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Iran: ‘Poorly-Veiled’ Women to Have Cars Impounded

Tehran’s chief of traffic police has issued orders to crack down on women drivers whose head scarfs are not up to the Islamic Republic’s standards.

General Teymour Hosseini threatened, “If a (female) driver in a car is poorly veiled or has taken her veil off, the vehicle will be seized in accordance with the law,” the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported

In addition, the woman will have to get a court order to reclaim her vehicle.

Women in Iran have begun pushing back against the mandatory dress codes legislated after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Hard-lines decried the situation.

“Unfortunately, some streets of the capital have come to resemble fashion salons,” Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani said this week, questioning the “tolerance” that has led to “such a situation.”

A post on Instragram, a picture-sharing based social media network, recently featured shots by popular blogger Humans of New York reflects the current reality in a number of places in Iran.

To the side of the picture, shot in Namakabroud, Iran, was written:

“Things are getting freer. Even a few years ago, I couldn’t wear what I’m wearing now without inciting a rebuke. The scarves are getting brighter and looser. The sleeves are getting shorter. The laughter is getting louder. This is a very young country. More than half the population is under 30.

Have you ever seen an Iranian child? They are the most mischievous children on the planet. If you want an Iranian child to do something – tell him to to do it. Tell them not to kiss. Tell them not to hold hands. Tell them to dress in black. Tell them not to use Facebook. This country is full of mischievous, curious Iranian children. And the people who make the rules are getting older. And just like the Iranian parent, they are getting exhausted.” 

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of an Iranian woman taxi driver picks up a client in 2011. Both women are dressed in the traditionally-required garb as contrasted to today’s Iran (see below) where women are dressing in color, with shorter sleeves and looser head scarves. (Photo:© Reuters)

Fighting to Separate Religion and State in Iran

Ayatollah Boroujerdi languishes in prison in Iran for opposing the state. But Tayebeh Hosseini is fighting his cause from abroad.

Tayebeh Hosseini is the President of the Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group. She has been associated with Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group in the U.S.  She was a teacher, and also involved with Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s Organization in Iran before she left her hometown in 2011.

In cooperation with Boroujerdi for advocating separation of religion from state in Iran, she was arrested twice in 2006 and 2010. She faced tough medieval conditions in prisons in Iran.

Their website is found here. An open letter by Ayatollah Boroujerdi from prison has been published by Clarion Project.

She graciously agreed to speak with Clarion Project Research Fellow Elliot Friedland about the Iranian regime, it’s human rights abuses and her organization’s vision of separation between religion and state in Iran.

Clarion Project: Your organization is based on the work of Ayatollah Boroujerdi, a senior Shiite cleric and supporter of the separation between religion and state currently a prisoner of conscience in Iran. In what ways do you continue his work? 

Tayebeh Hosseini: The Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group conducts a variety of activities which directly support its central purpose of advocating, protecting, and supporting the basic civil rights of religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and the rights of women globally. We also oppose the religious tyranny and fundamentalism which interferes with such rights.

Our goal is to create the opportunity for discussions, cooperation and collaboration of civil rights leaders, activists and all those interested in promoting the globally important human rights values. We will also participate in and organize meetings, conferences, ceremonies and veritable networks. My colleagues and I continue his work through:

  • Translation and publishing of some books and papers against political Islam and religious violence which is written by Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroujerdi inside the prison.
  • Promotion of methods on how to train people to live in peace with those of different beliefs and tolerate them.
  • Communication with Human Rights activists and organizations worldwide to report human rights violence in Iran, especially the situation of prisoners and those tortured inside prisons as reported by prisoners and their families.
  • Media interviews and communication with journalists and reporters to inform the people about the latest situation of prisoners of conscience and other victims of human rights violence in Iran. We also promote Boroujerdi’s viewpoint regarding civil rights, women rights and other political/social discussions.
Two men hanged by the Iranian regime. (Photo: Reuters)

Two men hanged by the Iranian regime. (Photo: Reuters)

Clarion: How did you personally become involved with your organization? What motivated you to act? 

Hosseini: Basically I was a teacher, so I was in a relationship with many different people in Iran. While investigating the source of problems and crisis in my country, such as religious violence, religious dictatorship, extensive violence against women and human rights, I found that the source of such problems is mixing religion and politics.

I concluded that secularism is a primary solution to save our society to achieve freedom, peace, justice and democracy.

However, in a religious society with traditionally minded people, secularism was equal to paganism and the people were not interested in even listening to such concepts.

So I was always thinking if only religious leaders themselves supported the separation of religion and politics that would be great opportunity to affect public opinion. That was the reason I have supported Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroujerdi who was advocating religion without political approaches: an independent religion in which the people pray to their God in peace and freedom without government interference.

He had a successful plan in Iranian society and I was trying to support him as much as I can. So my aim is to develop such peaceful plans globally and especially in American society where we have many different people with different beliefs and religious interests.

He was very popular and well known between followers of various religions, including Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and even atheists, this was unique in Iran. He preached against religious oppression and the corruption of the clerics in the employ of the government. He had emphasized to us that “there is no compulsion in religion.” Then, I learned about his campaign and efforts in exposing the regime’s human rights violations. I started my activities in organizing seminars and holding discussion groups and analyzing his sermon and teachings.

Now, as the president of our organization, I follow up our activities in a formal manner. I also coordinate his supporters’ activities outside and inside Iran. I directly communicate with different organizations acting in same way and exchange our experiences and information with them.

Iranian authorities lashing a man. (Photo: Reuters)

Iranian authorities lashing a man. (Photo: Reuters)

Clarion: What in your eyes is the single greatest impediment to human rights in Iran? 

Hosseini: From my point of view, the single greatest impediment to human rights in Iran is the Regime: the laws of the Islamic state which is based on mixing religion and government. This brings about systematic violence of Human Rights and Civil Rights in Iran and stands in contrast to freedom and democracy.

Thus the religious leaders have established a religious dictatorship in which the people are being suppressed, arrested, jailed, tortured and executed due to their different beliefs and consciences.

For example, journalists were detained, often on charges as nebulous as “propaganda against the system,” or “spreading falsehoods with intent to agitate.”  The regime is accuses all of its opponents of being criminals on charges of “acting against national security,” “waging against God,” “religious innovation.” Consistent with their violent laws, they can even execute such innocent people. While these are the consequences of opposition to the religious state for Muslims, it’s clear what will happen to the members of religious minorities such as Christians, Jews, and Baha’is if they want to protest this tyrannical government.

A protester in the Iranian Green movement. (Photo: Reuters)

A protester in the Iranian Green movement. (Photo: Reuters)

Clarion: What are your strategies to bring about improvements in the human rights situation in Iran? 

Hosseini: To improve the human rights situation in Iran, we should support and defend secularism, democracy and freedom of religion and expression. The Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group’s plan is to train the people for such modern humanitarian values. We should continue to inform that “the religion is never against human and civil rights.” Especially for the women, we try to change their mind to convince them that “since the Lord is kind and has created kindness and justice, so he never send his messengers by discrimination and violent religious laws.”

We should pressure the Iranian regime into meeting international standards. In addition, Iranian people need public diplomacy. In this case, by providing technologies, they can be enabled to speak freely, the more the Iranian public and the world will be able to hear their messages, and the better they can assert their views.

While the Iranian regime is deeply concerned about losing control over information technology and equally concerned that such measures will provide an avenue for highlighting its arbitrary practices.

These are what Ayatollah Boroujerdi believes and acts on accordingly. So we worked out for many years that religious laws should be updated according to modern human requirements based on new sciences.

Britain reopens it s Embassy in Iran. (Photo: Reuters)

Britain reopens it s Embassy in Iran. (Photo: Reuters)

Clarion: Finally, how will the nuclear deal affect human rights in Iran?

Hosseini: Although nuclear negotiations with Iran could provide opportunities to utilize diplomacy for improving Iran’s human rights situation, the subject of human rights was eliminated from the agenda and negotiations. They just agreed on some technological points and financial and economic sanctions. So the destiny of countless prisoners of beliefs and jailed innocent people were not important for the authorities and they just have considered their economic benefits and interests.

With a quick glance at the reports of human rights violations in Iran by international human rights organizations, the repressive elements within the security and intelligence forces and the judiciary, have retained wide powers and continued to be the main perpetrators of rights abuses. Executions have continued. Security and intelligence forces have arrested journalists, bloggers, and social media activists, and revolutionary courts handed down heavy sentences against them. Furthermore, Ayatollah Kazemeni Boroujerdi has faced new charges from the Special Clerical Court due to publication of his new book since April 2015.

We sincerely believe that the current deals and the final agreement are not proper to control the regime and prevent its leaders’ ambitions. They have a theocratic regime and they want to export their beliefs abroad. And they need superior power to do so.

We never believed in “Agreement OR War.” We think that there are a lot of other solutions apart of the current agreement far from violence. For example political sanctions are a simple way instead of extensive economic ones. If all countries close the regime’s embassies and consulates and declare that they never recognize them as the legal government of Iran, will the current religious dictators halt their military ambitions?

This can also be achieved by global support for a secular and democratic movement in Iran such as the plan suggested by Ayatollah Boroujerdi.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Tayebeh Hosseini, president of the Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group (Photo: © Supplied)

The Unknown: The Day I was called a Woman at the Age of 9 in Iran [Video]

The Glazov Gang is proud and excited to introduce its new feature: The Unknown. The producer of the Gang, Anni Cyrus, now enters the stage.

We now present the first blockbuster episode, The Day I Was Called a Woman by Islam, in which Anni shares the harrowing story of how her childhood ended at the age of 9 in Iran.

Don’t miss it!

Iran: 40,000 Muslim Girls Under the Age of 15 Married Per Year

There is no distinction between child marriage and slavery. If anything, child marriage is worse: the child, unlike an adult slave (or a slave with his or her parents around) is entirely at the mercy of her “husband.” But Muhammad married Aisha when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine, and that makes it right, and to be imitated by Muslims for all time.

Child-bride

“40,000 Iranian Girls Married Under the Age of 15 Per Year,” CP, August 24, 2015 (thanks to Blazing Cat Fur):

More than 40,000 Iranian girls under the age of 15 were married during the last calendar year in Iran, according to Iranian officials, most to older men.

The number has remained relatively constant for the last 10 years, adding up to some 420,000 girls.

The girls were wed oftentimes to men more than four times their age.

The statistics were recently detailed by the head of the regime’s Social Emergency Coordination Center, Majid Arjmandi.

According to the state-run Shahrvand newspaper, Arjmandi also said in recent years there were at least 360 girls under the age of 14 who were married to older men, with some of the girls below the age of 10.

Researchers say the real numbers of young Iranian girls married to older men is much higher than the official statistics.

Farideh Karimi, a member of the opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and a human rights activist, called the regime’s marriage laws “institutionalized pedophilia.”

Karimi pointed out while Iran is a state party to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states 18 is the minimum age of adulthood and thus marriage, Iran’s Civil Code (Article 1,041) allows girls to marry at the age of 13, and boys at the age of 15. It furthermore allows girls to be married at a younger age with approval from a court.

“The mullahs’ regime is trying to present its institutionalized pedophilia to the international community under the guise of national culture and customs; yet its fundamentalist laws have nothing to do with Iranian culture and are based on a fundamentalist interpretation of religion,” said Karimi. “The mullahs’ laws in Iran mirror the practices of ISIS (Daesh/the Islamic State) against young girls.”

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on PamelaGeller.com. To stay on top of what’s really happening please follow Pamela Geller on Twitter and like her on Facebook here.

Why Should the Islamic Republic be Overthrown? by Reza Parchizadeh

Thirty-five years, the lifetime of a generation, has passed since the 1979 Revolution in Iran; a revolution against the despotism of the Pahlavi monarchy that led to the formation of a so-called “Islamic Republic” in Iran. Since its very inception in February 1979, contrary to the initial popular aspirations to liberty that had resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy, the Islamic Republic descended upon the civil society like the hammer of gods and embarked upon an overwhelming, systematic violation of human rights and at the same time a calculated movement away from the expected democracy.

Executing the officials and affiliates of the former regime without any trial (or after drumhead trials); continuous cracking down on the various political/cultural/social trends and movements; establishing strict and at times humiliating institutions for control of social behavior in general and making the “Islamic hijab” mandatory for women in particular; persecuting the ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities; systematic purging of critical intellectuals and political opponents both inside and outside of Iran; keeping in custody countless prisoners of conscience in dreadful detention centers where organized torture and mass execution is the order of the day; suppressing student and popular movements for liberty and democracy; politically/militarily intervening in the neighboring countries and attempting to make them satellite states through the use of terrorism, oppression and massacre; and the most nefarious and the source of all evil, drawing up a constitution based upon religion and revolving around the Shiite concept of “Guardianship of the Jurist” – which grants immense executive powers to the Supreme Leader as the sole representative of God on Earth; these are only a handful of the substantial anti-humanistic and anti-democratic procedures and practices of the Islamic Republic which, in Hanna Arendt’s words, have made “evil” not only in Iran but also in most of the Middle East “banal”.

Of course, during the past thirty-five years many different voices have been raised in protest against the said regime, demanding its overthrow and replacement with a democratic system amenable to the principles of human rights. All the same, these protests have done little so far in the way of fundamental change in the political system in Iran. I believe that among the reasons why the protests and movements against the Islamic Republic have generally failed, alongside many other problematics, one has been a dearth of deep and extensive theoretic understanding of the nature of the regime and how it functions; another has been the absence of a prevalent “subversive/transformative” discourse with a strong theoretical foundation; and last but not least, the nonexistence of a comprehensive democratic program to replace the Islamic Republic.

Not that there haven’t been steps taken in that direction; for a rather good number of informed and committed individuals from different walks have been treading that path for a long time now. However, the thinness of their subversive/transformative discourse against the thickness of the discourses opposing it on the one hand and the limits on the range of their discourse – most importantly, strictures on the public access – against the wide range of their opposing discourses on the other hand have rendered them for the most part inadequate and thus ineffectual.

In that light, the aim that I follow by publishing this collection of essays is to make the subversive/transformative discourse more far-reaching by dint of introducing and investigating a number of rather uncharted concepts and problematics in that regard; for it is only through the “consensus” of similar particular discourses that a general and popular discourse can take shape and have practical effect. This I hope will help the concerned audiences to get a better grasp of the situation in Iran which will in turn assist them in taking proper measures to set it right. As such, the essays in this book have been penned first and foremost in order to show that to put an end to the banality of evil and establish the principles of human rights and achieve a democratic system not only in Iran but also in the wider Middle East it is essential to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

Although in different essays I have occasionally reflected upon the “method” of that subversion, and my personal inclination is towards a popular revolution, that method is not necessarily the core of concentration of this book. That is because I believe the method of subversion is in practice the result of a host of different factors contingent upon a significant number of conditions that emerge in a given time in a given place, and are therefore mostly unpredictable. Nevertheless, what is a given for me is that for the reasons enumerated in this introduction and expounded on in the body of the book, it is mandatory that the Islamic Republic as a system be eventually overthrown. This is the “teleological” claim of this book.

However, I do not take for granted this teleological claim and commit myself throughout this book to explaining and expounding upon it by means of “accumulation of evidence” against the existence of the Islamic Republic. The whyness of this teleological claim will be investigated through an attempt to answer the question “what is the Islamic Republic”. In other words, this collection of essays will be in essence a study in the “ontology” of the Islamic Republic. I consider the whatness of the Islamic Republic an assemblage of particular “phenomena” whose coming together constructs the general phenomenon of the Islamic Republic. This is the “methodological” claim of this book.

According to The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy (2004), phenomenon is the “[p]erceptual appearance in general, that is, what may be observed and how things look” (517). According to Heidegger, “Phenomenon means that which shows itself in itself” (517). My critical interpretation of these definitions is that phenomena are what are generally recognizable – if not necessarily acceptable – “objectively”, that is, through the five senses in the medium of time and space, for many individuals with similar experiences and a rather common historical background.

As it happens, Blackwell also emphasizes this objectivity when it mentions that “Husserl’s phenomenology was deeply influenced by Descartes’s demand that knowledge be clear and distinct and opposed relying on any a priori assumption that has to be justified elsewhere” (517). The study of phenomena is duly called “phenomenology”. To some extent predicated upon the given definitions of phenomenon, again according to Blackwell and in keeping with the approach adopted by a school that included such heterogeneous thinkers as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, the “slogan” of phenomenology is “to the things (phenomena) themselves” (517). That is exactly what I am going to do in and with this collection of essays: to study the things (phenomena) as they are.

However, I and the classic phenomenologists part company at this very juncture; for when phenomenology as an “approach”, and that mostly in its common definition, is our shared instrument, the “material” we study proves to be different. Simply put, whereas for them the material is a universal set of “subjective” phenomena including the mind and the “structure of consciousness”; for me in this collection of essays the material is a very particular set of “objective” historical, political, social and cultural phenomena that either construct or reinforce the Islamic Republic. These phenomena encompass a broad range of subjects such as Islamism, isolationism,extrinsicism, Israelophobia, false alternatives, non-reformability, crisis creation, extralegality, cultural hegemony, atomization of society, regional imperialism, and foreign intervention, with each of which I have dealt in detail in these essays in an attempt to define, explain, and analyze them.

Here I must clarify that not all these phenomena belong in the realm of the state or immediate state politics, and neither has their inception necessarily occurred in the era of the Islamic Republic. However, their discursive extension in the course of history which has heavily influenced not only the Islamic Republic but also the Iranian society as a whole has made them the subject of study of this book. It goes without saying that there is a logical possibility that any given phenomenon and its features will not remain the same in the passage of time under the influence of different factors and conditions; therefore, it is quite possible that the characteristics and even the very existence of the phenomena studied in this book may not hold true in the long run. What is crucial here is that the existence and characteristics of the phenomena under study hold true “according to existing evidence” in “their time and place of study”.

The fact of these phenomena holding true at present can also prove useful for the understanding of the past by the future generations. As such, a written testimony as to the howness of the present will remain for the coming generations so that they can keep track of their past and thus won’t commit the same mistakes that their forerunners did; as Iranians of today have done many times due to the compulsory separation from their near past and especially the era of the Constitutional Revolution (1905-1907), the first revolution with strong tendencies towards democracy in all of Asia. It is true that every generation should take care of its own immediate problems, but it is only fit and functional that it does so in the context of history. Of course, in doing that, it should avoid entangling itself in the mesh of the ideas of the past; for the past is to be the torch of the future, and not the fetter around its feet.

It must be emphasized right here that we must also be wary of reducing a system (a general phenomenon) to a number of visible constituents (particular phenomena), for the end result of a system is not necessarily the sum total of its “visible” constituents, and there are always invisible factors within or even without the system that influence its whatness and at times how it functions. For instance, the Islamic Republic is not just Islamism, the mullahs, the Revolutionary Guards, brainwashing, torture, and execution; it is all of them plus many other things that are not necessarily immediately visible. Occasionally, the Islamic Republic is we ourselves when we unconsciously get to play in the confines of its discourse; and when we forfeit our initiative by leaving it to the individuals and organizations close to the regime, futilely believing that what they do constitutes a movement towards democracy. In that situation, the Islamic Republic is not separate from us and has no life apart from the life of those thoughts and behaviors of ours that help extend it.

Nevertheless, an intense study of the visible constituents of a system and accumulation of evidence about them is certain to help us understand more profoundly the general “behavioral patterns” of that system, and such understanding is likely to result in an improvement in our ability to predict those behaviors, which in turn is important for choosing the proper method for dealing with that system. That said, I do not claim to have studied all the phenomena that construct the Islamic Republic, for that is an impossible feat. For me, it is enough that the fundamental phenomena studied here be set before the eyes of the reader so that the whatness and howness of those phenomena could clearly drive home the necessity of subverting the Islamic Republic.

The objectivist methods employed in this book follow, implement and articulate, with different degrees, the five very basic principles that any objectivist theory needs to consider, i.e. occurrence, frequency, and distribution of phenomena, and having an explanatory and a predictive nature. Should these methods become popular, everybody else could utilize them in order to study any other phenomena on their own; hopefully, this would also allow me to enjoy their discoveries and by that improve my knowledge and understanding of other phenomena.

I must now turn to the opponents of the discourse of subversion/transformation. For years, through a host of deceptive moves, they have taken to promoting an ambiguous discourse both inside and outside of Iran so that they can actively prevent the popularization of the discourse of subversion/transformation in the Iranian public sphere. They have engaged in activities such as hobnobbing with illustrious international thinkers, philosophers, and political, social and human rights activists; procuring noteworthy international human rights and journalism awards with the assistance of professional behind-the-scene lobbies (which has enhanced the range of their discourse on both the domestic and the international scenes); and appealing to the foreign governments that are in appearance against the Islamic Republic and exploiting their state media such as the BBC and the VOA; and by all these have drawn a black veil of ignorance on the anti-humanistic and anti-democratic essence of the Islamic Republic and its banality of evil.

Through the so-called discourse of “Religious Intellectualism”, these opponents of democracy have put forward the paradoxical concept of “Religious Democracy” that intends to maintain the status of religion in the area of politics by merely making modifications to the structure of the present regime and granting some limited social freedoms to the people and therefore keep the Islamic Republic in place by hook or by crook. However, this whole charade only constitutes a misrepresentation of the truth by this coterie who call themselves “Reformists” and “Religious-Nationalists”.

Many of these people are in fact the former officials and close affiliates of the Islamic Republic themselves, and they have been benefiting from the illegitimate and unmerited political, social, and economic rewards of being part of that regime. They are, therefore, naturally for the maintaining of the regime through the use of the many means they have at their disposal. However, by frequently putting themselves up as the “opposition” to the Islamic Republic, they in effect intentionally push to the margins the genuine but not so well-to-do opposition to the Islamic Republic.

A portion of the “leftist” Iranians in exile as well as a limited but influential number of the European and American leftists and liberals, whose only concern seems to be waging a ferocious war on the crimes of capitalism while having nothing whatsoever to do with the crimes of religious fundamentalism and Middle Eastern despotism, also keep lobbying for these Religious Intellectuals in the West. Since this coterie and its discourse constitutes a particular phenomenon within the larger context of the general phenomenon of the Islamic Republic, it will be challenged in this book.

The Religious Intellectuals’ classical Islamic reading of the Platonic and the Aristotelian worldviews makes them oriented towards accepting and applying the binary divisions of “form” and “substance” (Plato) and “accident” and “essence” (Aristotle), i.e. the very divisional deficiency that Derrida diagnoses as the root of “Western Metaphysics”. Based on that binarism, the Religious Intellectuals consider the existent Islamic Republic as the “crust” – that according to them can take a different shape – and, as opposed to that, they consider the nonexistent, ideal “Islamic State” as the “core” – which according to them must definitely be constant and permanent.

However, contrary to their stance, I believe that the core and the crust are the same; for after all any phenomenon is the sum total of its components, i.e. its ideas, discourses, and practices. In other words, the “essence” of a phenomenon is very much its “appearance”. As Berkeley says, “esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived)”. Predicated on that principle, it can be claimed that the ontology of a sociopolitical phenomenon to a great extent also constitutes its “epistemology”; which means that the “whatness” of that phenomenon is to a great degree equal to the “howness” of its ideational methods and behavioral patterns. Thus, the “truth” of a phenomenon is what it “is”, and not what it can or should “be”. Indeed, no rational/empirical mode of thinking will justify “what-is” on the basis of “what-is-not.” That which references “what-is-not” in order to justify “what-is” is neither science nor scholarship; it is religion, whatever appellation it is given.

It is with regard to these very binaristic, subjectivistic, and pseudo-religious fallacies of the Religious Intellectuals that the phenomenological study of the Islamic Republic becomes critically imperative; for the study of the Islamic Republic as an assortment of phenomena assessable in keeping with factual evidence will shut the door on the extremely abstract and anti-evidential ideations and interpretations of the Religious Intellectuals who are intent upon salvaging their beloved Islamic Republic based upon those abstractions.

Since phenomena are constituted/located in a given spatio-temporal medium and are therefore tangible via the five human senses, it is only natural that the study of “metaphysics” and “divine matters” lie outside their territory. It is exactly because of this that the Religious Intellectuals who are constantly concerned with religion and its interpolation into politics should not take kindly to phenomenology or any other objectivist method, and instead stick to abstract musings and hermeneutical ravings that leave the way open for their subjectivist and anti-historicist interpretations. Accordingly, the main task they have set themselves for the past couple of decades has been to eliminate historical differences “on the paper” via the panacea of hermeneutics so that they won’t have to acknowledge the validity of those differences in reality and get to deal with them “in practice”.

By taking advantage of the long and influential presence of mysticism in the Iranian mindset; by exploiting rhetoric and excessively playing with words and thereby reducing the truth to the text; by frequent term- and name-droppings; by adopting an “argument-from-authority” attitude instead of aspiring to achieve elucidation and helping the reader really “understand” whatever the argument and its point is, and in so doing compelling the reader to bow to the “erudition” of the author and stoop to the sublime and incorporeal “grandeur” of the text; by all these means the Religious Intellectuals conveniently confuse the undeniable historical facts of religion and obfuscate the nature of  the “religious state” in Iran and occasionally the rest of the world in order to justify the necessity of religion in and for state politics. And this has become possible for them only because their particular kind of approach – which they have made popular via the means at their disposal – grants them such license.

By brewing together the various and at times contradictory ingredients adopted from the works of the Islamic sages, polemicists, and poets, and the ancient, medieval, modern and postmodern Western thinkers and philosophers, these present-day sophists and modern-time alchemists have made a soporific potion only a sip of which instantly kills off the desire for the truth. They who are to a great extent indebted to postmodern approaches, without giving much credit and weight to the anti-authoritative, liberatory, and justice-demanding aspects of postmodernism and with unduly dwelling on its relativistic nature, take advantage of the discursive diffusion predicated upon that relativism in order to advance their own anti-democratic and at heart anti-humanistic agenda. As a consequence, such has become the situation today that amidst this bedlam of absolute relativism these “intellectuals” have created day cannot be told from night.

It is first and foremost in defiance of this gloomy way of intellection that I have chosen in my works to write vividly and to study hard evidence instead of speculating about mere abstractions. This text and many others by my pen are explicable and assessable by reference to facts beyond them. Very simply, one can go and look for what has been studied in the text “outside” of it, and if it couldn’t be found out there, reject the text. In other words, verifiability or falsifiability of this text is predicated upon the existence or nonexistence of the evidence outside of it upon which it draws, and not on abstract notions and metaphysical matters to which the human senses have no experiential access whatsoever.

All the articles in this book concentrate on an objective study of phenomena that have constructed the Islamic Republic. My aim in taking that approach has been to popularize a set of objectivist methods in the intellectual sphere of Iran that for different reasons have either not been established or if established have been pushed to the margins today. Such marginalization of those ways has left the door open for the invasion of absolutely subjectivist methods, which in turn has led to the contemporary sociopolitical, intellectual, and cultural catastrophe. As such, it can be said that the entirety of this book constitutes a “discourse on the method”.

Here I must clarify that my emphasis on phenomenology does not necessarily entail an exclusion/avoidance/negligence of other approaches and methods of study, for in this collection of essays I have employed many different, mostly objectivist, methods for the study of different issues. What I mean by underscoring phenomenology, however, is that my concern has been an objectivist study of the phenomena – with the specifics explained above – that construct the Islamic Republic; phenomena that I believe for their anti-humanistic and anti-democratic existence the Islamic Republic must be overthrown.

From what has been said so far it must be deducible that I do not believe in any a priori “grand narrative” and ready-made prescription that has already assigned the points to be accepted and rejected; and the objectivist approach that I put forward and use in this book also demonstrates that I do not accept or reject any phenomenon unless I have studied it in light of concrete evidence in the medium of time and space and against the backdrop of humanistic and democratic principles. This is in essence a pluralistic approach that is in line with the final goal of this collection of essays which is the promotion and establishment of democracy.

In the end, I must express my gratitude to the people who undertook to make this book available to the public. My special thanks goes to my dear friends, Dr. David B. Downing and Mr. Abbas Khosravi Farsani, who suggested valuable amendments and improvements to the text. Past that, this book is the fruit of the toil of a group of people who have undertaken to publish it without benefiting from any state or corporate funding and without having access to massive propaganda machines to promote it. Whereas in the past thirty-five years the publishing industry in Iran has come under heavy supervision, regulation, and censorship by the Islamic Republic and thereby has lost much of its enlightening and edifying function, the Iranian publishing houses in exile – whether Internet-based or paper-based – despite all the hurdles in their way, have managed to pull the weight of improving the knowledge and understanding of Iranians both inside and outside of Iran. This calls for great appreciation.

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 EDITORS NOTE: This is the preface to the book of the same name, soon to be published by the Literature Club. Reza Parchizadeh, the author, is a Persian political theorist, analyst and activist. He has a BA and an MA in English Language and Literature from University of Tehran, Iran; has studied Media and Communication Studies at Örebro University, Sweden; and is a Ph.D. student in English Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). At IUP, he is also editor-in-chief of the English Department’s Newsletter and editorial assistant of the department’s journal, Works and Days. His research interests include theory, philosophy, history, cultural studies, and political studies. He has published five books and many articles so far both in Persian and English.

Iran: 3 Women Chained to Men and Paraded in Tehran

NCRI – Iran’s fundamentalist regime this week enchained and paraded three young women and two men in central Tehran, a derogatory act used to discourage social dissent by Iranian youths.

The degrading street-parade took place on Monday. All five victims were chained together and paraded on the back of a Toyota truck from the Lashgar Junction until Monirieh Square.

The suppressive security forces driving the truck repeated honked the horn to draw attention, but passers-by were visibly distraught and angered by this medieval and degrading act.

Authorities frequently parade young men, forced to sit backwards on donkeys, in their local neighborhood so as to embarrass and humiliate them. Previous such barbaric acts of parading youths targeted young men on charges of disregarding nightly curfews or showing disrespect towards security agents. This time women were also a major target.

Also this week two women were hanged in Iran.

In the first case, the mullahs’ regime on Wednesday hanged a 43-year-old mother in a prison in the city of Karaj, in Alborz Province, north-west of Tehran.

The woman, identified as Ms. Pari-Dokht Molai-Far, was hanged in the notorious Qezelhesar Prison. The mother of one had been imprisoned in the notorious Qarchak Prison for Women in the city of Varamin for the past three years and was transferred to Qezelhesar to face execution.

Qarchak Prison, also referred to as ‘Qarchak Death Camp’, was used by the Iranian regime as a place to brutally torture and rape those arrested during the 2009 anti-regime popular protests. The death of at least four young protesters under torture in Qarchak turned into a scandal for the Iranian regime.

A second woman was hanged in Iran on Thursday. She was among five prisoners who were hanged in the Shahab Prison in the south-eastern city of Kerman.

The deputy chief of the regime’s Social Security Organization on Thursday acknowledged the mullahs’ misogynist policies in Hassan Rouhani’s government.

Some 50,000 female employees have been fired from work in the past 18 month alone, the state-run news agency ISNA quoted the official as saying, adding that the dismissals took place while the women were on pregnancy leave.

In recent days, women in Iran’s western Kurdistan region have once again come under acid attacks by organized misogynist gangs affiliated to the regime.

RELATED ARTICLE: Iran: Men bound and humiliated in public before being charged

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of image is from a ceremonial Shia Ashura procession that celebrates the heroism of the prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Hussein, and his family. The girls and women in the photo symbolize Hussein’s sister, who was taken in chains to Damascus after he was beheaded.

Iran Book: How to Outwit U.S. and Destroy Israel

Palestine-by-Khamenei-240x300

Read Amir Taheri’ s highlights from a Shiite Islamic theocratic book by Ayatollah Khamenei published in today’s New York Post. It is a veritable manual on how he intends to erase Israel and replace it with a Muslim dominated state, “Palestine” the title of his road map.Justification for this Khamenei explains in this tract is rooted in Islamic that all places conquered by the sword of Jihad are a trust forever decreed by their god Allah and must be retaken and population subjugated and treated as dhimmi with few rights. His technique is to use low intensity conflicts making life uncomfortable for the majority Jewish population in Israel. Hence the rocket wars from proxies Hamas and potentially Hezbollah as occurred during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. These asymmetrical conflicts coupled with the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran would under Khamenei’s plan would force the vast majority of Jewish Israelis to return to their countries of origin.

Only such Jews could remain as subjugated dhimmi in his Muslim version of a state if they can prove they are descended from the original inhabitants. He would sponsor a referendum for eligible Palestinians to return, including the majority of residents in Jordan. Clearly Ayatollah is reflecting on how well President Obama caved to his demands during negotiations for the nuclear pact endorsed by the UN Security Council isolating Israel in the process. When translated from Farsi into Hebrew and English Khamenei’s “Palestine” will doubtless provide fodder for Israelis and Americans urging rejection of the Iran nuclear pact and consider taking pre emptive actions to quash the Ayatollah’s nightmarish pan Islamic plot. Maybe its time for their nemesis, the Dajjul their feared Jewish equivalent of an evil anti Shia jinn to arise from Khorosan with a force to destroy their apocalyptic vision. Just like the legendary Jewish rising in ancient Persia read in the Megillah of Queen Esther during the Festival of Purim, when the plot of Haman the agagite, vizier to King Achashverosh, to destroy all Jews was foiled and both he was hung along with his ten sons. Perhaps Khamenei is the contemporary Haman the agagite and will suffer the same fate at the hands of his own people. Alevai!


Iran publishes book on how to outwit U.S. and destroy Israel

by Amir Taheri, New York Post, August 1, 2015:

While Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama do their best to paper over the brutality of the Iranian regime and force through a nuclear agreement, Iran’s religious leader has another issue on his mind: The destruction of Israel.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has published a new book called “Palestine,” a 416-page screed against the Jewish state. A blurb on the back cover credits Khamenei as “The flagbearer of Jihad to liberate Jerusalem.”

A friend sent me a copy from Iran, the only place the book is currently available, though an Arabic translation is promised soon.

Obama administration officials likely hope that no American even hears about it.
‘Reclaiming Muslim lands’

Khamenei makes his position clear from the start: Israel has no right to exist as a state.

He uses three words. One is “nabudi” which means “annihilation.” The other is “imha” which means “fading out,” and, finally, there is “zaval” meaning “effacement.”

Khamenei claims that his strategy for the destruction of Israel is not based on anti-Semitism, which he describes as a European phenomenon. His position is instead based on “well-established Islamic principles.”

One such principle is that a land that falls under Muslim rule, even briefly, can never again be ceded to non-Muslims. What matters in Islam is ownership of a land’s government, even if the majority of inhabitants are non-Muslims.

Khomeinists are not alone in this belief.

Dozens of maps circulate in the Muslim world showing the extent of Muslim territories lost to the Infidel that must be recovered.

These include large parts of Russia and Europe, almost a third of China, the whole of India and parts of The Philippines and Thailand.

However, according to Khamenei, Israel, which he labels as “adou” and “doshman,” meaning “enemy” and “foe,” is a special case for three reasons.

The first is that it is a loyal “ally of the American Great Satan” and a key element in its “evil scheme” to dominate “the heartland of the Ummah.”

The second reason is that Israel has waged war on Muslims on a number of occasions,thus becoming “a hostile infidel,” or “kaffir al-harbi.”

Finally, Israel is a special case because it occupies Jerusalem, which Khamenei describes as “Islam’s third Holy City.”

He intimates that one of his “most cherished wishes” is to one day pray in Jerusalem.
‘Israel fatigue’

Khamenei insists that he is not recommending “classical wars” to wipe Israel off the map. Nor does he want to “massacre the Jews.” What he recommends is a long period of low-intensity warfare designed to make life unpleasant if not impossible for a majority of Israeli Jews so that they leave the country.

His calculation is based on the assumption that large numbers of Israelis have double-nationality and would prefer emigration to the United States and Europe to daily threats of death.

Khamenei makes no reference to Iran’s nuclear program. But the subtext is that a nuclear-armed Iran would make Israel think twice before trying to counter Khamenei’s strategy by taking military action against the Islamic Republic.

In Khamenei’s analysis, once the cost of staying in Israel has become too high for many Jews, Western powers, notably the US, which have supported the Jewish state for decades, might decide that the cost of doing so is higher than possible benefits.

Thanks to President Obama, the US has already distanced itself from Israel to a degree unimaginable a decade ago.

Khamenei counts on what he sees as “Israel fatigue.” The international community would start looking for what he calls “a practical and logical mechanism” to end the old conflict.

Khamenei’s “practical and logical mechanism” excludes the two-state formula in any form.

“The solution is a one-state formula,” he declares. That state, to be called Palestine, would be under Muslim rule but would allow non-Muslims, including some Israeli Jews who could prove “genuine roots” in the region to stay as “protected minorities.”

Under Khamenei’s scheme, Israel, plus the West Bank and Gaza, would revert to a United Nations mandate for a brief period during which a referendum is held to create the new state of Palestine.

All Palestinians and their descendants, wherever they are, would be able to vote, while Jews “who have come from other places” would be excluded.

Khamenei does not mention any figures for possible voters in his dream referendum. But studies by the Islamic Foreign Ministry in Tehran suggest that at least eight million Palestinians across the globe would be able to vote against 2.2 million Jews “acceptable” as future second-class citizens of new Palestine. Thus, the “Supreme Guide” is certain of the results of his proposed referendum….

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‘Islam’s Biggest Rock Star’ Banned in Iran After Performing in Israel

This story illustrates the intransigence of the mullahcracy and the depths of its Jew-hatred. Sami Yusuf didn’t perform for Israeli Jews, but for Muslims — but he did it in the “occupied territories,” and that was enough for the Iranians.

This is the regime that the Obama Administration is enabling to get nuclear weapons.

“‘Islam’s biggest rock star’ banned in Iran after performing in Israel,” i24 News, July 29, 2015:

“Islam’s biggest rock star” has been banned on Iran’s state-run television because he recently performed in an Israeli city, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Sami Yusuf, 35, who left Tehran for Britain with his family when he was three, performed for Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Nazareth during the Ramadan.

Entekhtab, an Iranian news website, reported, “Sami Yusuf’s recent trip to the occupied territories (Christian and Jewish holy sites including the site of the baptism of Jesus Christ) is the reason why his works are banned from the state television.”

The singer issued a statement Monday on Instagram, Facebook and his website, writing: “I was very surprised to hear that the official state TV and Radio for the Islamic Republic of Iran has banned my music and likeness due to my recent performance in Nazareth.

“I was not aware that bringing smiles to the faces of my beloved Palestinian brothers and sisters could cause such offense to the government of Iran. I am sorry that my precious listeners in Iran will be denied my music for sometime, but I will not apologize for performing in Palestine.

“Music is permeable and was never meant to be confined to borders nor used for political ends, rather, it was meant to echo freely throughout space and time. May we one day see a Free Palestine.”

Yusuf, 35, who Time magazine has called Islam’s biggest rock star, is one of Britain’s most famous Muslims worldwide.

Traveling to Israel is a crime in Iran punishable by up to five years in prison.

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Raha Bahreini: Iran is Ruthlessly Crushing All Dissent

Raha Bahreini is an Iranian-Canadian human rights lawyer and advocate. She is the Iran researcher for Amnesty International and works to raise awareness of the multitude of cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Iranian regime.

She tweets here.

 One of the cases she is working on is that of Atena Farghandani, an Iranian cartoonist and human-rights advocate who lampooned the Iranian legislators by drawing them as animals, criticizing them for passing a law which severely restricts birth control for men and women.

For this, she was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.

Raha Bahreini graciously agreed to speak with Clarion Project Research Fellow Elliot Friedland about the case.

Atena Farghandani's cartoon depicting Iranian legislators as animals.

Atena Farghandani’s cartoon depicting Iranian legislators as animals.

Clarion Project: When and how did the case of Atena Farghandani come to your attention? 

Raha Bahreini: Amnesty International first started working on the case of Atena Farghadani in February 2015 when she had started a hunger strike in protest at her detention in Gharchak Prison, in the city of Varamin.

Gharchak prison has no section for political prisoners and where conditions of detention are extremely poor.

On 25 February Atena Farghadani’s lawyer said that she had suffered a heart attack and had briefly lost consciousness as a result of her hunger strike. At the time, Atena Farghadani had said that she would not end her hunger strike unless the authorities met her request to transfer her to Tehran’s Evin Prison.

On 26 February she was taken to a hospital outside prison.

Atena Farghandani. (Photo: Justice for Iran)

Atena Farghandani. (Photo: Justice for Iran)

Clarion: She has been sentenced to 12.5 years just for drawing a cartoon. What is the Iranian regime so afraid of? 

Bahreini: Atena Farghadani’s conviction and long prison sentence is absurd but frightening.

It shows that the Iranian authorities stop at nothing in their attempts to frighten young activists into silence and submission and crush their hopes for a brighter future. Atena Farghdani is among dozens of women activists who have been arbitrarily arrested and jailed in Iran for vaguely worded  charges such as “spreading propaganda against the system”, “insulting state officials” and “gathering and colluding against national security.”

These charges are frequently used by the authorities to curb the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and squeeze the life out of Iran’s civil society.

Amnesty International Iran Researcher Raha Bahreini. (Screenshot)

Amnesty International Iran Researcher Raha Bahreini. (Screenshot)

Clarion: What is Amnesty International doing to pressure the Iranian regime to release her? 

Bahreini: Amnesty International has issued numerous urgent actions and press releases to raise awareness about the appalling way in which Iranian judicial authorities have treated Atena Farghadani and violated her rights to freedom of expression and association.

Touched and outraged by this terrible story of injustice, tens of thousands of Amnesty members and supporters from around the world have raised their voice and signed Amnesty International petitions.

In May 2015, Amnesty International UK held a demonstration in front of the Iranian Consulate in London and tried to deliver 33,681 signatures to the Iranian authorities.

Amnesty International UK tried to deliver 33,000 of these signatures to the Iranian consulate in UK but the authorities refused to accept it.

Since then tens of thousands of more signatures have been collected in different countries and we are mailing them to the Iranian authorities.

Supporters of Amnesty International attempt to deliver a petition demanding the release of Atena Farghandani to the Iranian Consulate in London. (Photo: Supplied).

Supporters of Amnesty International attempt to deliver a petition demanding the release of Atena Farghandani to the Iranian Consulate in London. (Photo: Supplied).

Clarion: What can ordinary people do to support the campaign to release her? 

Bahreini: We encourage people to write in Persian, English or their own language calling on the Iranian authorities to release Atena Farghadani immediately and unconditionally.

She is a prisoner of conscience held solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association, urge Iran to ensure that her conviction and sentence are quashed; and remind them that Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party, protects the right to freedom of expression, which includes artistic activities.

The appeals should be sent to the following authorities:

Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: (via website) http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter
Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English), @Khamenei_ar (Arabic), @Khamenei_es (Spanish).
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency 

President of the Islamic republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
The Presidency
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter:@HassanRouhani (English), @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seated before a picture of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seated before a picture of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

Clarion: The Iranian regime is trying to muzzle all forms of free speech. Do you see human rights activists like Atena growing in number?

How can future activists be protected from suffering the same repression as Atena? 

Bahreini: Yes, Atena Farghdani is among hundreds of human rights activists who have been and continue to be sentenced to years in prison on charges stemming from her peaceful activism.

In the same month that Atena Farghdani was sentenced to 12 and a half years in Prison, two other young human rights activists with whom she worked, Atena Daemi and Omid Ali Shenas were also sentenced to more than a decade in prison. Such harsh and unjust sentences seem to be part of a disturbing trend in Iran, where the cost of voicing peaceful dissent is escalating.

Punishments are now even worse than those issued in the post-2009 election crackdown

Generations of young activists in Iran have been targeted for arbitrary arrest and detention in a ruthless attempt to crush dissent.

In order for this appalling situation to change, the Iranian authorities must immediately amend laws that include vague and overly broad national security-related offences or offences such as “insulating officials or Islamic principles” that criminalise the exercise of civil and political rights.

They must also address serious abuses in Iran’s criminal justice system including in relation to the independence of the judiciary, the lack of legal safeguards against torture and other ill-treatment, lack of access to an independent lawyer of one’s own choosing, and the right to reparation and remedy for victims of human rights violations.

For years, these shortcomings have facilitated a fast-track to prison for countless dissidents and peaceful demonstrators.

Iran’s criminal justice system requires a major overhaul in all these areas in order to put an end to this system of repression and ensure that future activists are protected from the repression suffered by the likes of Atena Farghdani.

A guard at Iran's notorious Evin Prison. (Photo: © Reuters)

A guard at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion: Do you have a message for Atena and others in Iran suffering under the repressive dictates of the regime? 

Bahreini: The momentum for change within Iran is being driven primarily by a courageous movement of human rights defenders and activists.

These people have highlighted miscarriages of justice and human rights abuses and called, bravely, for freedom and justice.

Amnesty International stands in solidarity with these struggles. Our vision is for every person in Iran and elsewhere in the world to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

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Deal Leaves Behind 3 Americans Cruelly Imprisoned in Iran by Meira Svirsky

Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been held in an Iranian prison since 2012, said that no deal should have been signed until Iran agreed to release the American citizens being held in Iran.

Far from the pronouncement by U.S. President Barack Obama that insisting on the Americans’ release would have weakened the hand of the U.S. in negotiations, making a deal contingent on their release could have easily been incorporated into any agreement.

Three Americans who are being held on dubious and falsified charges and who are suffering severe health issues could certainly have been released in a “magnanimous” humanitarian gesture by the Islamic republic.

Abedini, 35, was arrested in Iran while setting up an orphanage for children. Although he is now an American citizen, he travelled frequently to his native country to visit family and help the country’s citizens. He was charged with undermining state security and received an eight-year prison term.

His family reports he has been beaten severely and now suffers from life-threatening injuries for which he is not receiving adequate medical treatment

“The Iranian government claims to want constructive engagement with the world. Yet, Iran refuses to free Boise [Idaho] Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned since 2012,” said U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)  in a statement.

Another lawmaker from Idaho, Senator Jim Risch, similarly weighed in saying, “The failure of the administration to secure the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, which should have been a simple task, even at the outset of negotiations, has been ignored despite the chorus of pleas to achieve this goal.” Other Abedini supporters questioned Obama’s statement that releasing Abedini is a “priority.”

Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, who has been helping the Abedini family, said in a statement. “It is unconscionable that the Obama Administration would sign a deal with Iran without securing the freedom of Pastor Saeed who has been imprisoned for nearly three years simply because of his Christian faith.”

“President Obama told the Abedini family face-to-face that he considered the release of Pastor Saeed a ‘top priority.’ How could that be a ‘top priority’ when a deal is reached and Pastor Saeed is left behind??” he asked.

Two other Americans are being held in Iran:

Jason Rezaian

Jason Rezaian

Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaianand bureau chief for the Washington Post in Tehran, was arrested close to a year ago in what was originally called a “technical investigation.” After seven month in prison, Iran charged Rezaian with being a spy, saying he gave sensitive information about Iran and its economy to “hostile governments.” He was also charged with “spreading propaganda.” A sporadic trial, under the auspices of a particularly harsh judge, has been closed to the public and press. Rezaian could face 20 years in prison if convicted

Amir Hekmati

Amir Hekmati

Amir Hekmati, 30, went to Iran to visit his grandmother and other family members. Before he travelled to Iran, Hekmati told the Iranian authorities that he was a former U.S. marine (he had been a translator in Iraq, among other positions in the military) and asked them if that would Amir Hekmati create any problems for him. His paperwork was processed and Hekamti set off for Iran, as he had done without problems on two previous visits.

A few weeks after his arrival, Hekmati was arrested and accused of being a spy for the CIA. A court case in January 2012 rendered a conviction, and Hekmati was sentenced to death. However, three months later the conviction was annulled. Yet to date, Hekmati remains imprisoned in Iran.

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Pastor Saeed Abedini with his wife Nagmeh in happier times