Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Persian Letters

An Insider Father And His 'Deviant' Son

Blogger Mehdi Khazali (left) is believed to have served the past 40 days in a tiny cell.
Blogger Mehdi Khazali (left) is believed to have served the past 40 days in a tiny cell.
They are like day and night.

Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali is an insider. He is a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body that is tasked with monitoring the work of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khazali is full of praise for Khamenei, who he says has preserved the Islamic Revolution with the help of God. 

Khazali's son Mehdi is an opposition activist, a blogger, and a staunch critic of the Islamic establishment.

Mehdi, an ophthalmologist, has been arrested several times over the past few years. He's reportedly been in jail for the last 40 days, held in a tiny cell with almost no access to the outside world. Earlier this year, Mehdi was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison and 10 years in exile on charges that included acting against Iran’s national security.

Father and son have vastly different worldviews.

Mehdi has criticized human rights abuses and repression in the Islamic republic and has said that Khamenei has allowed himself to be surrounded by flatterers and servile individuals.  He has accused his father of supporting a group of “corrupt liars.”

Khazali has said in an interview that he kicked his son out of his house when he visited recently.

“I told [my wife] not to greet him,” he said in an interview in the latest issue of “Pasdar-e Islam.” He added that his son is a “deviant” and that he prays for him to be “guided” on the right path.
Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali has renounced contact with his son.Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali has renounced contact with his son.
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Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali has renounced contact with his son.
Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali has renounced contact with his son.

“Wasn’t Imam Hadi [10th imam of the Shi’ites] from the pure dynasty of the [Prophet Muhammad]? His son turned out to be a liar. Wasn’t Noah pure? His son turned out that way. Nor am I higher than holy personalities; nor my son is necessarily worse than their sons, despite that I now have no more contact with him.”

The case is not unique.

In the past 30 years, there have been several other cases of senior clerics and politicians loyal to the Islamic establishment whose children did not share the same enthusiasm.

In his 2005 memoirs, Gholam Reza Hassani, the leader of Friday Prayers in Orumyeh, described how he helped authorities arrest his son Rashid in the 1980s. Rashid, a member of the leftist Fedayin Khalq organization, was executed shortly after his arrest.

Hassani wrote that he wasn’t saddened when he heard the news of Rashid’s execution because he felt he had carried out his duty.

“When it comes to the Islamic Revolution, I will never balk at my duties, even if it comes to my son,” he said.

The relationship between Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary-general of the Expediency Council, and his eldest son Ahmad was also volatile. Ahmad publicly criticized his father and the Islamic establishment after he moved to the United States in 1998. He later returned to Iran. He was found dead in a hotel in Dubai last year.

The son of Rezaei’s adviser, Abdolhossein Ruholamini, was among the protesters killed in the 2009 crackdown that followed the disputed reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.  

Twenty-five-year-old Mohsen Ruholamini reportedly died after being severely beaten at the Kahrizak detention center, which was later closed on the orders of Khamenei. His father, a senior health official, has said that he will fight for justice for his son, whom he described as being kind and honest but stubborn.

Many have blamed Khamenei for the 2009 deaths of opposition protesters. Not Ruholamini, who despite the tragic death of his son seems to remain committed to the Islamic establishment.

“We will survive this very hard tragedy because we trust the system," he said in a 2009 interview with Iran’s English-language Press TV.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brandon from: North America
December 16, 2012 21:43
Even if one does not agree with the Islamic system in Iran, the commitment of its constituency is impressive.No wonder the Western regimes have failed to overthrow the government in Iran.

In the US if one candidate hands out burgers and sugar drinks at a campaign rally people are willing to vote for him. People who worshiped Obama 4 years ago, today curse him. Lack of principles in Western political culture dominated by lobbying and aggressive Foreign Policy is discrediting the entire system.
In Response

by: Keysan from: Iran
December 25, 2012 01:55
Brandon, I fully agree. Things are much easier in a theocratic dictatorship where people either toe the party line or face death, rape, torture (not necessarily in that order).


I'm rather surprised that other countries do not emulate Iran's government. After all, the IRI has been attempting to export the 'Islamic Revolution' and the concept of 'vaaliat-e-faghih' for more than 30 years now.


Finally, Brandon, my dear fellow. Since the West's decadence is oh, so heavily weighing on your poor delicate soul, may I suggest you come to Iran and renouncing your citizenship, gain an Iranian one and join the paradise that is the IRI?
In Response

by: Alidad from: Spain
December 28, 2012 19:29
A shallow and infantile comment - are you indeed "impressed" by the apparent commitment of Iranian officials? As the first respondent said, pack your bags then and go live in Iran; who is forcing you to live in a "discredited" country like the United States? As a friend of mine said at university, never underestimate people's idiocy.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org