Iran: Ahmadinejad's shrewd play

By Dr. Ali Safavi Friday, 27 January 2006
NCRI - As mentioned before on many occasions by personalities in the Iranian Resistance (Mr. Mohaddessin, Ayatollah Jalal Gangei, etc). Islamic fundamentalism emanating from Tehran is a school of thought set to dominate the entire world. It is not a purely religious phenomenon but rather a totalitarian political trend that has turned Islam into an instrument for consolidating "absolute power." It is an Oriental totalitarianism to be compared in some form although with distinct differences (mainly its strong religious overtone) with Occidental totalitarianisms such as Nazism.
Islamic fundamentalists believe that the only guarantee to fulfill their so-called Islamic mandate - such as regressive, cruel and inhuman social relations and in particular their well-known misogyny – is the acquisition of unchallenged political power. In their drive for such power they misuse the Muslim masses' religious sentiments quite skillfully as the Nazis misused the pent-up German desire to make-up for Germany's defeat in the First World War.
Ahmadinejad's avowed devotion to mahdaviat is a shrewd play on the Iranian people's desire for change and eventual liberation from tyranny and poverty by the coming of a Messiah. The Mahdi is in Shi'ism the symbol of salvation and liberation from injustice. Mahdaviat is an aberration of the religion encouraged by a certain circle of mullahs in Iran in particular to tap into the popular urge to believe in the Mahdi. Mahdaviat has no formal place in Islamic eschatology. The regime from Khomeini's rule to present has used Muslims' religious sentiments including the appeal of Mahdi to its utmost advantage. A very vivid example of this was the use of an Arab man on a white horse leading the charge of young Iranian village boys onto minefields in the Iran-Iraq war which was extensively used by the regime to drive its war effort. Although Mahdaviat is not a formal part of the religion, the Mahdi is a central theme to Shi'ism and is not unlike similar religious beliefs in other Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Judaism as you know.
Based on Islamic interpretation, government's domain should be purely in the secular domain. However, Ahmadinejad, not unlike his mentors, Khamenei and Khomeini, misuses religion in overt demagoguery. Over 150 million Shi'ites in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Pakistan and other countries espouse a devotion to the coming of Mahdi as an eventual end to all tyranny. It is Ahmadinejad's explicit aim to be identified with this popular sentiment. We should not grant him the favor.
Ahmadinejad's claims to be a devotee of Mahdi have as much credibility as do the regime's other claims that stoning, amputations, gender apartheid, etc. are Islamic and that "Islamic human rights" and "Islamic democracy" are precisely what is practices in Iran today, thereby denying the universality of basic and inalienable human rights and liberties. Ahmadinejad would love to say that he is a devotee of Mahdi, and the West opposes him exactly for that reason. It is therefore, not wise to give Ahmadinejad the exact title he desires.
The best way to avoid giving Ahmadinejad and the mullahs in Iran the mantle of mahdaviat or Islam, is to call them by their true name (demagogues seeking political domination of the Muslim masses to further their power and plunder their wealth) and to support their Muslim anti-thesis which is the PMOI in order to disarm the mullahs of their monopoly on the Islamic faith and its interpretation.
Under the mullahs there is no Islam and no democracy and both are misused to prop up a religious dictatorship.
Ali M. Safavi is president of Near East Policy Research Inc.

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