Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi
Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi
Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi (also Hosein Kazemaini Boroujerdi) (born August 1, 1958) is a former Iranian Twelver Shi'i Muslim Ayatollah and cleric who advocates the separation of religion and government and has been arrested and jailed several times by the Iranian government for his criticisms directed against the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
After eleven years as a political and religious prisoner, Boroujerdi defrocked, abandoning his status as an Ayatollah, and became an anti-religion activist. The Iranian state allegedly tried to have him killed after accusing him of apostasy.
He reportedly first expressed his opposition to the theocratic nature of the Islamic government of Iran under which Islamic jurists rule or provide "guardianship" in 1994. He has been quoted as saying Iranians "are loyal to the fundamentals of the true religion and the Prophet's mission", but are "tired of the religion of politics and political slogans."
Boroujerdi and many of his followers were arrested in Tehran on October 8, 2006, following a clash between police and hundreds of his followers. Iranian officials charged him with having claimed to be a representative of Muhammad al-Mahdi, a venerated figure in Shi'i Islam, a charge he denies. According to mardaninews website, as of 1 June 2008 "judicial authorities have released no information concerning his prosecution" and his medical condition is deteriorating.
Boroujerdi had been preaching a "traditional interpretation of Islam which separates religion from politics" in a mosque in a "poor neighbourhood in the south of Tehran" for some years.
He has been quoted as saying that Iranians "believe that they are loyal to the fundamentals of the true religion and the Prophet's mission, but they are opposed to the politicization of religion and its exploitation by a group that has nothing to do with true Islam. Islam is the religion of tolerance, forbearance, and mercy, to the point where [the Qur'an] emphasized to us that 'there is no compulsion in religion."
He wrote to Pope Benedict XVI and the European Union to complain about the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of his father Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Ali Kazemeini Boroujerdi in 2002, the subsequent confiscation of his father's mosque, and his own and his followers' harassment by Iran's theocratic government.
Boroujerdi says that since 1994 he says he has been summoned repeatedly before Iran's Special Clerical Court. He was imprisoned for several months in 1995 and 2001 and in 2006 he was again summoned by the Special Clerical Court.
In 2010, Boroujerdi wrote an open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, accusing him of responsibility for the violation of human rights in Iran, and calling for "free referendum" in Iran "directly supervised by UN observers."
He declined to appear for the summons and the Iranian government issued a warrant for his arrest. Supporters and students of the Ayatollah gathered at his home in order to protect him, many of them staying for "more than ten weeks to offer protection."
On October 7, 2006 a large crowd of over 1,000 people including many women gathered around his house and prevented his arrest by police forces and was able to repel them. The Iranian news service IRNA, posted pictures the demonstration and printed some of the slogans shouted by the crowd: "Freedom, freedom - This is our incontrovertible right," (a counterpoint to the slogan shouted by supporters of the regime during Friday prayers: "Nuclear energy - This is our incontrovertible right,") and, "[We are] ready for martyrdom according to our traditional religion - that is, Islam that is not political". The next day security forces arrested Boroujerdi and several hundred of his followers - "172 women and 225 men" - who had gathered to prevent his arrest.
According to mardaninews website: "In June 2007, the Special Clerical Court prosecuted him behind closed doors. The authorities have not provided any official accounting regarding his prosecution and sentencing. According to his associates, he was initially sentenced to death, but upon appeals his sentence was reduced to 11 years in prison, ten of which must be served in exile in city of Yazd. He has been deprived of access to an independent attorney throughout his prosecution and imprisonment."
Amnesty International reports that there are believed to have been 30 charges against him,
These include “waging war against God” (Moharebeh), for which the punishment is death; acts against national security; publicly calling political leadership by clergy (Velayat-e Faqih) unlawful; having links with anti-revolutionaries and spies; and using the term “religious dictatorship” instead of “Islamic Republic” in public discourse and radio interviews.
Condition in prison
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports Ayatollah Boroujerdi is suffering from "multiple health complications, including heart and respiratory problems and kidney stone complications, as well as loss of 80 percent of his vision due to cataracts. According to his physician, Dr. Hesam Firoozi, Ayatollah Boroujerdi has lost as much as 80 pounds (36kg) during his imprisonment."
Dr. Firoozi wrote to the head of the Judiciary on September 2, 2008:
“As an independent physician, with no political leanings and agenda, and in keeping with my sacred duties as a physician devoted to the goal of saving the lives of humans, I urge your Excellency to order his transfer to a specialist medical facility outside the prison, to save his life,” Dr. Firoozi wrote to the head of the Judiciary on September 2, 2008.
In April 2009, Boroujerdi wrote a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging Ki-Moon to intervene in his case, according to the website Washington TV. On 5 May 2009, he began a hunger strike to protest the suspension of his rights to make telephone calls to his family and lawyer and to receive visits from them. Two weeks later he was hospitalized in the medical facility of Yazd Prison. According to Roya Eraghi, a follower of Boroujerdi, as of July 2011 Boroujedri's health has further deteriorated due to severe pressure and torture in prison. Despite a heart condition and loss of vision in one eye, he has not been allowed to leave prison to receive medical treatment.
Life after Clericalism
During his stay in prison, Boroujerdi has voluntarily defrocked himself and abandoned the position and duties of an Islamic Cleric, in protest of the Iranian state and its system of Velayat-e-faqih.
Recently, Borujerdi has become more skeptical towards certain Islamic beliefs and texts of Quran and Hadiths, and instead advocates against organized religion (ascribing to 'No Politics-No Religion').
Instead of promoting and advocating for the Islamic faith and Shia sect, he began a movement in 2018 called Monotheism without borders, calling for all towards Tawhid (monotheism) which goes past man-made boundaries of religion, country, ritual, and traditional laws (Sharia). It means that the viewpoint of religious promoters and missionaries throughout all these years are done with. In Boroujerdi's views the religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism have become different from the truths of Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses because over time, the religions of those great prophets have been pierced by innovations, comments, records, etc.
- Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 8, 2006 translated at MEMRI
- Sadeq Saba (8 October 2006). "Iran arrests controversial cleric". BBC News.
- News/Imprisoned Cleric’s Life in Danger/Ayatollah Boroujerdi in need of urgent medical care[dead link] mardaninews.de 1 June 2008
- Arbitrary arrest/ fear for safety/possible prisoners of conscience/medical concern/torture and ill-treatment, amnesty.org, 10 August 2007
- Wright, Robin, Dreams and Shadows: the Future of the Middle East, Penguin Press, 2008, p.296
- See Mirjam Künkler: "The Special Court of the Clergy and the Repression of Dissident Clergy in Iran." https://ssrn.com/abstract=1505542
- Supporters Say Jailed Iranian Cleric In Poor Health| rferl July 07, 2011
- Rights Crisis Escalates - Faces and Cases from Ahmadinejad’s Crackdown, iranhumanrights.org, September 2008
- Jailed Iranian cleric seeks UN intervention in his case, Washington TV, April 10, 2009
- Iran: Further Information on Arbitrary arrest, Amnesty International, 19 May 2009
- The representative of Ayatollah Boroujedi in Europe
- BameAzadi - Ayatollah Seyed Hosein Kazemeini Boroujerdi's Database
- "Arrest of a High Ranking Cleric is a Return to Revolutionary Times", Iran Press Service 10 October 2006.
- "Dissident Cleric, Followers Arrested In Tehran", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty 9 October 2006.
- Nazenin Ansari. "An ayatollah under siege ... in Tehran" openDemocracy 8 October 2006.
- "Critical cleric arrested in Iran: reports", Washington Post[dead link] 8 October 2006.
- Alan Peters. "Ayatollah Revolts in Iran", Anti-Mullah 7 October 2006.
- Golnaz Esfandiari (October 6, 2006). "Iran: Outspoken Ayatollah Alleges Official Persecution". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.