Thursday, February 05, 2004

Link from Josh Marshall:
Sistani survives assassination attempt.

More on Sistani's importance to the region from Juan Cole.

Ali Nourizadeh of the Saudi newspaper ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports today that more than 400 Iranian writers and cultural figures, along with some members of parliament, have penned a letter to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf, requesting that he express his opinion on the "massacre of democracy and the transformation of parliamentary elections into a mere stage play."

They wrote, "We have followed with appreciation your courageous positions in calling for the holding of free, fair, and direct elections in Iraq, where the population did not have, until the fall of the Baath regime, the right to own a shortwave radio. That is, holding free elections that can escape foreign influence is a difficult matter if not an impossible one. Nevertheless, your excellency is insisting that the first and last word in the matter of choosing rulers and representatives belongs to the Iraqi people. How wonderful it would be if your excellency would express your opinion regarding the farce that some in your native land of Iran are attempting to impose on its people, who are wide awake, under the rubric of "elections." Najaf has always been a support for freedom lovers in Iran, for in the Constitutional Revolution [of 1905-1911], your righteous predecessors such as Mirza Na'ini, Akhund Khurasani, and Allamah Mazandarani, supported the devotees of liberty in Iran. Without their famous fatwa, the people would not have been able to bring down the tyrant Muhammad Ali Shah."

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