Khamenei: “Everyone supported the state”
The Ayatollah Khamenei gave a speech during Friday prayers in Iran about the election and its aftermath. Right now the front page of the online NYT has two headlines: “Khamenei Denies Manipulation of Vote” and “Ruling Cleric Warns Protesters.” Regarding the former, it might be more accurate to say he barely acknowledged the widespread suspicions of the election’s illegitimacy. The latter is a more accurate characterization of the address, and a chilling look at what “religious democracy” means in action.
Andrew Sullivan has dedicated his blog to events in Iran since the election, and he has excerpts from the speech here. He also links to the Guardian‘s coverage, which in turn links to English translation of Khamenei’s speech — disseminated via Twitter. Better translations are forthcoming — more fluid, and perhaps more faithful — and if you find one, please link to it in the comments. But for me, the Twitter version has a kind of grim immediacy — especially formatted verse-style — and it seems appropriate to look to it, given how the story of the protests has taken shape so far.
Khamenei’s major theme was asserting the power and strength of the democratic system in Iran. The important thing, he wants his hearers to believe, is that they had an election at all; the turnout and the results prove how much faith people have in the current leadership. And this is as God wills: “The race has ended… whoever has voted for these candidates will receive divine reward. [The candidates] all belong to the state… [The people] have gotten closer to God by voting.”
Since everyone obviously believes in the system so much, Khamenei argues, how could it be legitimate to question the outcome of the election? Only an enemy of Iran would do such a thing.
The elections of June 12 was a fulfillment of the nation’s responsibility / It was a proof of participation of the people that was a show of the love towards their system / It is similar but better than the democracies in other countries / BUT / Those countries don’t have a democracy as good as ours.
The enemies are trying through their media – which is controlled by dirty Zionists. / The Zionist, American and British radio are all trying to say that there was a competition between those who support and those who didn’t support the state / Everyone supported the state[.]
Case closed, right? Apparently not — which, for the Ayatollah, proves there’s a limit to how much good the democratic process can do.
the debates were even extended to the streets and homes /So this added to the power of choice of the people /Such debates will strengthen the minds / to Help make better choices / BUT / They shouldn’t get to a point where they lead to major differences / Otherwise adverse effects follow
…accusing the government of corruption because of Zionist reports is not the right thing / questioning the credibility of the government is not corrects [sic] either.
In the end, the Ayatollah basically ignored the protesters’ complaints, evidently hoping that his authority would make the problem go away:
elections are held so that any difference should be settled at the ballot box / it should become clear there / what people want and what they don’t want / not on the streets / if after every election those who haven’t gotten votes start to have stre[e]t camps and invite their followers to come to the streets, / And the winners’ followers take their followers to the streets, / Then why did we hold elections to begin with?
It’s not exactly a convincing argument — but the threats of violent retribution, alas, are. The Daily Dish has been posting photos and videos all week that testify to that.
And what about those who are insisting that America must intervene — that President Obama must speak forcefully in support of the protesters? It looks to me like the Ayatollah would appreciate that very much. Here’s how he wraps up his address:
[W]hat is the worst thing to me in all this / are comments made in the name of human rights / and freedom and liberty / made by American officials / they said that we are worried about Iranian nations / WHAT? Are you serious? / Do you KNOW what human rights are?! / Who did that in Afghanistan? / The wars and bloodshed / Who is crushing Iraq under its soldier’s boots? / in Palestine? / Who supported the Zionists?/ [E]ven inside America / During the time of the democrats / Time of Clinton / 80 people were burned alive in Waco? / Now you are talking about human rights? / Well, / I believe that the officials of America and EU should feel some embarrassment / shouldn’t say anything like that[.]
Islamic republic supports oppressed people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine / we support all those who are oppressed / we are supporting the flag of human rights / flag of humans is raised in this country by Islam / we don’t need advice about human rights / My speech about the election is over.
(Waco? Really?) The Ayatollah may be done speaking, but I don’t think the problem is going away anytime soon. God help those protesters.