Archiv der Kategorie: Hassam Rouhani

A Culture of Intimidation: The Islamic Republic and the Press

This short documentary provides a brief account of restrictions on the freedom of the press in Iran, particularly focusing on the period between the reform era, which began with the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997, and the present. The chain murders of 1990s, the banning of Salam newspaper in 1999, and mass closures of reformist newspapers by Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi are among topics discussed in this film. The documentary also examines restrictions on the press during the presidencies of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani, and explores how Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Iranian parliament have worked to cultivate a climate of fear in the domestic press in Iran. According to figures compiled by IHRDC, there are currently over fifty journalists and bloggers imprisoned in Iran.

Last month, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), Javad Zarif, announced to the world that the IRI does not “jail people for their opinions”, adding that, “people who commit crimes…cannot hide behind being a journalist.” Weeks later, on Tuesday, May 26, the trial of Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian commenced behind closed doors in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, a court known for issuing heavy sentences against political prisoners and prisoners of conscience with little to no supporting evidence. One of the charges against Rezaian, “disseminating propaganda against the state”, is presumably one of the crimes to which Zarif alluded. According to its definition in the IRI’s Islamic Penal Code, the charge can be applied against “[a]nyone who engages in any type of propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran or in support of opposition groups and associations.” This vaguely-defined charge has been employed in countless cases against journalists in recent years, yet neither Zarif nor any other official of the IRI has ever provided a coherent explanation of how its use does not infringe on the freedoms of expression and press.

Rouhani on Freedom of Speech and Islamic Extremism

rouhani freedom islamAs we noted in our earlier posts, most Iranian leaders reacted to the Charlie Hebdo massacre accordingly: Yes, the massacre is reprehensible BUT the victims deserved it for having insulted Muslims.

Rouhani is different in that he not only understands the sensitivities of Muslims, he is acutely aware of the sensitivities of Westerners whom he feels he needs in order to allow Iran to develop and prosper.

Rouhani on Charlie

charlie 6Rouhani condemned the massacre accusing the terrorists of increasing Islamophobia with their deeds. His condemnation was tempered slightly by the content of Charlie: “A magazine which is used as a weapon of prejudice is always full of bullets of insult and certain people sow the seeds of hatred and others harvest vengeance under the name of religion but with the sickle of massacre.” Hatred in the name of religion is fuelled by hatred in the name of freedom of speech.

He went to great lengths to separate the sensitivities of Muslims who felt insulted by the satire of Charlie Hebdo from the sensitivities of Westerners who were horrified from the reactions of Muslim extremists to the freedom of speech.

A good way to understand Rouhani’s mindset on the sensitivities of this issue is to read and listen to his own words his reactions to similar issues in the past.

Rouhani on Rushdie

rushdieRouhani clearly understands that the sensitivities of Muslim regarding criticism of Islam is equaled to the sensitivities of Westerners regarding criticism of freedom of speech.

In order to understand his mindset on this issue, one should listen to Rouhani’s take on the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the furor it created in the West: “It’s not a matter of the civil rights of a Western citizen…it is a cultural war…according to their point of view, the problem is that asentence has been issued for an individual who is a citizen of another country…Our response is that the fatwa is a religious decree…we as a government have not issued an order to assassinate this person, so it cannot be said that we have broken international laws, but we say this is the duty of Muslims. And this duty is determined by God.”

In short, he understands why the fatwa is so abhorrent to Westerners but he also understands why the fatwa had to be issued and respected.

Rouhani on “Freedom”

freedom iran 2For Rouhani, freedom has to be tempered and controlled in order to not turn into anarchy: “People (in Iran) are completely free to express their thoughts. Of course, there are laws and rules in every country. There is a court, and if anyone disobeys the law, then it is the law that deals with that person…if we don’t abide by the law, it would be a shambles. We have to distinguish between freedom and shambles“.

That is why issuing a death sentence to Iranian blogger Soheil Arabi for (re)posting a criticism of the Prophet is legitimate. According to Rouhani,  Arabi transgressed the law knowingly and therefore should be held accountable as a criminal because freedom, he believes, must be limited and controlled: “Danger is when, God forbid, there is a group that considers itself equal to Islam, a group that considers itself equal to the Revolution, a group that considers itself equal to the guardianship of the Supreme Jurisconsult and introduces [another] group against religion, against Revolution, against the guardianship of the Supreme Jurisconsult. All problems originate from this point.”

Once again, Rouhani seems to understand the upside of freedom but he warns that too much freedom leads to the unraveling of the fabrics of society in general and Islamic society in particular.

Rouhani on the future of Iran

iranRouhani first and foremost has a clear understanding of the power of diplomacy: Diplomacy, is the art ofunderstanding a region…estimatingits strength and position, and finding opportunities critical to exploit.” But more importantly, Rouhani has a vision for the future of Iran: “In 20 years, our dominant discourse should be “progress and development” – if the dominant discourse is security, then the economy, and science and technology, cannot be the first priorities“.

This form of development is dependent on foreign investment which shies away from Tehran’s traditional focus on security and arrogant attitude of self-sufficiency: “Our difficulty with foreign investment is that the world sees our country as a security risk. We have paid a very high price economically.” In his mind, the future of Iran is dependent on de-isolation and foreign investment and not on self-sufficiency as Khamenei arrogantly tries to portray.

But Rouhani is also a devout Muslim who believes in Iran’s role in leading Islam: “The leader of the Islamic movement is Islamic Iran…the Imam’s (Khomeini) line, path, and thought rules over the hearts of all free Muslims and movements. The eminent leader of the Revolution, his eminence Ayatullah Khamenei…is the leader of the world of Islam today. His message, his words, his cries, his line, his path is the guiding direction for Islamic movements.” Iran’s future is not only in development but in leading Islam globally.

In a way, Rouhani symbolizes the crux of the problems that Iran is going through: his head is facing toward the West but his heart is in Islamic rule.

Quelle: Iran2407

Iran official: Obama’s letters have been answered

Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Director, speaks to the media after his arrival at Damascus airport, Sept. 30, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri)

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, acknowledged not only that US President Barack Obama had written letters to Iran’s supreme leader, but also that there have responses to some of them.

“The letters of the American president have a history of some years, and in some instances, there have been responses to these letters,” said Shamkhani Nov. 12 at a weekly meeting of national security officials.

Shamkhani, who served as defense minister from 1997 to 2005 and is now Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to the council, did not elaborate on which of Obama’s letters received a response, in what form or from which official. From summer 2009 to October 2014, four letters were reported to pass from Obama to Ayatollah Khamenei.

However, according to the transcript provided by Iranian Students’ News Agency, Shamkhani said that there are “contradictions” between the contents of these secret letters and US public positions. In contrast to the United States, Shamkhani said that Iran’s private and public positions have been the same, particularly when it comes to the nuclear program.

He reiterated that in the current nuclear negotiations, Iran “would not accept anything beyond the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” describing some of the requests of the International Atomic Energy Agency as being beyond the treaty, particularly on visits to military sites.

Shamkhani was also very critical of US Middle East policy and Israel’s influence on it, saying, “Unfortunately, America’s policies in the region are managed through the Zionist regime, and this regime has used every tool to humiliate America.”

According to Shamkhani, if a “list of the costs” the United States has paid for Israel were presented to the American people, “It’s not likely that the US would continue this unbridled support.”

Shamkhani said that US criticism of Iran’s offer to send arms to the Lebanese army shows that the country desires instability in the region, adding, “Without a doubt, this cannot be assessed outside of their policy to support the Zionist regime and to keep Lebanon’s army weak.”

During a visit to Lebanon in September, Shamkhani announced that Iran would provide its military with weapons to fight terrorism. The United States threatened to cut off aid to Lebanon if it accepted Iran’s offer.

Shamkhani also said that Israel’s influence is the “primary reason” for the slow rate of the nuclear talks, as the United States feels an “absolute commitment to satisfy” Israel. He said that the “continuation of this policy” will create obstacles in reaching a nuclear agreement.

In Syria, Shamkhani said that the only solution is to strengthen security and have all the Syrian sides engage in talks. He added that the first step is to “create calm, prevent the entrance of foreign terrorists into Syria and cut the financial and military support of terrorists.“

Source: AL-Monitor

Filmmakers Clash as Rouhani’s Agenda Leaves Iranians Divided

By Ladane Nasseri

After decades portraying starkly different visions of Iran through their movies, two of the nation’s leading filmmakers have turned on each other in a dispute that has sucked in some of the country’s top officials.

At the heart of the discord betweenEbrahim Hatamikia, a household name in Iran, and Abbas Kiarostami, whose films have won global recognition, is the cinematic portrayal of the 1980s war with Iraq. Hidden in the acrimonious exchanges is a tussle between those who stand by the tenets of the Islamic Republic, and draw power from proximity to the clerical establishment, and proponents of a more open, liberal Iran.

Their clash symbolizes “a type of free-thinking versus the authoritative opinion of the state,” said Parviz Barati, an author of books on Iranian culture and commentator for the Shargh newspaper in Tehran. “The same friction we see between these two icons of cinema is visible within Iranian society.”

Iran was invaded by its neighbor just months after the 1979 revolution, the start of an eight-year war that killed hundreds of thousands, and it remains a central pillar of the Islamic Republic’s identity, known as the Sacred Defense. Yet it’s receding into history for many younger Iranians, who are more concerned about the country’s international isolation and played a key part in electing President Hassan Rouhani with a mandate to end it.

The directors’ spat escalated last month, with Hatamikia, 53, for whom the revolution and the war continue to define the Iranian state, accusing Kiarostami of being a “darling of foreign film festivals” who has denigrated the conflict’s martyrs.

‘Time of Peace’

Kiarostami, 74, whose films explore human relationships and topics such as compassion or justice often through child actors, shot back in a newspaper interview, implying Hatamikia’s war movies were formulaic rehashes of Hollywood themes, while denying he doubted the heroism of those who died fighting Iraqi forces.

“In a time of peace, I am not interested in talking about war,” he told the Etemaad newspaper on Oct. 9, alluding to the need for cinema to discuss contemporary issues.

There are no shortage of those. Rouhani and his hardline opponents are at odds over policies from curbing the nation’s nuclear program, in return for the lifting of international sanctions, to greater access to the Internet.

No Slogans

Supporters have rallied round the two directors. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force and the increasingly public face of Iran’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria, wrote an open letter to Hatamikia encouraging him to ignore criticism and “continue on your path” as “your prize is people’s awakened conscience.”

“In the West, they still make movies about World War II,” said Hamid Asemani, 34, a communications student at Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran. “Our war only ended some two decades ago. Of course it’s important that we still document and discuss it.”

Defending Kiarostami, Hojatollah Ayoubi, deputy culture minister and head of Iran’s Organization of Cinema, said the director is also “enamored by” sacrifices made in the war though he wants to depict them in “his own style.”

Kiarostami is “very open to the world,” said Barati. “His fans are mostly liberal, more independent-minded reformists who back democracy,” he said. “Kiarostami doesn’t deliver slogans in his movies and stays away from ideology. Such people have always been under pressure. Some like Kiarostami have remained in Iran while others have left.”

Calibrated Defiance

Sparring between two stars of the cinema over something as sensitive as the war, the start of which authorities commemorate with the Sacred Defense Week each September, was bound to generate passions.

“In contemporary Iran, it’s impossible to criticize the war,” said Roxanne Varzi, an assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of California in Irvine and author of “Warring Souls: Youth, Media and Martyrdom in Post-Revolution Iran.” It’s “at the heart of the entire authority of the state.”

Most challenges to the clerical establishment in Iran are acts of calibrated defiance rather than outright confrontation. That’s become easier since Rouhani came to power signaling support for greater freedoms on university campuses and criticizing aggressive moral policing.

Formative Episode

Conservative opponents have accused his government of diluting the declared objectives of the revolution, such as independence from the U.S. and social stability.

Hatamikia, who spent time at the front in the 1980s documenting the conflict, “is a believer in the cause and what the war stood for,” said Saeed Zeydabadi-nejad, a senior fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies’ Centre of Media Studies in London.

His dedication has won him support from conservatives who see the resistance of the then-nascent Islamic Republic to foreign aggression as one of Iran’s most formative episodes.

For many Iranians, half of whom according to the United Nations Population Fund are below the age of 24, his films don’t relate to their present lives. “Hatamikia made movies about a period of Iran’s history and they had their impact,” Ali Honarvar, a 29-year-old sculptor in Tehran, said by phone. “But this isn’t all there is.”

Source: Bloomberg

%d Bloggern gefällt das: