Saturday, October 31, 2009

Iran's Sepah--More Secular or Simply More Severe?

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by Julie Jigsawnovich
Dictators may or may not be religious. There is speculation in the US about whether Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Sepah, will become less and less religious as they seize more and more control over businesses and industries in Iran. The following news story might reinforce this speculation. But does it really mean that Sepah is becoming more secular? And if they did become more secular, would this result in an easing up on laws supposedly based on religion in Iran? Would the great irony of brutal secular dictators granting more personal freedoms of expression--as long as they did not challenge the State--occur? Well, from what I've seen, don't hold your breath for that. Religion is a mighty power in Iran, and a useful one. Sepah may instead be simply positioning themselves to perpetrate an even more severe round of political repression, exceeding even that of the clerics.

Some of my Iranian friends are secular and some are devout Muslims. Those who are religious resent the regime's exploitation and corruption of Islam as a means to the end of brutal repression. Those who are secular deeply resent having religion and Sharia laws forced upon them, and would prefer a separation of religion and state. Within the context of awareness of their concerns, I read the following article with great interest.
via Tehran Bureau headlines

"IRGC Chief: Preserving regime more sacred than Islamic prayers

According to Sepah News, the official website of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Guards, in an IRGC meeting in the city of Urumiye on Wednesday, said "Preserving the Islamic Republic establishment is even more vital [a duty] than performing namaz" [Islamic daily prayers, the main pillar of Islam].

[This is the first time an IRGC commander appears to be issuing a religious edict. Some suggest it is a reformulation of an existing 1988 fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini.]

'No one dares to claim that the Islamic Republic regime must be destroyed, and no one must dare to challenge the principles of this establishment,' Jafari added.29 Oct 2009"

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