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Ayatollahs Celebrate 35 Years of Terror

by Majid Rafizadeh


…After overthrowing the secular and pro-Western state, the Ayatollahs instituted a new social order based primarily on Islamist thoughts, Shari’a law, and Shiite ideals like the introduction of Jurisprudent Leadership (Vilayat-e Faqih) and giving divine power to the Supreme Leader (Vali)—whose legitimacy lies in his piety and his supposedly unmatched knowledge of Islam.

Article 57 was added to the constitution to emphasize this shift: “The powers of government in the Islamic Republic are vested in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive powers, functioning under the supervision of the absolute religious leader and the Leadership of the Ummah, in accordance with the forthcoming articles of this Constitution…”

This gave the Supreme leader the absolute power to veto, enact, or suspend any law that was deemed to be un-Islamic based on his interpretations. All articles of the constitutions became subject to approval of Islamic laws. This created an artificial façade of democracy. For example, while the constitution gives rights to writers, journalists, and bloggers to write freely, everything should still comply with Islamic and Shiite laws.

To be precise, the arrest, torture and execution of writers were legitimized by the ruling leaders and clerics because of the enforcement of Article 24 which states, “Publications and the press have freedom of expression, except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public. The details of this exception will be specified by law.”

In other words, every article in the constitution became subject to Article 4: “All civil, penal financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria.  This principle applies absolutely and generally to all articles of the Constitution as well as to all other laws and regulations, and the wise persons of the Guardian Council are judges in this matter.” This law gave the ruling Ayatollah and Iranian leaders the sovereign power and institutional mechanisms to implement and ensure compliance with Islam, as defined by the ruling clerics.

Is the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran getting weaker?

The answer is mixed. Regarding regional and international realms, the Islamic Republic has definitely become a much more centralized state compared to its 1979 condition. The nation is also on the verge of becoming a nuclear power and nuclear-armed state.  The Islamic Republic has also grown to be more self-sufficient in some industries, particularly in military capabilities, including multiple ballistic and cruise missile systems— such as Shahab-3, the Shahab-3D— investment in nuclear technologies, missile-equipped drones with a range of 2,000 kilometers like the Fotros drone (copying the US drone captured by Iranian forces), automobiles such as Sepehr, and air-to-air missiles such as Fatter (a copy of U.S. AIM-9 Sidewinder). This partial self-sufficiency has mostly concentrated on military programs since the 1980s, as also seen in the frequent announcements by Iranian leaders on various technological breakthroughs including the building of jet fighters, submarines, tanks, and torpedoes.

When it comes to domestic policies, the Iranian government has definitely become more masterful in cracking down, suppressing, and implementing the discriminatory laws against religious minorities, segregating the society based on gender, executing dissidents, imposing dress code, stifling the potential of both society and economic opportunity.  But this has also created a large section of the society (primarily the youth population under 30 years of age who comprise approximately more than 50% of the Iranian population) to become disaffected and disenchanted with the Islamic regime. Finally, if there is going to be any real threat to the Ayatollahs and Iranian leaders, it will most likely be from this young section of the population, rather than any action from external forces.


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