Monday, December 21, 2009

The Age of Postcharisma ...

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with my sister, following a beautiful obituary I found in one of the best Persian blogs around: Seebestan.

Last night my sister and I watched a little informal interview of Emad-E'Din Baghi (A human right activist and journalist in Iran) with Ayatollah Montazeri. Persian BBC broadcast the interview. We had grown up with the cartoonish image of Montazeri az "Gorbeh Nareh"--the character of a little clumsy cat, who tagged along a mean and scheming fox, in a Japanese adaptation of the Pinoccio story. We had grown up making fun of Montazeri's Najafabadi accent. Perhaps this is why when he was dismissed from being the deputy leader on the charges of "naivitee and ignorance" we weren't shocked. When we grew up, we managed to forgive him for being a mullah, as he had paid his dues to history by standing up to a regime that he had played an essential role in establishing. (Mullahs has disrupted our happy childhood, had caused our parents hardship, had stolen our future.) But, we still didn't take him seriously enough; he was there, saying things so blunt, so simple, so direct, that we could not interpret in any other way than calling "gullible naivitee" ... the IRI was clever in "containing" Montazeri; they had trained us to laugh Montazeri's statements off ...

In his BBC interview, down to earth, simple yet acutely sharp and clever, he made us laugh again, bitter sweet this time ... he even knew we made fun of him as Gorbeh Nareh (male cat); he didn't care. He didn't care about title, power, or being taken seriously by the institutes of power ... he meant to be taken seriously only before his duty to God, to Islam and to nation--none of which were to be tyrannical.

His Islam was not blood thirsty; was not suffering grandiosity complexes; he was not megalomanic or nationalistic; he was not fanatic. Simply put, he was NOT charismatic.

منتظری بی کاریزما بود. در دوره ای که همه از چپ و راست در کاریزما می دمیدند. شخصیت بودن کاریزما می خواست. طالقانی و شریعتی و خمینی کاریزما داشتند. چنانکه گلسرخی و شهدای مجاهدین و فدایی. عصر عصر کاریزما بود. منتظری از عصری مابعد کاریزما آمده بود. او نماینده حال ما نبود. نماینده آینده ما بود. آینده ای که سی سال بعد به آن رسیدیم. و او رهبر معنوی جنبش ما شد
Montazeri was charismaless, in an age that the left and the right exaggerated charisma. To become a persona demanded charisma. Taleghani, Shariai and Khomeini had charisma, just as Golsorkhi and the martyrs of Mojahedin and Fadayees. Our age was age of charisma. Montazeri had come from the post-charisma age. He was not representative of our present. He was representative of our future. A future which we reached 30 years later. And then he became the spiritual leader of our movement.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, which Montazeri founded in the dream of establishing a system of justice and fairness, where people go to jail for "insulting" the head of judiciary--insult being a criticism of his political posturing that violates his oath of impartiality; where images of a tearing a dead person's photo lead to an uproar of security and judiciary dogs; one of the highest priests of the Shiite establishment dies in absolute media silence; and after his burial, thugs attack his home, tear his pictures, and fill up the mosque with Basijis to force his family to cancel the reception.

When he was alive, Ayatollah Montazeri had said: "These house arrests and pressures are nothing, even if they erect a gallows in front of my door, will I not be deterred from speaking justice."

Let the turkey of Velayate Faghih gobble gobble. We shall have a festive a thanksgiving.


Unknown said...

i promised to shut up, but your post reminded me of this message a friend left on facebook

montazeri showed that you don't need eloquence to tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

"The highest overall levels of restrictions are found in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, where both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices. But government policies and social hostilities do not always move in tandem."

Global Restrictions on Religion
A study carried out by Washington-based Pew Research Centre, the highly respected US thinktank

American man said...

I was wondering what your thouts might be on this article in newsweek. It seemed to me to hit the nail on the head. courious to here what you think.

American man said...

Sorry, the link was wrong. it should be just

American man said...


My fingers have been found guilty of serious crimes of misspelling.

They have been sentenced to 30 days of reindoctrination. ;)

jmsjoin said...

Montazeri was their spiritual guide, as you are seeing this will now go to the next level.