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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's son, Mojtaba Khamenei, is believed to have met with detained opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi.
Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, met with opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi about a month ago and asked him to back down on his opposition to the regime because of the "very critical condition" the country is facing, according to a recent report by an Iranian opposition website.

The February 26 report by the Jaras site has been confirmed by Hassan Yusefi Eshkevari, a religious scholar close to the opposition Green Movement who spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Farda, and also an unnamed source interviewed by the BBC's Persian Service.

The alleged meeting is said to have taken place at the unknown location where Musavi, who has been under house arrest since February 2011, is held. The report says that the opposition leader and former prime minister reacted defiantly to Khamenei's request.

"First of all, I will respond to the supreme leader about what I heard under the condition that there won't be any listening devices or cameras, and no one attends the meeting except [Ali Khamenei] and me," Musavi was quoted as saying by Jaras.

"Second, I want to be given the opportunity to speak to the people on a live television broadcast."

It's not clear whether Mojtaba Khamenei acted on his own or at the behest of his father, who is said to have personally issued the order for the house arrest of opposition figures Musavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi.

Mehdi Karrubi (left) and Mir Hossein Musavi have been under house arrest for a year.
Mehdi Karrubi (left) and Mir Hossein Musavi have been under house arrest for a year.
The opposition leaders were put under house arrest after their call last year for an opposition rally that attracted tens of thousands of protesters. Both men have accused the authorities of massive vote rigging in the 2009 presidential vote and human rights abuses.

Eshkevari speculated that the meeting between Mojtaba Khamenei and Musavi was initiated by Iran's supreme leader, who has the last say in all state matters in the Islamic republic.

"I personally believe that [Mojtaba Khamenei] followed his father's orders. If this is the case, then Khamenei's goal is to find a way out of the current situation because the resistance of Musavi, Karrubi, and [other] political prisoners has created serious problems for Khamenei," Eshkevari said.

"He probably didn't think from Day 1 that the issue would be so serious. He wants a way out but at the same time, he doesn't want to make any concessions. He wanted to reach an agreement with Musavi behind the scenes."

Last week, the Kalame website reported that Musavi had told his daughters, in a telephone conversation, that he was standing firm on his previous stances. "Nothing has changed," he said, according to the opposition website.

Karrubi has also said, in rare meetings with his family, that he refuses to back down on his positions. Karrubi was also quoted in December by his wife as saying that the authorities were trying to turn the March 2 parliamentary elections into a sham vote.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi: "I proudly offer this award to the people of my country."
When Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" won the Oscar for best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards on February 26, he said the following in his acceptance speech, according to Iran’s hard-line Fars news agency:

"I proudly offer this award to the people of my country who, despite all the tensions and hostility of recent months between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program, respect all cultures and civilizations."

In fact, Farhadi never mentioned Iran’s nuclear program in his speech. This is what he actually said:

“At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us, and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award, or a film, or a filmmaker, but because -- at a time of tug of war, intimidation and aggressions exchanged between politicians -- the name of their county, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.

"I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment. Thank you so much."

Fars news agency, which is said to be affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was apparently not happy with Farhadi’s eloquent speech, which rose above politics. So the news agency -- which some Iranians refer to as “False News” -- added its own nuclear flavor to the speech.

But after a backlash on social-media sites, Fars replaced the story with a different version that did not include a reference to the country's nuclear program.

Quick-thinking bloggers, however, saved a screenshot of the original story.

The fabrication by Fars was in keeping with the pro-nuclear, anti-Western position of the Iranian establishment, which claims that its nuclear program is the most important issue for the Iranian people.

But Farhadi, for one, didn't use his brief moment in the global spotlight – an estimated 1.2 billion people watch the annual awards show on television -- to back that claim up.

And at a press conference after the awards ceremony, when he was asked about the tension between Iran and the United States, he again said that his work occupies a realm outside of politics.

“What you refer to is what is happening between the governments and I don’t have any message for the governments, because I believe that this film is communicating with the people," he said. "I don’t think that politicians are really into cinema [or] understand its message."

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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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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