Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Also Sprach Zarathustra. And What Say You, Khamenei?

Afshin Ellian is blogging today on the rich pre Islamic cultures and religions of Iran. This Wednesday marks an important day in the tradition of Zoroastrianism. But it's caught up in the crack down of the regime on dissenters.

Rather than translating the entire post, due to time constraints have chosen in part for the descriptive style.

Iran is the only Muslim country with a strong pre Islamic consciousness. For centuries people have been trying to keep the traditions alive, none to the pleasure of the Ayatollahs.

In the Middle Ages the Islamic authorities declared the people of Zarathustra dhimmis, on par with Jews and Christians. This saved their lives.

- Capture: Chehel Sotoun's Wall painting, that dates back to the Safavid era, depicts a Chaharshanbe Suri celebration - 

Festivities begin on the eve of the last Wednesday of the year: Chaharshanbe Suri. Bonfires are lit. Jumping the flames cleanses the soul. It is followed by the green celebrations, the feast of the resurrection of nature. Not death, matyrdom, not paradise, but life in the here and now is celebrated.

Last night millions of people in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kurdistan celebrated victory of light over darkness. The Ayatollahs have been trying for centuries to declare the festivities unislamic. This year Ayatollah Khamenei pronounced a fatwa, denouncing the celebrations as irrational perfidy.
"Irrational? Is Islamic prayer rational? Is chopping off hands in the 21st century rational? Is the adoration of a building in Mekka rational? Perfidy? Is the rape of protesters not perfidy? What is perfidy? Having sex with a nine year old girl, or the celebration of the eternal light?
Will Khamenei's fatwa be respected? Will there be no celebrations this year? What's quite rational are the security measures taken in Tehran. The leaders of the green movement, Mousavi and Karoubi have been calling for the celebrations to proceed as usual. As a matter of intimidation the Revolutionary Court convicted six protesters to death. To no avail."
It started after sunset. Violent confrontations between security forces and protesters have been reported in Tehran, Isfaham, Mashhad, Ardebiel, Rasht, Boroujerd and other cities. The green movement isn't against Islam, but against the tyranny of the Islamists. Most greens want a secular state.

Watch the videos in the original post.


Der Spiegel sits down with Neda Agha Soltan's fiance, the 38 year old journalist Caspian Makan, who fled the country and now lives in Canada.

Related dossiers

- "Ellian Blogs"
- "Persian Power Play"
- "Nuclear Proliferation"
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