Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Jailed Iranian Cleric Appeals to Pope
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
-- A senior Iranian cleric, jailed for opposing the Islamic regime in
Iran, has appealed to the Pope in a letter smuggled out of Iran by his
supporters and made available to NewsMax.
"Time is running out for me as I have
been sentenced to death," wrote Ayatollah Hossein Kazemini Borujerdi in
the letter, obtained this week from sources close to the jailed cleric
"This is my last plea for help."
In addition to the Pope, Borujerdi
addressed his appeal to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the
president of the European Parliament and to international human rights
organizations, asking them to intervene with the Iranian authorities to
prevent his execution.
Borujerdi was placed under house arrest in July 2006 after addressing a massive gathering of his followers inside Iran.
Last October, anti-riot troops
stormed his family compound, using water cannons to overpower
demonstrators who had gathered in his defense. He was then taken to
Section 209 of Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, which is reserved for
Since then, he has been beaten and
tortured repeatedly, supporters in Europe told NewsMax. He has been
denied the right to a lawyer or visitation rights.
The senior cleric fell afoul of the
authorities for refusing to acknowledge the role of Islam in politics,
and for speaking out against the doctrine of velayat-e faqih, absolute
In his letter, he called the Iranian regime "unlawful."
In a clear attack on Iran's ruling
clerics, he wrote, "People who use religion for their own benefits and
create their own rules are blasphemous and are destroying the people's
belief in their God."
Borujerdi belongs to the "quiestist" school of Shia Islam, which rejects the role of Islam in government.
Associates say he has received
support from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq, and from Grand
Ayatollah Sadegh Rouhani, who has been under house arrest in Qom, Iran
since 1986 for similarly rejecting the authority of the Islamic regime.
Iran's Shiite clergy remains divided
between a militant school, headed originally by Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, and the quiestists. Both groups supported the revolution
against the Shah in 1978-1979, but they parted ways when Khomeini
seized power and established a government ruled by unelected clerics.
Over the past 28 years, most senior
ayatollahs who opposed the regime have been confined to house arrest
and have seldom spoken in public.
Borujerdi is the first senior cleric
to be actually jailed since 1979, when Khomeini locked up rival
Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari.
Shariatmadari's son, Hassan, today
lives in Germany. Shortly after Borujerdi's arrest, he told the Persian
Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that many of Iran's top
clerics reject any role of religion in politics, but have lacked
Borujerdi's courage to attack the regime in public.
"Ayatollah Borujerdi has expressed
the demand for the separation of religion from politics very openly —
to a wide audience and with boldness," Hassan Shariatmadari said. "This
is something that the establishment doesn't like."
Borujerdi was condemned to death last
month by the Special Court for the Clergy during a closed hearing
without witnesses that lasted just several hours.
He was accused of speaking against
the Quran, making up a false god, speaking against the Iranian
government, holding illegal gatherings, and other crimes.
Supporters of the jailed cleric in
Europe told NewsMax that the allegations were "an excuse to cover up
what the regime wants to do to him."
His execution was originally
scheduled for June 25, but the regime put it off after protests from
U.S.-based human rights organizations.
In his letter, Borujerdi said he
wanted human rights organizations to visit Iran "to see for themselves
how people are being forced to live."
He asked that they be allowed to get
involved in the judicial proceedings against him "to hear for
themselves how I am being treated."
The jailed cleric said that he and
his family had been tortured since October 2006. "The torture in Evin
Prison was unbearable," he wrote. "I was under the regime's sharp
The Iranian authorities have stepped
up repression in recent months, cracking down on women demonstrators,
students, and visiting Iranian-American scholars.
On July 10, armed thugs abducted
well-known labor leader Mansoor Osanloo as he stepped off a bus in
Tehran, shouting to passersby that he was "an enemy of Islam."
In northern Iran, a man convicted of adultery was condemned to death by stoning, a particularly barbaric punishment.
Hassan Daioleslam, an independent
Iranian-American scholar, believes the regime is stepping up human
rights abuses as a negotiating tactic with the West, in hopes of
getting Western sanctions lifted.
"In a nutshell, the message we're
hearing from the regime's lobby is that the more the West pressures the
regime, the more violent it becomes," Daioleslam told NewsMax. "Hence,
lift the pressure" and the abuses will stop.
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