June 13, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1184

Ayatollah Khomeini's Grandson: Grandfather's Revolution Devoured its Children, Strayed From Original Course

June 13, 2006
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 1184

In an interview with the Al-Arabiyya TV website ( ) on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the death of Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson Ayatollah Hussein Khomeini said that the current Iranian regime was "a dictatorship of clerics who control every aspect of life," and called for foreign intervention to topple the regime. [1]

In the interview, Ayatollah Hussein Khomeini argued that the "rule of the jurisprudent" was not based on Shi'ite religious principle, but developed for historical reasons having to do with persecution of clerics in pre-revolutionary Iran. He also says that in its current form, the revolution has "strayed from its original course" by abandoning the principles of freedom and democracy, and states that Iran will gain real power only when it re-embraces these principles, not through relying on bombs and weapons.

For the last three years, the Iranian regime has kept Ayatollah Hussein Khomeini under surveillance and has banned him from giving interviews to the Iranian media owing to his criticism of the regime. [2]

The following are highlights from the interview:

Strength Will Not Be Obtained Through Weapons, but Through Freedom and Democracy

Ayatollah Hussein Khomeini told Al-Arabiyya: "Iran will gain [real] power if freedom and democracy develop there. Strength will not be obtained through weapons and the bomb..."

Khomeini also objected to the principle of "[the rule of] the jurisprudent" [velayat-e faqih]. He added: "At the time of the [Islamic] revolution, establishing 'the rule of the jurisprudent' was not one of its main principles. Moreover - and I witnessed this [myself] - [the revolution] called for freedom and democracy. But this changed [in light of] the religious view that prevailed in the religious committees and seminaries.

"Within this religious view, there were two approaches. One, which rejected [the principle of] velayat-e faqih, was represented, for example, by [Ayatollah] Abu Al-Qassem Khoi, the supreme marja' [religious authority] at the time. The second approach advocated velayat-e faqih, [but this approach] was not based on a religious consideration, but stemmed from historical factors. It arose because the religious seminaries were oppressed for many years, especially [in the time of Shah] Reza Khan Pahlavi in Iran [1921-1941], who persecuted the clerics. In response, the clerics lay in wait [for an opportunity] to seize power. This approach was fostered by the many of the wearers of the turban, and I do not say 'religious scholars' so as not to [include] Khomeini [in this category]."

The Revolution Persecuted its Leaders

"My grandfather's revolution has devoured its children and has strayed from its course. I lived through the revolution, and it called for freedom and democracy - but it persecuted its leaders. For example [Ayatollah Mahmoud] Taleqani, who was frequently imprisoned in the days of the Shah, and after the revolution was harshly persecuted by [the regime] for denouncing violations of the law. He consequently [had to] go into hiding, while grieving and protesting. He protested against the establishment of the revolutionary committees that ruled in an arbitrary and disorganized [manner], and against the persecution of his family...

"The revolution rocked the foundations of society, which had [previously] been conservative and had rejected freedom. The revolution prepared society to accept democracy and freedom. Thanks to the revolution, all sectors of [the Iranian] society, from the educated class to the peasants and the women, are now able to accept [the notion of] freedom and have become politically aware."

Khomeini further said that his meeting with the son of the deposed Shah Reza Pahlavi was "an ordinary meeting with a man who shares my suffering. The [cause] of our suffering is one and the same, namely tyranny, though each of us has his own [political] orientation..."

Addressing the issue of the hijab (i.e. the veil), Khomeini said that if he came to power in Iran, he would first of all "pass a law which makes the wearing of the hijab an optional choice for Iranian women. The Iranian regime shackles women by forcing [them to wear] the hijab in its ugliest form - namely a black [veil], even though the [veil] may be colorful. Girls coming out of schools or out of the university [campuses look] depressingly somber. I am personally in favor of the hijab, but not like this. The hijab is a personal issue. If a woman wants, she may [wear it], and if she doesn't [want it], she may [refuse it]. Many female relatives of my grandfather Khomeini did not wear the hijab..."

Khomeini Calls for Foreign Military Intervention in Iran

The Al-Arabiyya website stated: "As for his call to American President George Bush to come and occupy Iran, Hussein Khomeini explained that 'freedom must come to Iran in any possible way, whether through internal or external developments. If you were a prisoner, what would you do? I want someone to break the prison [doors open]...'"

At the end of the interview, Hussein Khomeini remarked that he believes his father Mustafa to have been poisoned, though, to this day, it is not clear who was responsible. [3]

[1] Ayatollah Hussein Khomeini was born in Tehran in 1958. In 1965, he emigrated with his family to Iraq, where he studied in a religious seminary. After the Iraqi Ba'th revolution of 1968, he returned to Iran. He defines himself as a "liberal religious person."

[2], May 31, 2006.

[3] The Al-Arabiyya website writes that the death of Mustafa Khomeini was the main cause for the outbreak of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

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