Saturday, July 14, 2012

Religious Persecution: An exercise in insanity

Religious Persecution of Father in Iran Over Son's Facebook Posts in Holland: CNN's Brian Todd reports that the father of a young Iranian student in Holland has been imprisoned in Iran on the charge of supporting anti-Islamic activities, because the student dared to post some jokes and vids poking fun at a 9th century Shia Imam.

It's one of those things that make no sense to sane, rational folks anywhere - and yet, such outrage is perpetrated with impunity by religious fundamentalist regimes with no regard whatsoever for freedom of speech and expression, such as the one currently running Iran.

Think about that for a moment.
  • The student, Yashar Khameneh, resides and studies in Holland.
  • YK reads a page in Facebook administered by someone else, likes it and posts jokes and irreverent videos in it against a 9th century Imam.
  • 9th century!!!
  • YK's father, Abbas Khameneh, who lives in Iran, is arrested and imprisoned by Iranian authorities.
  • Charge against AK is that he engaged in anti-Islamic activities... Why? Because he was paying for his son's studies in Holland! Mr. Khameneh may even be executed under this charge.
Can you imagine how fucked up that is? For a religion that proclaims its revulsion for idolatry, this level of extreme reverence for a 9th century religious figure - a reverence that brooks no criticism or jest - sure smacks of idolatry of a slightly different kind.

Here is the video news presentation embedded from CNN: (For folks who cannot see the video for some reason, I have transcribed the report below as best as I could.)
(Voice over) It's a strange looking cartoon on a facebook page, Charles Manson's face superimposed over what's believed to be an image of a cherished 9th century Shi'a imam. He is flanked by a camel wearing sunglasses and the donkey from Shrek. This satiricial facebook page has become popular amongst young Iranians.

Yashar Khameneh, a 25 year old college student in Holland, joined that page about a year ago, started posting jokes and irreverant video clips.

YK (via video chat): Almost everybody that is involved in that movement believes that everything will be subject of a joke, and nothing and nobody is too holy.

(Voice over) But in May, Khameneh got frantic calls from his family in Iran. His father, Abbas Khameneh, had been targeted for the alleged sins of his son, arrested and taken to Evin prison, notorious in Iran for torturing prisoners.
(Note: Read a collection of CNN's reports on this infamous prison here)

YK (via video chat): A few days after arresting my father, I received a call from my mother. She was very frightened and said that if you don't close that Facebook page, they will execute your father.

(Voice over) Khameneh messaged the manager of the Facebook page, asking for the page to be taken down; the manager refused. Khameneh says, iranian officials have accused his father of supporting anti-religious activities by paying for his son's studies.

BT: What could the iranian regime have seized on here? I am with Ali Reza Nader. He is an analyst for the Rand corporation, he reads and speaks fluent Farsi. Ali Reza, what are the phrases on here that would have angered the regime?

ARN: Well it says campaign (- points to Arabic script on screen - speaks in Farsi...) and specifically this word, Qorafat, which means superstition in Farsi. So, this website is basically making fun of the Imam, a holy figure within the religion, and saying that the beliefs in him are superstition.

(Voice over) Considered sacrilegious by an Iranian government who, Nader says, has really brought its fist down on social media since the 2009 Green Revolution.

BT: Given the technological sophistication of this regime, did you not think beforehand that they would pick up what you were doing on Facebook, figure out who was doing it and then possibly target your family?

YK (via video chat): Well, I never thought they are going to target my family. I always thought that, okay, if I am doing something that is not acceptable by the regime, I accept the consequence of my own activity.

BT: Yashar Khameneh says he still doesn't know the condition of his father, only that his father is "not free". Yashar has also stopped contacting his mother and sister directly. CNN's efforts to get information on his father's arrest and condition from Iranian officials in Teheran and at the UN have been unsuccessful.
This insane bigotry, intolerance, absolute insistence on unquestioning belief, and complete lack of regard for a human being's civil and human rights - this is the true face of fundamentalist religions, this is truly unspeakable evil.

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