A vain effort to conceal Iran’s leadership role in the death and torture of Interuniversalism founder
It has been five years since the arrest of Mohammad Ali Taheri, the founder of Interuniversalism “Erfan Halgheh.” His fate is still covered by a veil of mystery. Some of his supporters believe that he died under the pressure of interrogators while on hunger strike, while others believe he is alive. Taheri’s five years of solitary confinement ended on May 4, 2016, but he has not been released or seen by anyone.
The case of Interuniversalism is a notable example of the way government security forces have been successfully confronting conscious groups. In the past five years, Interuniversalism has practically proven that not only does it distance itself from politics, but it is in fact unfamiliar with the science of politics, and therefore it does not pose a security threat to the government. However, the threat of Interuniversalism to the Islamic Republic is caused by its modern interpretation of Islamic Mysticism, something that the clergy and, at a higher level, the leadership is unable to do. This is the reason why Interuniversalism is considered to be a security threat to Iran’s regime.
The most important weakness of Interuniversalism is unfamiliarity with the political atmosphere in Iran. The fact that Mohammad Ali Taheri is involved with the security forces of the government makes the case political, even though on the surface it is about the disrespect of religious beliefs and touching females. Therefore, if defending Mr. Taheri is important to his followers, there are no choices other than to deeply understand the political science and appropriate political behaviors in Iran.
The most fundamental and important detail that the followers of Interuniversalism seem to have missed is attention to the effective presence of the leader of the Islamic Republic in confronting spiritual groups, Interuniversalism in particular. There is much evidence to support this claim, such as claims made by the deputy chairman of Iran’s congress that there are agents assigned by the leader to track down deviated spiritual groups. But the house of leadership purposefully stays away from the subject matter and prefers to assign its unnamed soldiers and individuals the shameful task of dealing with individuals whose only threat to the Islamic Republic is their beliefs.
This is the reason why the long-term but ineffective efforts of Mohammad Ali Taheri’s supporters will not end in any visible result. In the beginning the approach of the followers was based on an optimistic view that the government would soon realize it had made a mistake, and would release him. However, it is evident that the decision about his case, like many other national security cases, had been decided beforehand, at the highest political layer of the government, and what was left was the superficial legal process. Yes, in the eyes of the leader, Interuniversalism is considered to be in the category of “false spirituality” and needs to be destroyed.
Mohammad Ali Taheri’s advice to “avoid politics,” which prior to the conflicts had been issued as a principal of conduct for the group, turned into a test to distinguish between the loyal followers and the infiltrators, unaware that there were those within the group who had delicately fallen into the government’s political game to establish what is now known as The Government’s Interuniversalism, “Erfan Halgheh.” This branch of Interuniversalism sees the solution in the process of the Islamic Republic’s judiciary. This is the same judiciary that is entirely under the direction of the leader—the same leader who has assigned representatives to crack down on deviated spiritual groups.
The government of Iran, like any other political structure, is a calculating government. This is the same government that shifted from its position regarding nuclear conflict when the cost of fighting it surpassed its benefits. The subject of nuclear negotiations is the same subject that somehow turned into something related to the integrity of the government, but in the end, all the slogans were forgotten.
Although the problem of Interuniversalism is an important issue for the leadership in Iran, it is not as big an issue as the problem of nuclear deals for the government. If the Iranian government could take a less aggressive stance in regards to nuclear issues, it is not unlikely that the government would soften its position in the case of Mohammad Ali Taheri if the cost of its continuous fight against him were to increase.
In the case of Taheri, the security forces of the government follow a clear course of action to keep the role of the leadership in the dark as they confront Interuniversalism, and to pretend that this is a judicial issue on a normal processing course. But the truth is that this is the government’s attempt to eliminate Interuniversalism, and the security forces and the judiciary are the administrators of the project.
As long as the pressure is applied to the administrators, who are often unknown, we can say that practically no one is under pressure. As long as the efforts are focused on proving that Taheri is a Muslim and a twelfth Imam Shiite, the judiciary will conveniently rely on evidence such as a video showing Mohammad Ali Taheri touching a woman’s hand, to prove that he is a deviant. The efforts go towards asking for Fatwa from the clergies within the government. There are always those who issue such orders in fear of losing their position of power. As long as the government-assigned attorney is asking supporters not to go on streets and protest because this might complicate the case even more (a suggestion that has no legal basis and is a wonder when heard from the mouth of lawyer) proves that he is only a spokesperson for the government.
Alizadeh Tabatabaee, the lawyer of Mr. Taheri, appears to be friendly to the case, but it is clear that he has been verbalizing the government’s demands regarding his case and emphasizing what behaviors will be costly for the government.
And lastly, as long as the concentration of followers is on the subsidiaries and not on the real cause of opposition to Interuniversalism, which is the request of the leader Ali Khamenei, it is unlikely that the cost of this project will ever surpass its profits.