Rouhani Speech at the UN General Assembly v Reality Check

Imagine if Adolf Hitler went to the UN General Assembly and made a speech saying ‘The Third Reich does not conquer by using the bayonet but conquers the hearts and minds and exports the Nazi ideology through the poetry of Schiller, Brecht and Nietzsche”! The chances are the audience would fall off their chairs laughing and the media would have a field day with their sarcastic headlines, but somehow the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran can get away with it!

Addressing the 72nd UN General Assembly, Rouhani made a cunning speech that was soothing for the credulous but frustrating to the astute.

Rouhani said “Iran has experienced free and democratic governance for four decades” and referred to this governance as a “free and democratic” form of governance, yet inside Iran, this same system of governance is not ashamed to call itself  “Velayat Motlagheh Faghih” or the “Absolute Rule of the Jurisprudent”.  This unique system of governance which has had no historical precedence and is only applied in Iran was pushed by the Shia clerics who won the bloody power struggle after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

At first, the constitution called this form of governance as “The Rule of the Jurisprudent” Later the constitution was changed to include the word “Absolute” to make sure there is not a shadow of a doubt or ambiguity as to who rules Iran. This jurisprudent who has the absolute rule in Iran is called the Supreme Leader and to any sane person, this system of governance is not a “free democratic” governance but a dictatorship! The Islamic Republic; however ranks supreme in being able to manipulate the international public opinion and say one thing to the people of Iran and another to the rest of the gullible well-wishers around the world!

Rouhani then boasted that 41 Million Iranians had voted for him. Yes given the criteria that people were not to choose whoever they wanted but were given a choice of a frightening bogeyman and a more pleasant articulated one as the main candidates, what else could they do? But Would he have 41 Million votes if the Guardian Council did not pre-select the candidates they could vote for?

Rouhani then spoke about the aspiration of the Iranian people against dictatorship tracing back to 111 years ago in Iran’s Constitutional Revolution. The official narrative by the ruling clerics in Iran is that the Constitutional Revolution, which limited the absolute powers of the monarch and established a representative assembly known as the Majlis was a Western plot. The hero of the Islamic Republic during the constitutional revolution in 1906, is a Shia cleric called Sheikh Fazlollah

Noori. A despotic figure right from the dark ages, who was determined to stop any progress that could enlighten the public and shake the power of the Shia clerics over the masses in Iran.  Noori explicitly said an elected parliament was a danger to Islam and was later executed by the constitutionalists. In the Islamic Republic Noori is regarded as a martyr and for Ayatollah Khomeini, he was an example to follow.

Suddenly, however, the constitutional revolution of the 1906 that tried to separate religion and state is used by Rouhani in his speech to window dress the Islamic Republic as the continuation of that pursuit by the Iranian people for freedom and dignity, and the wide-eyed liberals fall for it. The 1979 Islamic revolution was not the continuation of the 1906 Constitutional Revolution, it was the termination and the reversal of it.

The next part of Rouhani’s speech promotes the Islamic Republic as the champion of the voiceless in their fight against tyranny. The “voiceless” for the Islamic Republic is a pragmatic selection to suit its political ambition. Thus the Muslims in Chechnya fighting the Russians or the persecuted Uighur Muslims of China do not appear in his list of the “voiceless”.

Rouhani then continues with his highly skilled window dressing. Export of Iran’s Islamic Revolution which is enshrined in its constitution and part of its official foreign policy gets a new spin in his speech:

“ Iran does not seek to impose its official religion on others or export its revolution through the force of arms. We are so confident in the depth of our culture, the truth of our faith and tenacity and longevity of our revolution that we will never seek to export any of them in the way neo-colonialists do, with the force of the bayonet”

Instead, Rouhani tells the UN General Assembly, the export of revolution is by “entering the hearts and minds and reciting our poetry and engage in discourse on our philosophy”.

Does anyone really believe the Qods Force recites the poetry of Rumi and Hafez for the Hezbollah, the Hashd Al-Sha’abi,  and the Houthis of Yemen etc. ? So there are no planeloads of weapons flying directly to Syria and they are simply loaded with Persian poetry books? All those Iranian opposition activists assassinated throughout the world were whacked by poetry books?!

It beggars belief how much balderdash can be thrown in just one speech and not only get away unchallenged but receive praise by the media correspondents too!

One part of Rouhani’s speech was true, however, “Iran has been the bastion of tolerance for various religions and ethnicities”. Yes by comparison and in the past this is true, but what does this have to do with the Islamic Republic? Iran’s Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian minorities have dwindled drastically since the 1979 revolution. Vast numbers have emigrated to escape the discrimination enshrined in the very constitution of the Islamic Republic. Did anyone wonder what “tolerance” Rouhani was talking about with regards to the Baha’i followers in Iran?

Even the dissident Shia clerics have not escaped the wrath of the Absolute Rule by the Jurisprudent. Since the execution of Sheikh Noori by the Constitutionalists, there were no other Shia clerics ever executed in Iran until 1979. More Shia clerics have been executed, tortured, imprisoned and put under house arrest since 1979 than ever before.

“We are the same people who rescued the Jews from Babylonian servitude,” Rouhani told the UN General Assembly. Actually, no you are not the same people. It was Cyrus the Great who rescued the Jews from slavery, the ruling clerics in Iran hate Cyrus and have even questioned his historical authenticity.

Finally, the question that continues to remain unanswered, how is it that Rouhani received a Ph.D. in law from the Glasgow Caledonian university but never speaks English? Who was it that facilitated his Ph.D.?

About the Author
Potkin Azarmehr left Iran after the so-called “Cultural Revolution” shortly after the Islamists took over. In 2005, unhappy about the unrealistic Western media reports on Iran, he started his own blog in English to cover the Iranian news which doesn't make it to the Western mass media. In February 2009, he won the "International Council for Press and Broadcasting Media Award" in the 'Cutting Edge New Media category.' Over the years, his blog became very influential and a reference source on the pro-democracy secular struggle in Iran. In 2010, during the peak of the post-election protests in Iran, the number of unique visitors accessing his blog went past 90,000 a year. He is currently a contributor to several newspapers and Television stations on Iran related news and also writes and produces a number of TV programs.
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