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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Mohsen Sazegara

Interviewed February 4, 2010

The changes inside schism clerical system not only during last 15 months after election period, but– during last 30 years– I mean, after– Islamic revolution– you know, because that Shia clerics, they were against any– ruling establishment. They got their money and their salary from the hands of the people, not from the governments. And they kind of tradition civil society in Iran, especially the stuff from 19th century that– they were against the– rulers of Iran. But after victory of Islamic revolution, a part of Shia– Shia clerics became the new rulers of Iran.

So the first crack started right after victory of revolution. Some grand Ayatollahs– who are the sources of emulation of the people, started to propose– Ayatollah Khomeini, the– the leader of revolution. And especially after death of Ayatollah Khomeini, when Ayatollah Khomeini, the present leader of Iran, took power.

Because he was not the high rank clergy, the high ranked clerics started to oppose him. And gradually, Ayatollah Khomeini changed or transferred the Islamic republic into a military and security regime instead of a clerical regime, a clergy regime. Because he did not have, you know, good reputation amongst the– the clerics. He was not a high ranked– clergy. So he didn´t– he was not able to use the Shia clergy as a source of power for himself.

So he searched– source of power amongst the military men. This is the reason that gradually, Revolutionary Guard became the main source of power, base of power of Ayatollah Khomeini. And right now that we are talking, the majority of the Shia clergy in Iran, they are not satisfied with this regime. They– they prefer to be out of politics, like you know, clerics of any clergy of any other religion. They prefer to do their religious job for the people.

I can say about 80 to 90 percent of the clergy in Iran, they are neutral. They– they don´t want to be involved in any type of politics. But amongst those ten percent to 15 percent– clergy who believe in, you know, political Islam, again, there is a very big– rift. There are two sides. One side are regime supporters. They have, you know, good positions in the regime. And the other part is– the opposition clerics. They are political, but against the regime.

One of the most important one was Ayatollah Multezari– source of emulation, who passed away last year. And he opposed not only Khomeini, but all the– the regime, and he supported Green Movement very much. He was famous as the– the spiritual father of the Green Movement.

And some other– top clergy, like Ayatollah Sofsani, Ayatollah Tazanjani– even some of them have been attacked by the– you know, white shirts– forces of regime. This is what people call them in Iran. The civilians– apparently civilians who, you know, attack to mosques, attack to– to clergy, attack to any mob. So amongst the– political clergy, they have two big groups: opposition and supporters. What happened during last 15 month was some new rifts inside the supporters of– support clerics of the regime.

For instance, in judicial power, many of the judges are– clerics. And right now, many of them are not satisfied with the regime. They don´t like to be– I´ve received several– messages from– from them– that– we don´t want to be– like those few judges who sentence the journalists, who sentence the ordinary people to death, to prisons. And we are not with them.

Or some other supporters of regime amongst the clergy, like– the representatives of the leader in universities, in every ministry. Many of them are now against the– establishment. One of the most famous one is Hoshimira Sanjoni, who is now– he´s the ex-president of Iran. And– he was very close to the leader. And after death of Ayatollah Khomeini, he was the first person in Iran, and became the president. And now he´s head of the expediency council.

But he´s not in a position, not totally in a position. Most of the time he´s silent, but he doesn´t support– Ayatollah Khomeini and– the coup d’état and the government of Ahmadinejad. So I mean, for instance, with Mr. Karroubi, who was the ex– the head of the parliament of Iran, and he was a political clergy with the regime, but now he´s at the– the– you know, head of the opposition. He´s one of the leaders of Green Movement. I mean– this is another– crack inside the– clergy in Iran.