Challenge or Compromise?

Well this was a brilliant sermon (khutba) by Rafsanjani. While many will probably be disappointed because he did not push aggressively against the state discourse, his political strategy served the opposition in every way.

I feel this way for two reasons:

1. Not once did he make a reconciliatory comment towards the hardline opinion regarding this (s)election. He essentially laid out the opposition platform by calling for the release of prisoners; demanding respect for grievances towards the election, especially criticizing the Guardian Council’s handling of the aftermath; condemning media bias and requesting more media transparency within the law; and requiring adherence to the law (ie. the constitution, the Imam’s legacy to the people). This is the reformist platform!

While he does call for unity, none of these items are appeasing the hardline ideology or penitent to the supreme leader (rahbar).

He did not legitimize the election. Some would say, “Of course he didn’t, this is Rafsanjani, and his base is there watching, he can’t just do that”, but still he did not. Everybody else during each Friday prayer since the election has, yet Rafsanjani, chief of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts (thus a top state bureaucrat) did not even come close to it.


2. He was latent in his disregard for Khamenei’s (and Ahmadinejad’s) legitimacy. He never praised the leader as he usually does. He mentioned Khamenei once when saying something like ‘our respected leader asked the Guardian Council to review the election and they squandered their chance’. This is a reference to the position of the rahbar, but certainly not support for Khamenei, such that he usually gives.

Go back and read Rafsanjani’s typical khutba and you will see his consistent referencing to the rahbar.

Also his lectures on al-salif al-salahi (‘pious ancestors’) were very telling. When he spoke of the Prophet’s emphasis on the peoples’ support he is directly connecting illegitimate rule with taghut.

Rafsanjani then says:

“The Imam [Khomeini] would always quote the Prophet who would say to ‘Ali [the first Shi’ite Imam]: leave the people if they do not want you.”

While this is veiled, to me it seems to call into question Khamenei’s legitimacy today. While ‘Ali did this for the stability of the ‘ummah, he never once relinquished his legitimacy to be the Prophet’s successor. In fact this is how the shi`at `Ali (partisans of ‘Ali, or Shi`iah) began.

Therefore, when Rafsanjani makes this mention he does not delegitimize the fact that the position of the rahbar is rightfully as the Amir al-Mu’minin (commander of the faithful), but that his legitimacy is based on support by the people.

And, whether right or wrong, “social fact” has it that the election that Khamenei fully backs were rigged and therefore do not have the support of even a small majority of the people.

Using Aristotelian syllogisms, so famously used within Shi`i theological discourse, the election was illegitimate and unaccepted by the people; Khamenei legitimized the elections; therefore Khamenei is illegitimate. If the two premises are granted the conclusion is tightly secure. Of course within an advanced logic class in the hawza much more highly developed theories of rhetorical technique are debated, but you get the point, the connection is made.

Therefore I do not think that even though Rafsanjani mentions that the election is behind us, that he is pushing the meat of the issues aside. He is challenging the new elite and the direction they want to take the revolution, and I still don’t see signs of real compromise on the reformist part, neither do I expect it.


~ by The Common Man on July 17, 2009.

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