Erfan Fard

Cleric Hurdle: Iran’s Democracy and Growth Blocked

Billboard featuring Ali Khamenei torched, Nov. 14, 2022 / Picture in Social media. Free for all platforms.

The Predicament of the Zealous Cleric is A Principal Barrier to Intellectual Advancement and Democratic Principles in Iran

For over half a millennium, since the tumultuous reign of the Safavid dynasty known for its despotism and bloodshed, the mullah or cleric has entrenched itself within the corridors of power. This figure has consistently demonstrated an insatiable appetite for visibility, authority, domination, and acclaim. Exceptions to this pervasive influence were notably during the leaderships of Nader Shah Afshar and Reza Shah Pahlavi, under whom the cleric’s pervasive and malevolent religious network was compelled into obscurity.

A particularly sinister fabrication is the myth of the Imam Mahdi, propagated with the claim that a 200-year period of Imamate remains uncompleted and that this fictional figure is alive, destined to emerge and engulf the world in bloodshed. The rationale behind the necessity for a deity to arm an uneducated individual with a sword, or the logic of concealing such a figure for a millennium while providing for his sustenance, remains confoundingly elusive.

Iran Protest / PIcture of Social Media , Free for all platforms.

Such queries were once raised by Ahmad Kasravi, only for him to be assassinated by proponents of Khomeini (specifically, the Fada’iyan-e Islam, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood) on March 11, 1946. In a subsequent development, Khomeini‘s 1969 publication, “Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist,” signaled an intention for the cleric to position itself as the divine and Islamic representative, embodying the spurious Mahdi, with a resolve to perpetuate its hold on governance indefinitely.

The establishment of the Islamic Republic in March 1979, under the guise of a referendum where an implausible 98.2% approval rate for Khomeini’s governance was claimed, marked the consolidation of this theocracy, which he and his cohort audaciously dubbed the governance of Allah on Earth.

From that point forward, the cleric has doggedly maintained its grip on power, effectively inaugurating a Shia Islamic Caliphate that mirrors the historically notorious Islamic caliphates characterized by rampant crime and corruption. Following Khomeini, Khamenei ascended to power without electoral consent, systematically sidelining or corrupting any potential challengers. Today, Khamenei, at the age of 84, has steered Iran towards absolute devastation. The existing regime, mirroring a theocratic caliphate, is veering towards increased isolation and a deadlock in political openness, effectively leaving the Islamic Republic’s carcass in public view, albeit under the strict surveillance of a security and military syndicate.

The populace, subjected to humiliation, suppression, depression, anger, disdain, and confusion, yearns for liberation from the tyrannical clutches of the zealot cleric spanning both conservative and reformist spectrums. Iran has thus been thrust into a vortex of terror. The current generation has come to the stark realization that the government is disinterested in the nation’s developmental and progressive aspirations, eyeing instead the anointment of a third caliph, likely to be Khamenei’s progeny. Nonetheless, it is anticipated that upon the announcement of his demise, the nation, currently ensnared in sorrow and turmoil, will erupt into a spontaneous outpouring of jubilation and celebration.

Yet, the clerics in Iran display an apparent indifference to the judgment of history. The Islamic governance has, rather than fostering a grand civilization, plunged the nation into a state of profound terror. The clerical regime has bestowed upon its citizens nothing but misery, malevolence, poverty, and injustice. In their quest for redress, the Iranian people have consistently adopted peaceful and civilized forms of protest. However, the response from the clerical regime has invariably been one of brute force and barbarism, drenching the streets in blood and sorrow, perpetuating this battle against the merchants of religion.

An instance of this oppressive reality involved a distressed mother in Qom, cradling her ailing child and seeking refuge beside a clinic wall in the hopes of securing medical attention. A cleric, intrusively and without consent, began filming them. The mother’s protest was met with the cleric discarding his garb and fleeing, an act emblematic of the regime’s broader approach to governance.

Despite the intervention of others in the clinic and the woman’s repeated protests, the cleric refuses to delete her photo, attacks another woman, and scuffles with the protesting woman. After the altercation with the cleric, the protesting woman suffers a nervous breakdown and is moved to another room by the clinic staff. His name is Mohammad Esmaeili, a Quran reciter. Now, in the prospect of democracy in Iran, can one live peacefully with such a toxic mindset? Is it possible to discuss ballet dancing and music in the presence of such mullahs? Never!

Today, the state’s directive is to harshly penalize the mother while pursuing the apprehension of the individual who captured this encounter on film. This incident serves as a poignant illustration to the global community of the cleric’s disruptive influence on human dignity, cultural advancement, democratic principles, peace, and stability in Iran and across the globe, a malaise that persists unabated until such a time as this scourge is definitively eradicated.

Mullahs are the sedimented toxins within Iranian society and the disruptors of peaceful living in Iran.

Iran Protests / Picture of social media – Free for all platforms.
About the Author
Erfan Fard is a counter-terrorism analyst and Middle East Studies researcher based in Washington, DC. He is in Middle Eastern regional security affairs with a particular focus on Iran, Counter terrorism, IRGC, MOIS and Ethnic conflicts in MENA. \He graduated in International Security Studies (London M. University, UK), and in International Relations (CSU-LA), and is fluent in Persian, Kurdish, Arabic and English. Follow him in this twitter account @EQFARD
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