Two days ago, 20 January 2023, I published And STILL they prattle on about a “women’s revolution” - Part 3, in which I offer critique of, amongst other things, accusing Iran of human rights abuses, violating international norms, hypocrisy, debasing Islam, and the like. Uncannily, at that same moment, The Algemeiner published an opinion piece by Dr Alon Ben-Meir that did exactly those things: “Iran’s Human Rights Violations Are Indescribable.”
Opening with the line, “The Iranian government continues to commit human rights violations and crimes against humanity,” Dr Ben-Meir straightaway demonstrates that he does not know what the Iranian regime is. It goes downhill from there. “Iran’s theocratic government is violating every grain of human rights, in brazen defiance of Islam’s teachings — which the government cynically claims to uphold.”
Iran is not just a theocratic government, like something that can be voted out at the next election. The Iranian government sometimes refers to itself as an “Islamic government,” meaning a “divine government,” but mostly as the “Islamic Republic.” The distinction is important, because, for the purposes of this polemic, the government is irrelevant. What matters is that Iran is a state, one based on Shari’a, driven by an ideology focussed on imposing Islam on all of humanity by whatever means, even at the cost of its own existence, something that no government can change, nor any amount of protesting, for that matter. Every fibre of the Islamic state’s being, everything it thinks, everything it says, everything it does, is expressly geared towards this single purpose and nothing else.
To fail to understand this is to sleepwalk into a catastrophe, like failing to understand Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union or China or North Korea. This essay shows that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not act in defiance of Islam’s teachings, brazen or otherwise, quite the contrary. To say that, “the government cynically claims to uphold,” Islamic teachings is either to misunderstand Islamic teachings, or to wilfully obfuscate them. It will be shown that Dr Ben-Meir does the latter.
The regime’s cruelty and hypocrisy makes a mockery of the Koran, which explicitly forbids the killing of anyone without the due process of law: “Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law.”
This is Qur’an 6:151. Very good, except what does the Qur’an mean by “by way of justice and law,” and what does Dr Ben-Meir mean by it? Clearly, the verse does mean “due process of law,” but which law? Dr Ben-Meir’s assumption is Western law based on human rights. But the Qur’an expressly forbids all law except Shari’a, and there are most certainly no human rights in Shari’a. The one who mocks the Qur’an here is Dr Ben-Meir, for he wants, nay, takes it for granted, that the law in the Qur’an is Western law, and that the law of Iran, Shari’a, is not the law of the Qur’an, but one that makes a mockery of it.
From the Iranian government, more accurately the Islamic Republic’s, point of view, the regime is not committing any atrocities “against its own people.” Its own people are not enemies of Islam. Its own people do not wage war against God. Its own people to not make mischief in the land. It is not committing atrocities, but administering just punishments upon enemies of Allah in accordance with the law.
The authorities have been killing children in a bid to crush the spirit of resistance among the country’s youth and retain their iron grip on power at any cost. A recent report notes that “Children represent 14% of overall deaths of protesters and bystanders recorded by Amnesty International, which exceeds 300 since the protests erupted.”
Dr Ben-Meir is seemingly unaware of the extent to which the regime is capable of committing mass infanticide. Let us recall a contemporaneous account of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War:
Their ticket to Paradise is the blood-red headband and the small metal key that they wear into battle. “Sar Allah,” (“Warriors of God”), some of the headbands read in Farsi script, identifying the wearers as divinely designated martyrs who will use their keys to go directly to heaven if killed in the holy war against Iraq declared by their leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The headbands and the keys are worn by young boys, aged 12 to 17, who are recruited by local clergy or simply rounded up in the villages of Iran, given an intensive indoctrination in the Shiite tradition of martyrdom, and then sent weaponless into battle against Iraqi armor. Often bound together in groups of 20 by ropes to prevent the fainthearted from deserting, they hurl themselves on barbed wire or march into Iraqi mine fields in the face of withering machine-gun fire to clear the way for Iranian tanks. Across the back of their khaki-colored shirts is stenciled the slogan: “I have the special permission of the Imam to enter heaven.”
For totalitarianism to attain self-replication, it needs one generation to spend its entire life, from birth to death, under totalitarianism, never knowing anything else. The battalions of children that the Iran regime used for mine-clearing and cannon fodder in the Iran-Iraq War in 1980-88 would have been the parents of that first pure Islamic generation, zombies ready to slay and be slain in the cause of Allah. Unfortunately for Islam’s dreamers, a very large proportion of those would-be parents got blown to bits or shot to bits in the war, and those who survived the war with injuries were left either unable or extremely unlikely to ever father children. What remained of that generation who eventually did raise children, raised their children not as model Muslims, ready to die for Allah, but people who burnt hijabs on the streets, trampled holy turbans underfoot and tore down the Iranian emblem, which is the name ‘Allah’ and the Islamic article of faith ‘There is no God but Allah.’ In other words, the very generation that was to have been the guarantor of perpetual totalitarianism, had turned into its nemesis.
Nazi Germany was destroyed before its first generation of pure Aryans could create and raise the next generation. This is exactly why totalitarianism is proving so tenacious in Russia and China, and under Islam, each generation replicating its way of being in the next. Had the free peoples of the world understood this, they would have recognised the Islamic Republic for what it was and appreciated the significance of so many children killed between 1980 and 1988: an existential threat to Islamic totalitarianism a little over a generation away. They would have anticipated the events sweeping Iran today and prepared for this moment to finally destroy the Islamic Republic and Islam’s most potent force along with it. Instead, we ended up with an Orwellian European Council telling us FREEDOM IS IN HIJAB, Western leaders who pre-emptively capitulate to Islam, and talking heads who find fascist brutality “inconceivable,” while tut-tutting the stunning cruelty of the Islamic Republic as “debasing Islam.”
The Iranian police are known for their cruelty and disregard for human life, even in regards to children, and the families of their under-aged victims, unlawfully gunned down or beaten to death by security forces, face arbitrary arrest, intimidation, and harassment. (My emphasis)
Dr Ben-Meir seems unaware that Islam recommends the killing of children who might prove troublesome for Islam. He goes on to add:
They expose their inconceivable brutality through their sinister attempt to cover up their crimes by warning the relatives of the deceased child to remain silent or else face the death penalty.
On the one hand, Dr Ben-Meir tells his readers:
Iran does not simply hang its protesters, but displays their lifeless bodies suspended from cranes. …To demonstrate their utter shamelessness, in 2021 the regime even hanged a dead young woman who was on death row but died from a heart attack while waiting for 16 others to be executed before her. Her corpse was hung from the neck, on display for thousands of people.
On the other hand, he tells them of “their sinister attempt to cover up their crimes.” Is this a schizophrenic regime that “demonstrates their utter shamelessness” and, at the same time, “attempts to cover up their crimes”? If both these impulses are true, then the situation is more complex and it behoves Dr Ben-Meir to explain that complexity to his readers. If these impulses are not both true, then Dr Ben-Meir has to make up his mind while it is and write more clearly. The regime is not trying to “cover up their crimes.” The death penalty threat is not for speaking out, but for “spreading mischief in the land,” by speaking out.
Even though the Koran places immense value on every single human life — and in fact states (5:32) that “… if anyone slew a person … it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” — the government casually ignores the Koran’s teachings.
Oh man, not 5:32 again. This is the hackneyed go-to verse of those who try to defend Islam, or want to justify their candyfloss view of it. The whole verse reads: “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” For this defence of Islam to stand a better chance, apologists and obfuscators usually leave out some awkward bits, such as its reference to 5:33, so that the quotation usually ends up, as in Dr Ben-Meir’s case, as, “If anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” The subsequent verse, 5:33, that makes nonsense of the fluffiness of this prettified 5:32, is usually ignored.
But wait, Dr Ben-Meir does bring up 5:33. Is he about to point out how 5:33 cancels 5:32? Let us see. Dr Ben-Meir quotes 5:33 as follows:
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed … or that they be exiled from the land.”
By now the reader should have seen enough of Dr Ben-Meir to be suspicious of those ellipses. What has Dr Ben-Meir left out? The quoted passage, including the omitted part, reads:
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.”
Why did Dr Ben-Meir feel the need to leave out, “or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides”? Could it be because these words show that far from “making a mockery of the Koran,” the Iranian regime’s cruelty is not “in brazen defiance of Islam’s teachings”? Far from it. The cruelty and barbarism of the Iranian regime are Islam’s teachings. This raises serious questions about Dr Ben-Meir’s intentions in writing his opinion piece.
Dr Ben-Meir quotes Ali Vaez, Iran Project Director at the International Crisis Group: “The executions are aimed at creating a republic of fear in which the people don’t dare to protest.” Iran is an Islamic Republic. The aim of the executions is to protect Islam, and through it, also themselves. Of course the mullahs have everything to lose. Terence Smith again:
Iran's l80,000 or so mullahs have also become more important and influential under the new regime. Through tens of thousands of local mosques, they dispense food- rationing and fuel cards, issue business permits, censor books and plays, pass regulations, run the courts, collect taxes, recruit war volunteers and issue interest- free loans to those they consider deserving. The mosques also keep detailed records on every member of their congregations, records that provide a grassroots intelligence file for the regime.
When Dr Ben-Meir complains of the “vague capital charges such as ‘enmity against God,’” he again misunderstands totalitarianism. The vagueness of the charges is the whole point. It gives the Islamic state a free hand to dispose of anyone they want, no matter what they might have done or not done. It imposes pre-emptive compliance. That’s how totalitarianism works. “Islamophobia” and “hate speech” work in exactly the same way to exactly the same end.
To complain about “rapid, closed-door trials,” again, betrays a lack of understanding of totalitarianism. To be charged, especially with “waging war against God,” renders the accused, ipso facto, guilty. What would be the point of a lengthy, public trail if the accused is already guilty? Also, “Most Iranian prisons are unfit for human habitation.” Those guilty of “waging war against God” or “making mischief in the land” are enemies of Allah, and as such, unfit for human status, being not only subhuman, but lower than animals. The prisons might be “unfit for human habitation,” but their inmates are not human. There is no problem here. Clearly visible now should be the impotence of Dr Ben-Meir's coup de grâce:
The clergy, who supposedly believe in God’s creations without any reservation, conveniently forget that these people are also God’s creation, and that treating them like animals defies God’s will.
Wherever Dr Ben-Meir got this fanciful notion from, it is not from Islam. In Islam, God himself condemns all of his creation that is not Muslim, especially Jews, as "the lowest of created beings." At the same time, God has elevated Muslims to be the hand by which he brings down his wrath upon those he has condemned. Did Dr Ben-Meir delete those bits, too?
Nearly all early (8th century) and later commentaries on the Koran explain that the verse [5:33] originated “in response to a crime of extreme violence, torture, and murder committed against a group of innocent villagers…” Iran, however, is a prime example of how various Islamic governments, including the Taliban in Afghanistan, have used the term to kill political dissidents. (My emphasis)
We frequently encounter this placing of the cart before the horse when it comes to Muslim excesses. Those who carry out their Islamic commandments to the letter are accused of “using” Islam to “justify” their terrorism or other iniquities. The terrorism and other iniquities are the commandments. They come first, whatever they might subsequently be used for. With, “Nearly all early (8th century) and later commentaries on the Koran,” Dr Ben-Meir seeks to do the same as with omitting the barbaric section of 5:33. He wants to sanitise the Qur’an and convince his readers that Islam is harmless, by telling us that the Iranian regime, the Taliban, ISIS, etc., operate “in brazen defiance” of the teachings. Somewhere along the way, Dr Ben-Meir admits, “If this does not debase Islam, I don’t know what does.” Since he does not know Islam, what debases it is moot.
“The Iranian government is simply irredeemable,” says Dr Ben-Meir. In whose eyes, one might ask. In whose eyes is the Iranian regime assumed to seek redemption? Let alone that they are assumed to seek redemption in the first place. He continues:
Every Islamic country, religious institution, and imam, be they Sunni or Shiite, must make their voice heard and condemn Iran’s criminal mullahs in the strongest terms for disgracing Islam and debasing its virtues for the sake of clinging unchallenged to power.
Oh, this will go down very well in every mosque. The fact that Dr Ben-Meir can sit there and write this means that he has not been to any Islamic country, religious institution, or imam, Sunni or Shiite, to give them the benefit of his wisdom.
Regardless of what measures the Iranian clergy takes to suppress the people, the government’s days are numbered. As Spinoza observed in his Theologico-Political Treatise, tyrannical governments will always be “in as much danger from their own subjects as from external enemies.”
This might be so, but it by no means implies that “their days are numbered.” Tyrannical governments do not stand or fall by subclauses lifted from treatises.
Dr Ben-Meir seems to have learnt nothing from a century of totalitarianism. He is far from alone. It is part of the Western psychological make-up to not credit weaker systems with being systems in their own right with their own raisons d’être. We assume, for example, that because communism has failed economically, there is nothing more to be said. Certainly, if capitalism failed economically, the whole system would be trashed. But economic success is not necessarily, or even likely, the raison d’être of communism. That means that success in their eyes looks very different to what it looks like to us.
One would have thought that Dr Ben-Meir would at least have picked this much up from the “Palestinians” consciously conceiving children so they may grow up to become suicide bombers in Jerusalem. Mothers who have “given sons” in this way are praised as “stars in the Palestinian firmament.” Every Palestinian is proud when one of their fellows kills himself in this way. “In this way” means killing Jews in the process of killing himself. “They fight in the cause of Allah, so they slay and are slain,” as the Qur’an 9:111 says. Perhaps Dr Ben-Meir wants to lecture the Iranians on how they make a mockery of that verse, too.
The Chinese Communist Party did not want to “lift China out of poverty” because of any soft spot it has for the Chinese people, it wanted to do so to be able to militarily dominate the world. If they thought they could accomplish world domination with its population living like animals, it would have done so. Iran, i.e., Islamic totalitarianism, could not care less about their national economy (“Economics is for donkeys”) or the hard lives of their people. There is nothing weird about Ayatollah Khomeini saying, in all earnestness, that he has no problem seeing Iran destroyed, if that’s what it takes for Islam to prevail. The same callous disregard goes for the Iranian people. Just to reinforce the point, let us return to the slaughter of Iranian children and teenagers in the Iran-Iraq War, Terence Smith reports:
An East European journalist who witnessed one of these human-wave assaults, in which tens of thousands of young Iranians have gone willingly to their deaths, could hardly believe what he was seeing, as first one boy, and then another, detonated a mine and was hurled into the air by the explosion. ''We have so few tanks,'' an Iranian officer explained to the journalist, without apology.
Far from “the government casually ignor[ing] the Koran’s teachings,” they are following it to the letter. Dr Ben-Meir has to make up his mind: does he want the Iranian regime to follow Islam, or the fantasy Islam he puts before his readers? Does he want the regime to obey the Qur’an they have, or his Qur’an from which he has redacted all the nasty bits? Dr Ben-Meir might act as if Iran aspires to sit at the high table of liberal democracy and human rights, but it does not. The Islamic subjugation of the entire planet under Shari’a is the raison d’être of any and every Islamic state. Iran is no exception. The only way to oppose the Iranian regime’s barbaric treatment of the Iranian people is by opposing Islam, both in Iran and outside of it. Everything else is just a cowardly way of avoiding criticising Islam. In this context, nothing that Dr Ben-Meir said about Iran makes any sense. I fear that too many policies around the world are based on thinking such as his, alas, all to our cost.
Having said all that, a tectonic shift is, indeed, underway in Islam. The “scholars” have lost control over lay Muslims, putting Islam and all Islamic states in peril. It would be charitable to say that this does not interest Dr Ben-Meir.
- Terence Smith, “Iran: Five Years of Fanaticism,” The New York Times Magazine, 12 February 1984. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/02/12/magazine/iran-five-years-of-fanaticism.html