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Iran: The Crisis…and the Street! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Since the Khomeini revolution took place, and it was named the Islamic Revolution (may God help Islam, as its name is being used by banks, ruling regimes, political parties, barbershops, and others), there has been a misguided passion for naming some main streets in Tehran with names that are provocative and beyond the bounds of politeness and respect.

For example there is the Abu Lulu al Majusi Street, which is named after the assassin of Caliph Omar Ibn al Khattab. Al Majusi is a figure who is generally reviled by the entire Arab world, and yet despite this a street was named after him in Iran. After this incident, the Iranian regime’s behaviour in this regard continued, and it angered the largest Arab country by naming a street after Khalid al Islambouli, the assassin who brutally killed Egyptian President Anwar al Sadat, along with other innocent people. This Iranian innovation was renewed when they named one of Tehran’s streets after Hussein al Huthi. Al Huthi was not a great scholar, nor was he a figure that earned respect or admiration during his lifetime, nor did he achieve anything for Yemen other than great strife, and this is something that the Yemenis are still paying for today.

Can anybody look at these street names and judge them favourably or believe them to be innocent?

I think this would be very difficult. Iran is interested in dividing the Arab “street” by inciting emotions, whilst in fact they are harming the Arabs through marginal conflicts that many people have been the victims of. All of this was taking place in order to draw attention away from the internal challenges the Iranian regime is facing, and these are well-known challenges such as unemployment, corruption, racial discrimination against ethnic minorities, and the issue of Iran infringing its neighbours’ borders and threatening them.

However Iran’s biggest problems, which the world came to fully recognize following the implications of the recent [Iranian] presidential elections, lies in the strong scepticism surrounding the competence of Iran’s Supreme Leader and the Iranian regime…or in the figure of the Wali al Faqih himself. These doubts come from a very important figure and heavyweight Marja’ [religious cleric], Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Ayatollah Montazeri was at odds with Khomeini himself over several issues, and today as an Islamic jurist, he is considered to be more important and influential than [Supreme Ruler of Iran] Ali Khamenei who is only protected by his political position. However this protection has been strengthened by statements, such as the statement of a sheikh who said that the authority of the Supreme Leader is drawn directly from God, therefore making the issue of criticizing him an extremely complicated one.

The problems in Iran are enormous and they require immediate treatment that does not conceal these problems from the people or draw attention away from them with the naming of streets, the positions given to officials, or with wars supported for trivial reasons. There are internal wars taking place in Iran for purely internal reasons and this is due to the desire for change. As for the issue of the provocative naming of streets, this is fully consistent with the real reasons for exporting the revolution…which is the provocation of others.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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