But first. Important Updates.
I was just on Fox News (of all places) with Shepard Smith (rumors are that he is "liberal"). I was reporting on what I have been reporting all along here and on DB.
Arash has sent a very powerful memo again today from Tehran-please read here on the Beast.
I spoke for an hour to Iranian journalist NS (starting at 9:36 pm Tehran time on Saturday night after she had returned home) who you all read yesterday. We chatted on Yahoo right through the Allahoakbars (went on for 40 minutes) as she told me how she was arrested and how her brother was beaten. She was the first to share the videos of the girl being shot and of the protests in Shiraz (but it took a while to get all the information up on the Daily Beast)
Please read and forward widely here and Comment-NS and others are reading your messages of support and it means a lot to them!.
New reports are that there is blood on the streets today-many are dead. European Embassies have opened their doors for the injured and someone even said that "acid was being poured from helicopters"
Clashes have spread to Tabriz, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Isfahan, Mashad. People are being killed. Some say 19 murdered today. may be more.
My report from Friday about Mohsen Kadivar is below-
YOU CAN WATCH MOHSEN KADIVAR'S KHUTBA (SERMON) ON YOUTUBE HERE
-NS told me on Friday that at 4 pm (Saturday) people will march from Enghaleb to Azadi Square.
-Another friend who was in tears says this:
"We are ready to die. We will go out and they can kill us".
-NS also adds (on Friday): "Some are angry that Mousavi did not say a word today about the Khutba. Some are even saying that they understand why the Ayatollah said what he did. Others are saying that he sounded shaky and not confident."
-(On Friday)There are many rumors on the streets of Tehran tonight and also some violence.
-Firoozeh Khatibi (on Friday), the journalist from the dissident Persian Radio Farda, was able to get a friend on the phone. Her friend whose taxi was stopped at a traffic intersection by "bearded men" ran for her life, after they attacked the taxi and damaged it. In her own neighborhood she saw the glass of grocery stores and even banks with ATM machines shattered. She wondered if they were making plans so that people would not have access to food or money. She felt traumatized by memories of 1979 when it had been very different. At that time all the shopkeepers in Tehrans grand bazaar had shut down and offered food and shelter to the millions on the streets.
Early yesterday morning I got on the phone and on email with The Daily Beast and The Wall Street Journal telling them that they must send reporters to the Friday sermon organized by New York Iranians outside the Iranian Mission to the UN.
I stressed the importance of the event, coming as it was, just seven hours after Ayatollah Khamenei's sermon (read warning) at Tehran University and it was being lead by one of Iran's most respected clerics, Ayatollah Mohsen Kadivar.
Kadivar is now a dissident and is living in exile teaching in Durham, North Carolina. He was jailed in 1999 at the notorious Evin prison for 18 months and has been getting scant attention in the US media. Kadivar was taught by the most learned cleric in Iran, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. He wrote a devastating and scholarly sound critic of the revolution's abiding principle -- Velayet-e-Faqih or Rule by the Clerics. His views were a direct threat to the very foundation of the republic as he argued that since the doctrine was written by clerics and not divinely ordained, it was flawed.
As CNN and even Bill O' Reilly and others continue to parade the likes of Shohreh Agdashloo to opine falsely about the situation, I was and am constantly aware of how critical the opinion of Kadivar is. I know that millions have great respect for him in Iran and take him very seriously. I was therefore glad that both the Beast and WSJ sent their reporters. The Beast already has its piece up and you can read it here. Also read the new powerful testimony from Arash here.
Interesting point -- Kadivar was in Tehrangeles (aka LA) last week and refused to talk to the aforementioned Radio Farda reporter stating that it was too dangerous for his views on the situation to be published in Iran. Clearly his handlers and circumstances now dictate otherwise.
Sitting with the clerically-clothed Imam in a black SUV, I managed to get a few questions in. I had deferentially allowed the WSJ and the Daily Beast to interview him earlier. To begin with I reminded him of the power of his sermon in which he said that those who were killing and using force (primarily the Basij) were going against Fiqh-e-Shia (Shia jurisprudence) and therefore the people could seek "retribution." The powerful Farsi word he used was "Mahdorr al-dam." He said he was "enormously pained." He also pointed out that Obama and the US should not interfere.
His words in the khutba were powerful because he was able to counter the religious arguments of the Ayatollah in Iran with his own sound and proven religious and theological logic. That is why yesterday was important. It was the day of Dueling Sermons.
What is your reaction to Khameneis "khutba"?
I said in my "khutba" today that you should resist without any violence, they should resist with peace and justice. We are in the just position. We are in the right position.
But you didn't answer my question. What is your reaction to the "khutba" (sermon)?
I expected this. I expected him to highlight the support of Ahmadinejad. It is our victory. Now everyone in Iran knows that the sheltered supreme leader is not for all Iranians. He is only for conservatives. I think that this is the result of this movement. He should be careful if he wants complete legitimacy. He should be just.
Do you think his position itself is somewhat in danger?
He has a lot of power... I don't think so. I have heard somethings but I don't have any documents.
Have you been in contact with Mousavi or his campaign?
In general yes. But I can't tell you specifics. I have been busy teaching. I wrote a declaration in favor of Mousavi and one against what is happening in Iran after the election.
Why are you not taking a more public face in America? You know all kinds of people are coming up. People who have not been there in 30 years, suddenly claiming to be Iran experts?
I need to go back to Iran. I need Iranian sensitivity. Iranian audience is more important for me compared to US audience. I do Persian interviews for Persian BBC -- it is so influential in Iran. There are what some 4 million Iranians here and they are not the best or real representatives of Iran. They are close to the kingdom -- if you know what I mean.
Yes the Shah.
So let me ask you-do you think the gloves have come off after the khutba today? Will there be violence tomorrow?
I pray they don't. Because many revolutionary guards-they are also Muslims and Iranians and my feeling is they are not ready to shoot the people. Maybe amongst the militias its not so easy. Keep in mind that the blood of one person in the Holy Quran is equal to the blood of all human beings. It will be a document of injustice on whoever will demand such a shooting.
Do you think this is another 1979, with different results?
It's a green movement. Its not a revolution. It is peaceful and it is democratic. It's a movement at the level of presidency, not about the Ayatollah. Enlarging it is not good. And I think it increased the capacity of democracy in Iran.
When will you go back?
I have to teach for another academic year. I will be go back. Insha'allah. Sure.
During the sermon many had chanted "takbeer" (the chant of Allah-o-Akbar) in affirmation for the Imams statements. There were only about a hundred people. An Iranian friend reminded me how divided the Iranians in the US are. Many chose to stay away because it was a "religious" event and they like to "parade their secular credentials." I was reminded of the Imam's words about how the US Iranians do not represent Iran. I wonder who really does?