Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shia cleric defends civil rights: Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's Fatwa

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's Fatwa is heartening and stereotype-breaking. Here are some excerpts:

"A political system based on force, oppression, changing people’s votes, killing, closure [of organs of civil society], arresting [people] and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail, is condemned and illegitimate. And, according to the teachings of the Prophet and his descendants confessions in jail have no religious or legal validity and cannot be the criterion for action [against the confessor].

The courageous people of Iran are also aware of such confessions — the examples of which can be found in the history of communist and fascist regimes — and are aware that such confessions and fake television interviews are extracted from their jailed children under duress and torture, in order to hide the oppression and injustice, and in order to present a distorted image of the peaceful and lawful protests of the people. The [government] officials who are responsible for such acts must be aware that such acts are sinful, and are punishable both religiously and by law. Iran belongs to the people, not to you and me, and they make the decisions, and the officials are their servants. People must be able to gather peacefully, and defend their rights both in writing and orally."

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