Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh), features of Zoroastrian doctrine and practice melded under the guise of Islam, and Sufi poetry from masters like Hafez and Sa’di. The continued observance of the new year, or Nowruz, is a prominent and enduring example of this tendency (even though the Islamic Republic initially wanted to ‘wipe’ it from the calendar), plus the old saying that “every Persian has written at least one line of poetry in their lifetime,” Shah Esma’il included. Shi’ism, in fact, tapped into the Iranian soul. It allowed greater freedom in interpretation, for one. The austere Sunni proscription against human images just was never gonna fly in the artsy “France of the Middle East”.

The contradictions of Iran can be highlighted among some more chauvinist attitudes held toward Arabs, like in the pejorative malakh-khor (‘locust eater’; interestingly enough, the name of the border crossing near where the three American hikers – sorry, “spies!” – were apprehended). And yet, they had to reconcile the fact that they were practicing the faith of their conquerors, with a holy book in the revealed language of Arabic, and whose culture they had always looked down upon for centuries and praying to a land considered but a backwards frontier to the Persian Empires. The bridging of this history is perhaps best exemplified in the dubious hagiographical belief that Hossein (whom, as Shi’ism developed greatly over the centuries, particularly after becoming a state religion, would be venerated as the Third Imam) married a Persian princess, daughter of the last Sassanid shah (the second and last great Persian Empire), Yazdegerd III, whom had been defeated by Caliph Umar’s forces (this is also slightly reminiscent of Alexander the Great marrying his officers to Persian noblewomen and adopting customs of the royal court after his conquest of the first great Persian Empire, the Achaemenids; and taken by Persians to this day as an acknowledgment of their superior culture). The Shi’i concepts of martyrdom, zolm (oppression, cruelty, tyranny), and ‘adl (justice), borne out of Imam Hossein’s martyrdom and the narrative built upon throughout years of persecution as a minority in the Muslim world (which, by the way, is the origin of taghiyeh, or dissimulation, often mentioned derisively among the Daniel Pipes crowd) instilled within it. It may have well struck a chord with a scarred Persian pride, grieved and shamed at being conquered by “inferior” Arabs, and seen as a way to give Islam their own unique touch. As such, though it is a significant population in Lebanon, Bahrain, and Iraq, Islamic scholars such as Reza Aslan suggest it is, in a very real way, “Persian Islam”. It is also a sect ideal for rebellion, fueled upon by the blood of martyrs (another interesting synthesis is the legend of the tulip growing from the ground where a martyr spilled his blood, dating to pre-Islamic times – next time you see a speech with pretty tulips everywhere – keep this in mind). As such, it provides special complications for a regime who used its themes, slogans and mourning cycles to overthrow a shah; i.e. “Yazid” – most notably in 1963 and 1978. Even more consternating is when they are officially tied to the state and Ashura is as much a governmental, as religious observance. After all, though the country had been Shi’a for a long time, it had held to the Shi’i belief in Quietism. (I seem to have misplaced my articles on this Najafi/Qomi; and Sadra/Majlesi debate which still shape seminary debates to this day. No matter, this can wait.) Clerics were not to rule, they were traditionally apportioned the role as the spiritual conscience for a nation, and would protest when a ruler trespassed their limits, when no other power bloc could dare out of risk of retribution. But, alas, the powers that be are always much easier to criticize, when you’re not the powers that be; especially not a shah and a cleric rolled into one. Ain’t that the darndest thing, Seyyid Yazid?

* * *

On the 25th, Enduring America noticed that on his website,

Rafsanjani puts forth Hossein’s opposition to the caliph as the most significant political movement in the last 1400 years, with its promotion of virtues and condemnation of injustice and evil. And, in an all-too-obvious parallel with the 21st century, he asserts that Hossein was accused of having revolted for power and collaborated with foreigners to which the Imam answered: “I’m not revolting to Govern; my revolt is to protect and correct the course of the disciples of my ancestor [the Prophet Mohammad].”

After a relatively quiet Thursday and Friday, on Saturday, or Tasu’a, the eve of Ashura, people came out at 11 a.m and continued in the streets until 9 p.m. At one such event  former reformist president Mohammad Khatami and supporter of Mir-Hossein Mousavi was speaking at Jamaran Hosseiniyeh around 6:00 p.m. Tehran time (a Hosseiniyeh is often a special mosque built especially for the occasion of Moharram; Jamaran is an area of northern Tehran, famous for being Khomeini’s home during his lifetime). Busloads of Basijis had been dropped off, loudspeakers are alleged (via Tweet) to have said “if you do not disperse, we have orders to shoot” and the Basij videotaped faces chanting “Death to Khamene’i”, “Ya Hossein, Mir-Hossein” and “This is the month of blood, Yazid will fall”. At the point of Khatami’s speech when he said, “Imam Hossein’s rebellion arose from his willingness to die for the sake of freedom. He fought against those who wanted to govern society in the name of religion and abolish freedom,” Basijis stormed in [ video ] and eventually cut his microphone which summarily ended the gathering only half way through. Those who didn’t disperse were beaten as indiscriminately as the windows the Basijis smashed, the crowd protected Khatami though, so he could escape. Also in attendance were Rafsanjani’s two daughters, Fatemeh and Faezeh and Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson, Yasser, high profile Reformist figures in their own right.  Also on Tasu’a, in the city of Shiraz, Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastghaib’s house was laid siege to, as was Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri‘s in Esfahan. I’ve gone on enough tangents as it is, I’ll just say that this guy is another name for you to try and file away.

And it wasn’t just people at gatherings, dissident clerics, or those on foot,

According to Jaras, police officers were seen striking the sides of cars with their batons, tearing off license plates, and in some cases dragging drivers out of cars and assaulting them.

After Ahmadinejad’s (ostensibly his, that is) firing of Mousavi Tuesday, in which he had to interrupt a meeting in Shiraz (southern Iran) to fly up and back down again, as head of the Academy of the Arts, and increased threats against opposition leaders, things are heating up and a breaking point with full, unhinged crackdown is feared. Among these threats was from the Supreme Leader’s representative to the Pasdaran (IRGC), Hojjat-ol-Eslam Mojtaba Z’ol-Nour, who said, according to The Washington Post:

“If we throw all three heads of the green sedition into prison, nothing will happen at all,” Zolnour said, warning the Basij forces not to act independently toward the two leaders, whose movement uses the color green. “But if we take any physical action against them, it is possible that the flames of these issues will spread.”

Z’ol-Nour, in hardline newspaper Resalat (via Juan Cole’s blog) also let this slip December 17th [emphasis mine]:

“Authorities should introduce traitors to the people as soon as possible.” He pointed to the supreme leader’s description of the recent sedition as ‘a deep sedition . . . ‘ ‘Hojat ol-eslam Mojtaba Zolnur said: One of the reasons for such a description is the scale of that sedition. He added: There were many seditions after the Islamic revolution, such as that of anti-revolutionary groups, Banisadr’s, Montazeri’s, imposed war, etc., but none of them spread the seeds of doubt and hesitation among various social layers as much as the recent one.”

Sort of spoils the “rich kiddies from North Tehran” argument, no? Also significant is reference to Montazeri and Banisadr. Banisadr was the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, whom following interim Prime Minister Bazargan were both French educated liberal-minded moderate leaders in the early years following the Revolution (probably ate arugula, too, with real moutarde de Dijon). During the Hostage Crisis, Khomeini and the IRP (the faction most associated with establishing the theocracy we see today) effectively purged them both. The way in which they did it, with the aid of Pasdaran and Hezbollahi thuggery, further adds to the emptiness and hypocrisy of their accusations against “hooligan” demonstrators today. To buttress Z’ol-Nour’s statement, The Christian Science Monitor reported  that the Esfahan governor had called for a state of emergency during the Montazeri mourning ceremonies earlier last week. There were descriptions of martial law in Najafabad (Montazeri’s hometown, which the CSM article totally fudged up on) on his haftom (his seven day death anniversary, also coinciding with Ashura, covered below). And there was a stir of speculation over these photos of a national gathering of provincial police chiefs preparing for Ashura. -As if this billboard of Khamene’i didn’t send its own chilling message (translation: We await Moharam, when it will be a time for trial, it will be our blades and your throats if even one hair on Ali’s (Khamenei) head is lost.).

According to Rah-e Sabz, another interesting story of note

Caretakers at the Mausoleum issued a bulletin saying that owing to limited space due to renovations, only a few heyats (organized groups of mourners) would be hosted there this year.

It should be noted that this past Ramadan was the first time since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s revolution, that his mausoleum did not host Ramadan ceremonies.

* * *

Day of Ashura – as you might have suspected, SMS and internet was down to a crawl (and had been for days), Rah-e Sabz site blocked sporadically but later back up, heavy security presence, city squares cordoned off, metro stations monitored, shots fired in the air – in short, the usual.  Cities included Tehran (including south central and southeast), Shiraz, Esfahan, Najafabad, Mashhad, Arak, Babol, Orumieh and Tabriz. In Tehran it was the most violent clashes since June. [note: following are all video links] Protesters chipped up concrete, set fire to Basiji motorbikes, police vehicles and even a police outpost. There was also this (they harmed a hair on your head!) and this (street sign says “Khamene’i Dd.END”, in Perso-Arabic and Roman scripts) of “desecration” to the velayat-e faghih, poor thing. Here’s some of those young kiddies causin’ the trouble we hear about from the IRI and its Western apologists so much. [end of video links] Besides police being outnumbered in some cases and surrendering, a few videos show them taking off their helmets and leaving the scene voluntarily, as well. Of course, state-run media, after first trying to ignore them, described anti-government demonstrations as groups of dozens of troublemakers, accused one of setting a Qur’an on fire, and even tried to bring the Rajavi cult (MeK) into it [yes, three different links]. To be honest, considering the NCRI did uncover the Natanz enrichment program and that they would have known today was a big day, I’m not ruling it out. All I know, is that if I hear the government or IRIB (same thing, actually, and why protesters gathered at its building and set a fire) bring up the Anjoman-e Padeshahi-ye Iran yet again, I’ll definitely be rolling my eyes. Nevertheless, whether true or not, their goal is to smear them all as traitors (IRI-speak is “sowing disunity”, something they know a lot about) by bringing up the most reviled group in Iran, apart from the clerical and Basiji hardliners themselves, that is.

Jaras reported that police also refused orders to open fire on occasion. But apparently this wasn’t always the case. Without a doubt the biggest headline will be that Ali Mousavi, Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s nephew, was shot and killed. His body has disappeared (and the state-media and its apologists – out in force saying the same thing this morning on Iranian sites – claim it was MeK), as have others slain (for a body not to be buried the following day, is in most cases considered against Islamic injunctions on burial rites). The death toll is at ten, according to opposition sites, with four in Tabriz and one in Shiraz. 300 (I saw 1,000 on one site, I need to see it somewhere else first) have been arrested. Rumors of at least one occasion where a car escorted by motorbike-mounted Basijis pulled up, pulled several protesters off the street, and disappeared. This has been standard operating procedure for “disappearances” for many years, it is not out of the question. It would also make it a believable rumor. Another one was of a riot van running over a man. I really do resent the fact that apologists have the luxury to question my perceptions down to almost epistemological levels sometimes, due to the regime they defend banning all foreign media, and if it’s not that, it’s vain attempts to appeal to my natural progressive sense of anti-imperialism or my sympathy for Palestinians (as if the two were not harmonious causes, and I’m supposed to be one of those rabid “push Israel into the sea” types too, I’m sure). It is sick and twisted logic, and if the IRI wanted to clear up “misunderstandings”, why not let  journalists in? If they don’t like speculation, they’re the ones inviting it, the rest of us do the best to guess. Do you really want me to believe, after denying reports, that some of the deaths were just car crashes and that one person, losing their balance I’m sure, just “fell” off a bridge? Then let us confirm it. We apologize for offending your pride by questioning your state-media, itself which has purged a few un-ideologically pure staff. An example of their dedication to a free and fair press is seen by their acknowledgment of arresting a Dubai-based Syrian reporter for attending the Ashura demonstrations and daring to (gasp!) observe and report. Also standard operating procedure (and forgive the pun this one takes), is the suspicious removal of those injured from general hospitals to Pasdaran-run hospitals.

The deaths are also seen in another light in this article, and as reported by The New York Times:

“Ashura is a very symbolic day in our culture, and it revives the notion that the innocents were killed by a villain,” said Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former member of the Iranian Parliament who is a visiting scholar at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “Killing people on Ashura shows how far Khamenei is willing to go to suppress the protests.”

That same article goes on to say that they raided a Reformist clerical association in Qom (I’m left to guess that it’s probably the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qom – I friggin’ get annoyed at unspecific Western articles which make me do their job). In at least one case in Iran considering the coordinated quarantining of clerics, the demonstrators got there first, in Mashhad, at Grand Ayatollah Sane’i’s house, and the Imam Reza shrine (I’m linking to the shrines’ Wikipedia pages this time, due to the religious nature of this article; that it is important to be familiar with the major ones; and that, well, they’re gorgeous).

Remarking on the day Juan Cole summarized thusly:

For the regime to create a member of the Mousavi family as a martyr on Ashura was most unwise. Shiite Islam even more than traditional Catholicism thrives on the blood of martyrs.

Junior or middle-ranking Ayatollahs favorable to the ideas of Montazeri show up in a number of these reports about protests in provincial cities, suggesting a generational split in the clerical corps and trouble for Khamenei ahead.

Iran’s political crisis is far from over, even though the opposition has little hope of coming to power as long as the security forces remain firmly behind Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmad Bakhshayesh, of Allameh Tabatatabi University in Tehran (known for its liberalism) adds to this thought, “I believe we are moving toward a more militarized and repressive confrontation. Things are going to get worse.” Gary Sick would concur.

Mehdi Karroubi, whose car windows were smashed (and who has had his security detail removed by the government), like Mousavi’s attack last week, said that the kind of offenses seen on this Ashura wouldn’t have even been committed by the shah, “[T]he sins that you have committed today cannot be forgiven by God. If you don’t have a belief in God, at least be a human.”

It would appear with the arrest of ten reformist figures, like Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s top advisor, Ali Reza Beheshti, and his brother-in-law, Shapour Kazemi, that Mousavi’s nephew was targeted (whether or not it was an apprehension gone wrong is left to be seen). Expect more chants like this, “I will kill, I will kill, he who has killed my brother!” Also arrested were Ebrahim Yazdi, Foreign Minister under Bazargan, and whom has carried on Bazargan’s banned party, the Freedom Movement of Iran. This guy’s been in trouble before, and is about as close to a progressive as you can get for a political figure in the Islamic Republic. Another name to remember. He’s a bit of a character, as well, if I remember correctly. Another arrest is someone, ironically, who speaks out for prisoner’s rights and against the death penalty, a position for which he just completed a one year sentence last year. Perhaps most significantly for the West was the arrest of Shirin Ebadi’s sister, Noushin. Shirin concluded this was likely for a recent phone call, after Dr. Noushin Ebadi, a professor of medicine, was warned repeatedly not to call her (and yet they’ve also threatened her for years to pressure Shirin to drop her campaign, go figure). Methinks the Nobel medal wasn’t merely misplaced and miraculously found again, after all.

In response to the escalating crackdown President Barack Obama issued this statement, echoing those from Germany, France, Britain and other EU countries from Hawai’i:

The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in detentions, injuries and even death.

For months the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights.  Each time they have done so they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days.  And each time that has happened the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people, who are a part of Iran’s great and enduring civilization.

What’s taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country — it’s about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves.  And the decision of Iran’s leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.  As I said in Oslo, it’s telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Along with all free nations the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights.  We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.  We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran.  We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there.  And I’m confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.

Now, I’m not saying there’s gonna be chants of “Ya Hossein, Barack Hossein”, but can you guys tell, like me, that he had some help from his Iran team on that? Notice all the subtleties, the choice of words. Notice how many times he used words like ‘justice’, which when translated, will have Shi’i connotations? I noticed the same with his Cairo speech regarding broader Islamic themes. No doubt, the GOP will still pretend he hasn’t issued any statements regarding the situation, or criticize him for being too late, or still being too soft. In a CNN interview with Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, he remarks on Obama’s fine line with which he has to take – which isn’t appeasement, it is about not impeding the Green Movement and getting out of our own way. On the forcefulness of the Obama statement, I’m wondering what analysts are seeing, as well. I don’t want to follow this thought too much, as the US has had a habit of being dead wrong reading the internal situation of Iran time and time again; but I can’t help but wonder if they thought the situation was tipping enough one way or the other to merit it. No statement like that is just done on the fly. I’ll bet you they had a draft of that since at least Montazeri’s passing. Not nearly as long as Ahmadinejad’s mocking and – yawn – most recent – yawn – accusations of – yawn – foreign – yawn – meddling. The advantage of not having an embassy in Tehran is not having your afternoon tea disturbed every time Iran wants a distraction. This was said on state television by Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Majles, and did give me slight pause though, “[P]arliament wants the judiciary and intelligence bodies to arrest those who insult religion and impose the maximum punishment on them without reservation.” Whether this is serious or not, I’ll have to check out, Larijani isn’t a firebrand, but he does know to say what he’s told to say. Ever wonder what the practical internal motives are for hardline bluster, by the way? Oh, what, you still aren’t awake after the Zionist/American belabored biped of blame? (it’s the Iranian equivalent of ‘noun, verb, 9/11’ x 100) Don’t worry, this Ahmadi nugget will wake you up after that snoozefest of his earlier:

Sixty five years ago, seventy years ago Second World War commenced.  In this war more than sixty million people were killed.  Now you travel to Europe, see if there is any name of these dead at all.  Is there any indication of these dead?  Never!

* * *

As Ayatollah Khomeini used to say, appropriating an old Shi’a saying, “every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala.” Today the demonstrators say “Hossein, Hossein is our slogan; being a martyr is our pride” and call Khamene’i Yazid. It isn’t so much inversion, as it is the recognition of a grim reality for the Pasdaran and their allies. Ayatollah Vaez-Tabasi, member of  the Assembly of Experts, Expediency Council, and with the plum position as head of the Imam Reza Shrine Foundation, I might add – someone who is clearly on good terms with the Supreme Leader – said that “seditious” leaders are moharebs (or, ‘those who wage war against Allah’, that fun nebulous charge which happens to carry the death penalty). And yet where does he stand when women are anally raped in prison by guards for reasons amounting to political terrorism? Every stale chant Basijis and their Shemr supporters direct at demonstrators, calling them “hypocrites”, rings hollow. Maybe they should practice in front of a mirror for more resonance.

It is said that a tear shed for Hossein can wash away all sins. May Allah be merciful to these men; history won’t be.

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Khirad, Truly thankful for this comprehensive post and your added comments! This type of in depth coverage I’ve been longing for.
I have no knowledge of the history of Iran, and while I know it is still “bare bones”, this post is both fascinating and informative.
One of the things I did like at HuffPo was the different links that the commenters would give to info that I would not have found on my own. I feel like I have that at the tip of my fingers here at the Planet
the best of the best!! Truly appreciated.


Khirad: I always, always look forward to your articles. Sometimes I print them out, then retreat to a quiet place (ie, the bath) to read and savor.

You are a gem, and I cannot thank you enough.


What is man thinking? John Bolton just isn’t happy unless many people are being killed and shedding blood. Now he wants to give guns to the Green Movement? This man was W’s choice for U.N. Ambassador? Does he even have a conception of diplomacy?

“I would say that mere rhetorical support for the demonstrators, for the opposition is not enough.


Compared to John Bolton, Mahmud Ahmadinejad is a voice of reason…


😆 Bolton just baffles me. When will Cheney chime in?

Bernard Marx

Another outstanding piece. I need to keep a copy of your articles for future reference.


Khirad, what an amazing article! I’m really impressed! I just wish I had a command of the language so that I could properly pronounce the names. My French and Latin studies do me no good here!

Thank you for that! A little understanding goes a long way! 🙂


I’m just blown away by this article! IT’S AWESOME! 😀 Magnificent job, Khirad!


this was really an excellent article, khirad.

thank you for writing it.

i really wish more people would take the time to learn about the history of the middle east, but sadly enough, too many americans don’t even known their OWN history well enough to understand it. i find that very sad.



What a great piece. I can see why you were tired towards the end. We understand so little about the middle east as a whole. Our colleges are putting out some good courses on ethnic studies, but in k-12 there is not much at all except for the American version, which is sorely lacking. I think we fail in that respect and a healthy respect for learning different languages. One year of spanish or french in high school is not sufficient. I am told in Germany all are required to master another language.


Hi Sue.

interestingly enough, classically trained musicians must demonstrate mastery of at least one other language at the graduate level, and one at the doctoral level of performance. if you are going into music history at the doctoral level, you must master two other languages. what’s more, you’re tested on reading comprehension, pronunciation and conversation.

among classical musicians, it’s a badge of honor to master some of the more difficult slavic languages.

my french is rusty, but considering i will soon be working at the doctoral level, i have to fix that quick! and many years of study in latin is an excellent way to improve one’s command of english.

it’s really pretty sad in this country that the mastery of another language is not required in public education. i have had cab drivers in paris that spoke seven different languages fluently. we really should be embarrassed about that.


Great point, Sue. Learning another language is a window into the culture and the history. I’ve studied several languages, and my understanding of humanity increases with each new language. It’s not just a matter of developing a discipline. It’s about developing a perspective.


Beautiful article Khirad, I do hope that you are writing a book.

My O/T message for today is.


Beautiful article Khirad, I do hope that you are writing a book.

My O/T for message for today is.


Hello Lady Kalima!
How are you?


Hello javez, life sends it blows, I will be fine. Hope you are well?


I sent same video twice, didn’t find a delete button, never mind.

Pepe Lepew

Wow! 😀

I bow before you, sir!


Khirad, I was waiting for you to post something on the latest developments. Thank you!

KQµårk 死神

Khirad cheers for another tour de force on the current situation in Iran with an unmatched historical perspective. Probably the biggest reason America has made so many bad foreign policy decisions in Iran and the Mideast is because we just do not understand the culture and history that developed the culture.

My wife is a history buff and loves learning more about different cultures so she is thoroughly enjoying your series of stories on Iran and the Mideast as well.