On April 16th 2007 I took part in a discussion about Iran Supreme Court Clearing Mass Murderers.  It was about a group of vigilantes who murdered their fellow citizens in Kerman simply on the suspicion of morally corrupt behaviors.  The report stated two victims were actually and legally engaged.  Whether these two victims where related to the same case or not was meticulously obfuscated.  In exploring the issue, I used the phrase Cowboy Mentality and it was nothing but improvisational.  I did not realize that back in my subconscious memory there was a historical background.


When I was a teenager, in our little town (Najafabad) we did not even have a movie theatre until later, but western cowboy movies were quite popular.  While going to movies was considered bad in most families, teenagers used to go to Esfahan (about 18 miles distance) to watch mostly American and Italian western movies.  I remember a kind of hooligan gangsters was formed, and called itself Apaches after the American Indian Tribe.  This group was soon known for a number of violent crimes.  Since I did not live in Najafabad for most of my teen years, my recollection is from my infrequent visits and to some degree vague.


I remember a couple of nationally known crimes committed by these gangsters in our little town.  I am not sure if either one of them was related to Apaches or not at all, but both of them were politically motivated.  The mayor of the city was the victim of the first crime.  They took him to the mountain, beat him and shaved his head to bare skin.  Years later, they murdered a lead clergy of Esfahan who was accused of cooperating with Shah’s secret service: SAVAK. 


While neither these heinous crimes nor Apaches enjoyed any popular support whatsoever, I do remember, quite vividly, people condemning them for un-Islamic behavior.  That was contrary to a sociopolitical and religious debate on the issue that took place amongst people.  In a nutshell the argument maintained that since the government was not a legitimate one, and did not abide by Islamic law, it was the religious duty of every Muslim to take the Islamic law in his own hand and punish those who committed adultery, blasphemy, etc.  So the reason for this paradox, I speculate, was the fact that these gangsters neither fitted as vigilantes nor represented the will of the people.


That was the link in my subconscious memory (even though I did not know it at the time) to the news about Iran’s Supreme Court acquitting vigilantes who murdered alleged morally corrupt citizens.  But that was not the whole news as BBC is notorious for turning anything against Iran in a provocative headline.  In fact, the case is not final as it is implied because a comparative use of “Supreme Court” in Iran and in the western world is misleading.


Yet it does not diminish the grave consequences of such judicial verdict.  Not only it is self defeating for IR itself because vigilantism is justified ONLY when the government is NOT legitimate or abide by Islamic codes, but also it is, in effect, a license to kill without any required professional training or religious, moral, social and judicial qualification on the part of the licensee.  In other words, everyone is licensed to prosecute, judge, and execute other citizens who are (only in his judgment) morally corrupt.  And if he makes a mistake as it allegedly happened in the above mentioned case, he would (ONLY) be financially responsible to pay for damages as if the sanctity of life is reduced to property damage.


I am tempted to say that is unbelievable, but I cannot.  Because we are not living in UTOPIA, and systems of justice in different parts of the world are different, but not necessarily better.  It is, in all fairness, different trade offs here and there for different mind frame of people.  For example, American system of justice is not only designed to serve the better off section of the society because it is financially impossible for average citizens to benefit from the system, but also it is heavily based on technicality NOT substance.  It is not unusual for a killer to get away with heinous crimes just because he was not read his rights when arrested!


The trick is, of course, on the monumental and glorious statue of exceptions!  While virtually thousands of criminal cases are either settled or executed on injustice basis, the mass media focuses on EXCEPTIONS like a high profile case to imply justice was served!  And politically motivated demagogues never stop using these exceptions to belittle others as less civilized if not barbarians.  


In the same perspective, while Iranians like every other nationality strive for a better and more equitable system of justice, the Zionist propaganda machine does not miss any opportunity to single out Iran for politicizing its internal affair in the most negative way possible.  And history is rather clear on colonial mandate to provoke people against their government ONLY to reward them with a more repressive regime!  It is irrelevant whether the regime in power is independent or a puppet.  It is the regime change that messes everything up in their favor to strengthen their imperialistic foothold.


That is why our intelligentsia is in such a strange dilemma.  We all must fight in two distinctly different fronts:


One is the regime itself.  While, in all honesty, it must be credited for a superb foreign policy against all odds that was fundamental to rising from the ashes of a devastating eight years long war to become a regional power and indeed numerous sociopolitical and economic achievements, it DOES misplace the trust of its people in the hands of fanatic religious leaders who are NOT abreast of times to uphold the spirit of religious standards in changing times instead of enforcing SELECTIVE and outdated codes of social conducts like dress code. 


I emphasize selective because it really is.  Otherwise, in comparative argument, there is a huge pile of evidence against air pollution, let alone tremendous casualties in traffic accidents.  Why not, then, enforce outdated means of transportation (animals) to replace automobile?  I can cite numerous religious codes of conduct in reference to animals, and not a single one to new means of transportation.  Furthermore, being abreast of times is THE constitutional requirement for a RELIGIOUS leader to become a POLITICAL leader in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran.  Are religious leaders who are also political leaders and enforce outdated codes of conduct abreast of times?


In reference to the subject matter, if vigilantism is okay, then why we need to waste our time, money and resources for the huge bureaucracy of legislation, law enforcement and judicial system?  Just let religious leaders publish their interpretation of Islamic codes.  Their followers can easily tell the difference between right and wrong or can get a religious opinion and vigilantes would be happy to enforce different interpretations of Islamic codes making a hell out of this anarchy towards Islamic UTOPIA.


The second front is the ever present existential threat against our country that is quite unique in comparison with any other country in the world.  Due to this unique status that is fortified by unbelievable hatred towards mullahs amongst Iranian expatriates who have legitimate grievances against former administrations, every single internal deficiency (that is comparable in different forms to internal affairs of other countries) receives huge coverage.  It is so ridiculously ubiquitous as if the Islamic Republic of Iran is not only responsible for anything and everything wrong, but also it is so devious that has nothing to do but to sit and devise different policies to INTENTIONALY harm its own people in a UNITED and concerted effort.  And the fact that all evidence points towards the lack of such UNITY is as irrelevant as Iran’s rights to a peaceful nuclear energy.  That is to be believed, even when they are in desperate need of the support of their people. 


So the Iranian intelligentsia is cornered to choose between being silent or let its criticism be taken out of the context and be blown out to astronomical proportion defaming our people, national heritage and pride in the name of a so called detested regime.  The predisposition to keep a distinctive distance from the regime is so strong; anyone can be easily labeled as an agent to be immediately discredited.  That is a vicious cycle Imperialism loves to maintain, and the Iranian intelligentsia has to break in order to be credible enough to broker a will for sociopolitical improvement.


While I am overwhelmed with so many extracurricular activities, I take part in different discussion groups because I believe that is one way to get a point crossed.  We are still at the very beginning of a new road.  We are far from being well equipped to take this journey, but we have to start from somewhere.  These discussion groups in so many different forms come and go.  People resent each other on minor or major issues or personal and professional differences of opinions, etc.  The very first remedy is to quit.  But it is not a cure and I sincerely ask everyone to avoid doing it. 


Please take advantage of this new medium to be heard and serve not only the real and legitimate interests of your own country, but also contribute to a broader issue of understanding each other for a benign coexistence of different people in this global village.  That is different.  It is not joining a club of like minded people to praise each other or enjoy meaningless hoopla like self centered approval.  In fact, in my humble opinion, carving down vigilantism from its executive power and using its spirit to vigorously debate law and order in terms of their applications is the ultimate duty of every citizen.


I have archived the discussion I mentioned at the beginning of this article.  I would love to make a link to it for reference if all five active participants approve it.  They are (in chronological order of participation):


1. Mansour Farahmand.

2. Mohamad Purqurian.

3. Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

4. Moji Agha

5. Massy Homayouni


So far, I have only 20% of the vote of approval!  I will update this article to provide the link if approved.  Therefore, if interested, come back later!



Mohamad Purqurian

April 24, 2007


P.S. Mr. Moji Agha respectfully declined to have his comments be published.  Ms. Massy Homayouni enthusiastically allowed me to share her comments.  I did not receive a response from either Mr. Mansour Farahmand or Ms. Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich.  While I can make a partial link, it will distort the discussion.  So, I am contemplating -- for maintaining the integrity of the discussion as well as honoring intellectual contribution of participants -- to present it in a different and anonymous format in another article.


April 29, 2007