June 27th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

"Punished mercilessly" – Is this Islam?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/24/iran.tolerance/art.ayatollah.afp.gi.jpg caption="Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."]

Octavia Nasr
Middle East Affairs Editor

“Annihilate the rioters,” demanded one of Iran’s fundamentalist clerics during Friday prayer. He believes that the opposition “defied the orders” of Iran’s Supreme Leader, who “rules by God’s design.” Therefore, “they should be punished mercilessly." Either way, his words couldn’t be harsher or more extreme. Some would say those words couldn’t be more un-Islamic.

The word Islam means “surrender.” The entire religion is based on surrendering one’s self, speech, action and thoughts to god. When moderate Muslims hear what this Mullah has called for, they wonder which brand of Islam he is advocating.

The first pillar in Islamic faith is the declaration called “Shahda” that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet.

The first verse of every chapter in the holy Muslim book, the Quran, goes like this, “In the name of God, most merciful, most compassionate.” Devout Muslims start many of their activities or speech with these glorious words.

Where is the compassion in the Iranian mullah’s speech? Where is the Mercy?

He’s directing his wrath at his own people; their only crime was to ask for an honest vote and to insist that their votes counted in a timely presidential election. They are the ones who shouted from their rooftops every night since their demonstrations began, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar” –God is Great. They are the ones who were denied their legal right to demonstrate so they had to defy the regime and take to the streets anyway.

They are the Iranian opposition movement, young people, mostly students, many women who were kicked and beaten in the streets; they were shot at, detained and even killed. They were called traitors and terrorists. Despite all that, they kept going out for more show offs with Iranian police and a brutal volunteer militia known as the Basij.

The Iranian regime imposed a crackdown on foreign media which made the story impossible to cover freely. The world ended up with two views of on what’s going on: The government perspective came through the state media, radio, TV, newspapers and websites. The opposition turned itself into a media outlet where everyone with a cell phone became a correspondent. They uploaded their images to video-sharing websites and interacted with the world through social media. They provided raw, unedited picture to the entire world.

Now one cleric vowing to “teach them a lesson” is a sign of more brutality and more bloodshed to come. The only difference is that when it happens, if it happens, it will be behind closed doors. We can’t count on Iranians who turned their cell phones into newsgathering machines and became the story and journalists telling it at the same time.

What tomorrow will bring them is a mystery that no one is there to witness or report on.

Filed under: Iran • Islam • Octavia Nasr
soundoff (256 Responses)
  1. Yasin

    At the same time US lead invasion of Iraq killed about a million in Iraq. Which religion does allows that?

    June 29, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  2. Kaveh

    "Where is the compassion in the Iranian mullah’s speech? Where is the Mercy?" you ask. There is none.

    Religion was flushed down the toilet by the power-elite in Iran long ago as were humanity and morals.

    The regime in Iran is about "control": An iron-fisted control with which the elite hang on to power, and with which they scarf up the national wealth (cf. recent articles on the frozen assets of Khamenei's son in the UK).

    There will be _no_ compassion, nor will there be mercy as Iran's long-suffering people demand their rights. In order for Khamenei and his ilk to cede their illegitimate power their fingers will have to pried off of it one by one.

    June 29, 2009 at 3:40 am |
  3. Brian

    As Mr. Fullerton and Mr. Blonski have pointed out- yes in fact this is Islam. I don't know how closely it matches whatever is written in the Koran, but it definitely matches Islam as it has played on the world stage.

    Conquest by force, forced conversion ("submission"), erasure of whatever culture its armies were able to overpower. The results are there for anyone to see on the world map- a swath of "Islamic" countries running west, south, and east from the source of the "Islamic" armies. Thankfully the Byzantines, and later Charlemagne were there to hold the line to the north.

    It is nice that we are all now being told that Islam is a "religion of peace." I suppose that is why my previous comment to this effect was not posted. I will be surprised if this one is posted, since we are all supposed to "play nice" by ignoring the history of this religion, which is one of violent conquest.

    June 29, 2009 at 2:41 am |
  4. Milton Smith

    I personally would like to see wack jackos doing hard labour for their crimes. Yah baby! Lock em up a don't let em go until they do their behavior adjustment home work. Mmmmm I don't know about all those so called high profile killers and attemted killers or assualters with deadly weapons I kicked and punched in the slammer but I;m watching Scarlett like the dreams I have that cooooomes true! my number is 7805325678 baby come get some. 11119-92 A St. Grande Prairie, Alberta Canada. T8V 3M4. I'm the stud half naked digging in the dirt and doing the lawn.

    June 29, 2009 at 2:11 am |
  5. Nick

    Correction to my previous comment, I meant to say that you will learn that people really are not that different from each other.

    June 28, 2009 at 11:07 pm |
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