1:34 PM, Jan 6, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
The ascension of Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani supposedly represented a “period of hope.” That may be true for Western negotiators hoping to spend more time in Geneva, but not for the Sufis and other religious minorities of Iran, whom the regime in Tehran continues to repress.
Sufis, let us first observe, are not the only victims of state reprisal in Rouhani’s Iran. Rouhani’s term began on August 3. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer who had been jailed in 2011, was let out of prison in September. She had been sentenced to 11 years’ incarceration – reduced on appeal to six years – plus a 20-year ban on practicing law, and a 20-year prohibition on foreign travel. Her release was advertised intensively and came just before Rouhani’s extravagantly-promoted visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Sotoudeh, whose clients included 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, was accused of “acting against national security, collusion and propaganda against the state, and membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center.”
On December 13, 2013, a delegation from the European Parliament met with Sotoudeh in Tehran to present her belatedly with the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The visit by the Europeans was condemned by hard-line Iranian clerics. Two weeks later, on December 27, Sotoudeh and her family returned from a funeral to their household and found it ransacked, with everything of value stolen.
Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, intimated that Islamic Republic official personnel were involved in the violation of the family’s privacy, commenting, “Everybody knows that … all kinds of different security and judicial organizations in this country have the power and the authority to be able to find the perpetrators in 48 hours. We will wait for them to announce the results of their actions,” Khandan said.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, which was financed originally by human rights activists in the Netherlands and is now headquartered in the U.S., compared the raid on Sotoudeh’s premises pointedly with earlier such episodes. They mentioned a 2009 descent on Shirin Ebadi’s house and office by 150 “demonstrators,” and a similar siege of the residence of former opposition presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi in 2010. In the aftermath of the Green protest movement against ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karroubi’s property was swarmed “by dozens of armed plainclothes [police]. The attacks took place over three days and resulted in graffiti, vandalism, broken windows, and shootings inside Karroubi’s home.” In both the Ebadi and Karroubi incidents, Iranian uniformed police failed to prevent the invasions.
While Nasrin Sotoudeh is not a Sufi, her imprisonment was publicized widely by the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights in Iran (IOPHRI), based in the Iranian émigré community in the West. While IOPHRI has taken the initiative in reporting on all atrocities committed by the dictatorship against dissidents, it is concerned particularly with persecution of the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi Sufis, a Shia Muslim body.
Iran and its culture are known worldwide as centers of Sufi mysticism. Yet because the Gonabadi disciples, who represent a leading element of Iranian Sufism, oppose the abuses of human rights and law committed by the Tehran establishment, they have been attacked savagely.
On December 23, the Paris office of Seyed Mostafa Azmayesh, the exiled leader of the Gonabadi Sufis and head of IOPHRI, was turned upside down, with the loss of personal research data storage media, in a fashion anticipating the incursion against Sotoudeh and her family.
Iranian officials may polish their manners when meeting with foreigners like Secretary of State John Kerry. Within their borders and abroad, however, when dealing with Iranian opponents, they are aggressively lawless.
10:46 AM, Dec 2, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Kuwaiti news outlet Al-Jarida reports that President Obama is seeking to arrange a trip to Tehran, Iran next year.
11:16 AM, Nov 24, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that "Syria welcomes Geneva agreement between Iran and P5+1 countries." SANA is an organ of the Syrian regime.
"An official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that Syria welcomes the agreement which was struck in Geneva between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1 countries," reads the report from the propaganda machine.
12:12 PM, Nov 18, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Views of the latest ad from the Emergency Committee are outpacing Obamacare signups. As of this writing, the ad, titled "Obama's March to War," has been viewed 114,312 times.
3:36 PM, Nov 11, 2013 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Over a century ago George Santayana wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
He might have had John Kerry and Wendy Sherman in mind.
After a week's worth of fighting in Syria, the Islamic resistance licks its wounds.3:16 PM, May 24, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
For over a week now, the Syrian town of Qusayr in Homs Province has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the two-year conflict. The struggle for Qusayr, says besieged President Bashar al-Assad, “is the main battle” in all of Syria.
5:34 PM, Apr 10, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, the husband and wife team of former U.S. officials (he was with the CIA and she was with the State Department) who’ve made a second career out of advocacy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, have just published a book. Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms With the Islamic Republic of Iran has been roundly panned by critics, most perplexingly for the Leveretts, even by reviewers in places like the New York Times that used to welcome them with open arms.
3:29 PM, Feb 27, 2013 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
On Thursday, February 21, at 10 a.m. local time, Iranian members of the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi Muslim contemplative order celebrated “the day of the Sufi” by protesting outside the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. The demonstration marked the fourth anniversary of a memorable challenge to the dictatorship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and “supreme leader” Ali Khamenei.
1:02 PM, Jan 28, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
On its website, the Iranian propaganda outlet Press TV has an article titled, "Journalism is dead and buried in West." The propaganda reads:
Over the past six weeks, we have had hundreds of new bloggers and “media pundits,” most anonymous, none with qualification, none with verifiable bios, almost all with childishly obvious agendas that carry clear signs of “handlers.” None, however, have attributable sources, real access to inside information.
8:55 AM, Dec 5, 2012 • By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL and EMANUELE OTTOLENGHI
Germany appeared over the past several months to have finally fallen in line behind European Union efforts to stiffen economic sanctions against Iran. But in late October a group of German parliamentarians dealt a blow to the campaign to isolate Iran’s rulers. Bundestag Members Bijan Djir-Sarai of the Free Democratic Party, Thomas Feist of the Christian Democrats and Angelika Graf of the Social Democratic Party traveled to Tehran for a five-day visit.
1:12 PM, Sep 24, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
A report today in an official outlet of the Iranian regime claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, will meet with members of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Ahmadinejad is currently in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly, where these reported meetings will take place.
10:39 AM, Apr 21, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
An alarming news report from Iran's Press TV, a propaganda arm of the Iranian government, showing American professors gathering in Tehran to discuss the Occupy Wall Street Movement:
The professors interviewed on Press TV include Alex Vitale of Brooklyn College, Heather Gautney of Fordham University, and John Hammond of City University of New York.
11:40 AM, Apr 20, 2012 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
As the United States and other members of the P5+1 commence negotiations with Iran, it is worth recalling the classic analysis of Iran’s negotiating style sent in from the U.S. embassy in Tehran on August 13, 1979. The author of the cable, political counselor Victor Tomseth, and the man who authorized it, charge d’affaires Bruce Laingen, became hostages when the embassy was seized on November 4, 1979.
4:25 PM, Nov 29, 2011 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
Curiouser and curiouser. Iranian “students” sack the British embassy in Tehran. The Quds Force contracts with a Mexican “Zeta” cartel hit man to assassinate the Saudi ambassador whilst dining in Washington. Computers in Iran’s nuclear complex are struck by a “Stuxnet” cyber-weapon. A “mysterious explosion” at a military base near Tehran kills the “architect” of Iran’s missile program.