The events of Muharram in 2023 brought to light a stark reality: the people of Iran differentiate between the turban-wearing hypocrites ruling Iran and their deep faith and religion. This revelation has become an onerous weight for the leaders of the Iranian regime. In recent days, many of them have striven to camouflage this revelation through speeches that they term “therapeutic discourse,” an attempt to invigorate the flagging morale of their diminishing supporters.

On August 6, during a session that the state-controlled media presented as a gathering with “commanders of the Navy, the 86th Naval Group, and their families,” the Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime, Ali Khamenei, unveiled his deep concern.

Khamenei initially claimed, “The first ten days of Muharram were more fervent, more vibrant, and more productive than previous years.” But shortly thereafter in the same speech, he revealed his true perspective with phrases like “dulling the spirit of Muharram by the ‘enemies!” which inadvertently demonstrated how he has received the people’s protesting slogans and eulogies.

Four days before Khamenei’s speech, Mohammad Bagheri, the Chief of Staff of the regime’s Armed Forces, had claimed that “the enemies’ plot to undermine the observance of the first ten days of Muharram had been unsuccessful.” However, in the very speech that was devised to project strength, he found himself admitting genuine concerns.

During a session organized for the paramilitary Basij forces, he stated, “To protect the youth and adolescents in this environment, we need to act strategically and wisely. If the Basij are not in control of the neighborhood, other efforts become futile… The Basij’s significance in mosques and neighborhoods is considerable, and it must have strength. Neighborhood-centered development needs to be robustly pursued. We should identify both strengths and weaknesses thoroughly.”

On August 6, Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf also attempted the same in an open session of the Majlis. He stated, “The scheming enemies of the Iranian nation, who had planned to create a divide between the people and the leadership, have once again failed, demonstrating to the world that we are a nation of Imam Hussein and the enduring flame of the people’s love for the descendants of the Prophet [referring to the Ali Khamenei] will burn even brighter.”

Though he also made sure to express special gratitude to “all anonymous soldiers and guardians of Imam Mehdi [a term regime officials use to refer to agents of the Ministry of Intelligence] and the selfless police forces who, during the days of Muharram, managed to protect the system from the threat of rebellion.”
Deep-rooted divide

In the age of communication, the true state of affairs in Iran cannot be obscured by mere rhetoric and propaganda. The written records and visual evidence of statements by Friday Prayer leaders and other state officials, who expressed concerns about the “diversion of Muharram and religious ceremonies,” are accessible to all.

However, what particularly concerns the leaders of the hypocritical regime traces back many years. In 1979, when the then Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini hijacked Iran’s anti-monarchial revolution and steered it towards establishing an absolute clerical monarchy, he obtained concurrent legitimacy from three sources that offered him a comprehensive and interwoven authority: religious authority, assumption of revolutionary leadership, and political legitimacy with unprecedented powers.

Khomeini managed to suppress his opponents under the banner of “Islam,” “Shiism,” and “Revolution.” Yet he encountered an obstruction with one entity: the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK/PMOI). This organization cast doubt on Khomeini’s legitimacy across all three dimensions, as it represented the largest organized Muslim opposition group during the Shah’s dictatorship, of whom all its leaders and members were either executed or tortured by the Shah’s regime.

Struggling to navigate the intricate socio-economic challenges of a post-revolutionary society, vis-à-vis the MEK, Khomeini could foresee his impending ideological and political defeat. The organization initially undermined his unquestioned authority by exposing his extremist viewpoints and policies. Consequently, Khomeini sought external adversaries to suppress dissent, using the war against Iraq as a tool to associate anyone who opposed him as an agent of the enemy. However, the MEK embarked on a global campaign in 1984 [two years after all Iraqi troops left Iranian territory] to demonstrate that peace was attainable.

Ultimately, the Iranian Resistance administered a critical and irreversible blow to Khomeini’s warmongering strategy by forcing Khomeini to accept a ceasefire in the Iraq-Iran war of 1988. This action prompted Khomeini to authorize a mass execution in the summer of 1988, murdering tens of thousands of MEK members and supporters across Iran’s prisons. Nevertheless, the sacrifice of these martyrs nourished the roots of dissent in Iran’s stifled society.
Ideological Problem

This reality remains evident today in the content presented by state-controlled media or speeches of state officials, who commonly picture a stark departure from Khamenei’s propagandist messages.

On August 4, the government-affiliated website “Ruydad 24” published an extensive article titled “How Did the People’s Mojahedin Interpret the Ashura Incident for Their Own Benefit?” In this piece, by quoting speeches from Massoud Rajavi, the founder of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, trying to mischaracterize MEK’s belief system and falsify their history, the website editors issued a warning about the looming threat posed by the Mujahedin and its influence on the fundamental beliefs of society.

Examining each individual article or speech emerging from Iran could prove to be a daunting task, and deciphering the underlying message might become challenging. However, when we step back and consider the broader perspective, encompassing thousands of articles, books, conferences, movies, TV series, diplomatic endeavors, etc. it becomes evident why the regime is investing substantial time, effort, and resources into this matter.

While it has turned into a “new normal” in recent years to read or hear discussions about the MEK in state media or public speeches by regime officials, for a significant part of the past four decades, silence and censorship surrounding the organization have constituted an official and prevalent policy in Iran.

What has led to this policy change is perhaps more evident, in the remarks of one of Khamenei’s ambassadors in the Friday prayer sermon in Karaj.

On July 29, speaking to Khamenei’s tight-knit follower base, Mohammad Mehdi Hosseini Hamedani, the Supreme Leader’s representative, stated, “They’re expressing things differently, using different language, trying to mislead the faithful youth. It’s the same infiltration that [Khamenei] warned about years ago… These various interpretations and annexations they’re making for Islam.”

Source » ncr-iran