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Influential Iranian Cleric Asks 'Why Shoot The People?'

Abdollah Noori is a former interior minister and "trusted lieutenant" of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Abdollah Noori is a former interior minister and "trusted lieutenant" of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Abdollah Noori is a well-known Iranian reformist cleric who has spent months in prison as a result of his having suggested that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's concept of "velayat-e faqih" (Guardianship of the Jurists) was an "innovation." He also served as minister of the Interior during then-President Mohammad Khatami's first term of office.

Noori has issued an open letter in response to the June 12 election results that has appeared -- excerpted or in its entirety -- on a number of Persian-language websites and other media outlets.

Here are some of the highlights.

"The Iranian people have accepted those candidates who went through the Guardians Council's filter, demonstrated their support for the election and for securing their country from greater damage. It is pitiful when people feel that even those votes have been ignored by the government."

Noori goes on to say that the faith of the Iranian people is gone, and if that faith does not return, the entire political system will be the main loser.

He asks how else people can air their grievances about election results when the country's presses are subject to strict censorship. He notes that even public forms of communication are under tight restriction -- people are unable to send text messages, and state television, which is public property, has supported one side in the dispute.

Noori goes on to ridicule President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's characterization of protesters as "rebels and filth," saying those same people are a "zealous nation" when he needs to cite their support.

Noori says the public could grow weary of such treatment, citing the Koranic verse that warns that rulers who are ill-tempered and hard-hearted lose the support of their followers.

if you be tempered and hard- hearted, the people around you will definitely be scattered from you.”

He says people have an inherent right to freedom, and Article 27 of Iran's constitution grants the right to peaceful assembly without official approval.

"Why do you take this right from your people? Why do you grant such permission to your supporters but not to your opposition?".

"I personally feel deep sympathy for those who lost family members and for those who have been wounded, and once again remind those who are encouraging this violence that the Islamic government will be the main loser."

Abdollah Noori then cites the Hadith's caution that "the blasphemous government will survive, but the violent government will not."

-- Mazyar Mokfi