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Iran: Cleric's Protest Walk Ends in Jail

An Iranian cleric named Ali Reza Jahanshahi was arrested about two weeks ago, shortly after beginning a 960 kilometer (590 miles) protest walk from the southern Iranian city, Sirjan to Tehran. The cleric was protesting corrupt land appropriation in Sirjan, and complained the government was not doing enough to stop it. Jahnashahi was arrested after walking about 30 kilometers near the city Abadeh.


Jahnashahi depicted above, along with an Islamic Hadith quote saying is it is the responsibility of clerics to defend the oppressed.

Several conservative Iranian and pro-Islamic Republic bloggers have declared their support for his protest, and have called on authorities to release him. Many other Islamic students and clerics have also demonstrated for his freedom. Many of these bloggers and students are members of the Association of Justice Seekers’ Students, a conservative and Islamist group that has criticized the Iranian authorities for their lack of action against corruption.

Meanwhile, the news of the cleric's detention has scarcely been covered by secular or reformist bloggers. It helps demonstrate how polarized the Iranian blogosphere is.

Blogger Mostazafin (means ‘oppressed’ in Persian), who has followed the news of Jahnashahi protest closely, has published [Fa] several photos of the cleric, and says that 18 university student magazines published a declaration to defend his revolutionary protest walk.

He quotes from the declaration:

“In Sirjan we witnessed how power circles and capitalists illegally took control of many properties that belong to the Iranian people… People who acted against Islamic Republic law and Islam.”

Mostazifin says of Jahnashahi's campaign:

“For two years he tried to attract the Iranian authorities’ attention to enormous financial corruption, but nobody paid any attention… What happened in Sirjan is just an example of what is going on across Iran.”

Markazinews writes that six security agents arrested Jahanshahi while he was in a mosque and forced him into a car. Reportedly, he was arrested because his actions are against the statute of clerics.

Markazinews has quoted from a statement of the Justice Seekers’ Students, that recalls that the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the former Leader of Islamic Republic of Iran, said clerics should not forget the poor and barefooted people… The statement says they will not tolerate the authorities’ shortcomings, and will strive to accomplish their revolutionary duties.

Bignaehstiz has published a badge to support the cleric that reads, “In the fight against the corrupt of Sirjan, we are with Jahanshahi.” The blogger adds that some students and clerics supported his action and walked with him part of the way to protest against corruption.

Kashmar criticized the Special Cleric Court that ordered the arrest and detention of Jahanshahi, and asks why they do not act against the corrupt clerics instead.

The Muslim Bloggers Association also published a badge that says corrupt clerics should be arrested instead of the protesting cleric from Sirjani.

12 comments

  • Tal

    Dear Hamid,

    From your post, I could not understand why the government arrested Jahnashahi. Can you please explain a little bit more?

    Best,
    Tal

  • Dear Tal,

    As one of bloggers reported and I mentioned it “reportedly, he was arrested because his actions are against the statute of clerics.” In reality he says authorities do not do anything to stop corruption or in other words, they have given green light to corrupt people. In Iran you can be arrested for less than this. A writer was arrested because of one of his book’s character was judged immoral!Please feel free to ask more questions.

  • Tal

    Dear Hamid,

    Thanks for you explanation.

    You had encouraged more questions, so I’ll use your kind invitation.

    You had mentioned that “Many of these bloggers and students are members of the Association of Justice Seekers’ Students, a conservative and Islamist group”

    Why do Islamist are against corruption? And why scholars are pro-government, and not against corruption?
    If Iran is dominated by a Muslim elite, why this elite do not help this anti-corruption movement?

    Puzzled and interested,
    Tal

  • Thanks for your interest: 1-There are some Islamists who are against corruption and say it with loud voice.Here is another piece http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/06/09/iran-judicial-investigator-publically-accuses-ayatollahs-of-corruption/
    Showing that many high ranked clerics are accused of corruption.
    2-I did not understand what u meant by scholars.
    3-Well some of these ruling elites are accused of making millions of dollars due to illegal activity and corruption.

    I am waiting for more questions.

  • Tal

    Thanks Hamid for very interesting and inspiring information.

    I am a member in a Direct Democracy movement, and this situation, that you describe, is a very intersting.

    I know that Islam talks about Justice and teaches people the ways of justice, and also I know that Iran is one of the heads, if not the main leader of Islamic revolution.

    Yet, it seems that, because of internal problems of the Iraninan democracy, what we get is Islamist leaders with a lot of power. And we know that power corrupt even the most observant people. Therefore, even in Iran, the most observant people, which is the Council of Guardians, can become corrupted.

    Do you agree with the above?
    secondly, do you think Islamic state like Iran can be more democratic? Can Islam live together with democracy?

    All the best,
    Tal

  • 1-I think all political system can become corrupted when there is no check and balance system. it is nothing to have with religion.

    2-Turkey is a good example that democratic reforms can be done in a society where more than 90 percent are Muslims. Indonesia too!

  • Tal

    Thanks Hamid :-)

  • Tal

    P.S.

    Good luck with you struggle, and may Allah be with you and the counter corruption movements.

  • […] של ג’הנשהי שניסה לצעוד לטהרן במחאה על השחיתות בממשל האיראני. […]

  • […] raharaha sasany rehefa sendran'izay tsy malaza ilay olona. Tamin'ny volana Jolay dia nosamborina ny mpitondra fivavahana iray antsoina hoe Ali Reza Jahanshahi rehefa avy nanao […]

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