Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From Iran: Habermas and the "conspirators"

Mohsen Kadivar and Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari have now published responses to the accusations from the Iranian regime that their meeting with Jürgen Habermas in 2002 in Iran was part of a plan to spread secularism in the country.

The accusations were made by the prosecutor at the opening of the mass trial against 100 political activists and protesters on August 1, 2009 (see my previous post on the case here). The prosecutor said that when Habermas traveled to Iran, there was a confidential meeting at the home of Mohsen Kadivar. It was attended by Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari and Saeed Hajjarian.

Mohsen Kadivar has addressed the accusations in a video, which has been available on YouTube. Here he says: "If I meet with one of the greatest living philosophers, Jürgen Habermas, they, the illiterate, ignorant thugs ruling over our country today will respond: “Didn’t we tell you? You were trying to topple the regime in your talks.” I have met with many philosophers and will do so in the future. How can you stop our academic and scientific dialog? Go and read the prosecutor’s statements. It is filled with sentences like “meeting with Rorty, meetings with so and so, meeting with Habermas. They have come to change Iran. Exactly. We are trying to use rational, legal and peaceful means to right the rampant corruption you have inflicted on the country. And more than Rorty or Habermas, I personally refer to the Koran and Nahjolbalagheh [a book of the teachings of Imam Ali] — unless you are going to ban these texts as well. Just like today, Allah o Akbar [God is Great] is among the accusations hurled at our friends in prison, reading the nahjolbalagheh might soon meet the same fate." [From the online news magazine "Tehran Bureau" - here.]

Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari has published his response on the Iranian website The German newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau" brings today a German translation of his statement: Habermas und die "Verschwörer".

In his response Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari says that the meeting with Habermas was not confidential. It was arranged on the wish of Habermas, who would like to talk with non-orthodox religious people ("einige religiöse Neudenker des Iran"). The meeting was not about secularisation of Iran. At the meeting they told Habermas that they were critical towards both modernity and the ideology and practice of the regime in Iran, and that they did not wish that the Western culture should take possession of Iran.

Shabestari ends his statement by saying: "Ich schreibe das nicht, um mich gegen einen Tatvorwurf zu verteidigen. Auch wenn auf jener Sitzung über die Entwicklung der Säkularisierung im Iran gesprochen worden wäre, wäre es kein Vergehen gewesen. Intellektuell Interessierte dürfen sich über jeden Gegenstand austauschen und einen Dialog führen".

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