Iranian state TV is currently broadcasting via its five channels:
1) a discussion on havij bastani (an Iranian desert with carrots and ice cream)
2) a 1986 Japanese cartoon
3) an Indian movie
4) an even cheesier Iranian movie
5) a documentary on the Iran-Iraq war
I’ve had almost every Friday lunch I can bring to memory listening to the Friday sermon playing in the background. IRIB1 made sure to start the live program a full hour before the sermon began to showcase the environment and the “revolutionary spirit of our people.”
Apparently the spirit was a no-show this time as there is no sign of it on TV.
Bahman Agha is listening to the sermons on the radio from Tehran. I will be translating his words as long as he keeps them coming.
12:42 Taghavi the head of the organization that oversees the Friday prayer imams is still speaking. “Whoever participates in the Friday prayers is strengthening his ties with the leader.”
12:47 Taghavi is going on still.
12:48 Taghavi: The Imam is speaking on the behalf of the supreme leader and thus must only speak of those policies approved by him. The Imam must organize his speech according to these policies.
12:50 Taghavi: This podium and this gathering must never be used on behalf of any political party or political cause. The Friday prayer is a prayer said in allegiance with the supreme leader. It is a prayer of unity and brotherhood.
12:52 Taghavi (again): The Imam must only speak of those policies approved by the supreme leader.
12:55 Taghavi: Unity is a policy that must be propagated by the Friday prayer. Respect for the law is another such policy. We must accept the law even if it is not to our advantage.
12:58 Taghavi: We must accept everything the leader said during his Friday sermon a few weeks ago.
13:05 Taghavi is done speaking. He ended with a few grudging words for the BBC.
(I’m now listening to the sermons myself . There is only the sound of prayer playing via a speaker)
The moazzen is saying the azan.
Rafsanjani just got introduced to the podium.
Sound of loud chants we can’t make out.
Rafsanjani: Please sit down so we can make time for the speech.
Chants again. They’re not letting him speak. I can only make out “leader” in their chants. (the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader)
13:20 Rafsanjani: We are approaching the anniversary of the Friday prayers and today’s Friday prayer is in ways very similar to the first every prayers led by Ayatollah Taleqani. In hopes that we can use this prayer for the betterment of the future of our country and the goals of the revolution.
(Tehran radio is now cut off. The host just came on to announce that thousands of people are chanting Allah o Akbar in the streets. WTF?!)
13:23 Rafsanjani: I have a main part to my speech. It will be about the most critical aspects of Islam.
13:25 The second part of my speech will be about the goals of the revolution, the goals people have worked for and have given their blood for and the goals that our Imam [Khomeini] spent his entire life fighting for.
13:26 The third part will be about current events and the conditions we are in today. I will try to draw out solutions the way I see them. Of course, these will be my personal opinion.
13:27 Rafsanjani is speaking of Mohammad, the prophet, and the early days of Islam. This will go on for the first part of his sermon.
13:34 Rafsanjani is still speaking of Mohammad’s early days as prophet and his attempts to establish rule in Medina.
13:36 He is reciting a sourah from the Koran and interpreting it.
13:41 Rafsanjani is getting teary. “The prophet respected the rights of all those under his rule.” He brings an example from the end of the prophet’s life where the prophet comes to the people and asks that they come to him to let him know if he ever treated them unfairly.
13:44 The prophet felt, during the last years of his life, that animosity was brewing amongst his people [he is crying now]. The prophet felt that his old friends are now enemies.
13:46 The prophet went to Baghi [where his old friends were buried] and said to them: you are lucky that you are no longer here to see that your old brothers are killing and destroying one another.
The first part of the speech is over. The second has begun.
13:51 He begins (as is the custom) by mentioning the upcoming religious dates of significance (e.g., the death of the seventh Shi’a Imam)
13: 52 May all the oppressors who make innocent people bleed be a witness to eternal condemnation
[the chants begin again]
13:53 I asked you, I pleaded for you to let me speak.
13:54 Rafsanjani condemns China. People chant “Death to China”. He asks that people stop their chants.
13:55 Rafsanjani: China has a rational government. It must look at how it can benefit from its relations with the Islamic world. We hope that we will no longer be witness to such atrocities towards Muslims in China or anywhere else in the world.
13:55 But coming to our own problems. We started off very well in the race for the presidency. Everything went smoothly and fairly.
13:56 People became very hopeful. Everything was set for a glorious day. This glory was due to the people. They were the ones who went to the ballot box. And we must be grateful to them.
13:57 I so very much wish that that path had been continued. But unfortunately, that was not the case. I will now elaborate. We must first see what we [probably the ruling establishment] were after. This is coming from a person who was always by the Imam[Khomeini’s] side [he is referring to himself]. For 60 years. The Imam was always after the people. After getting their approval and their participation. This was the art of the Imam which made him so successful. It took the Imam less than 20 years to get the people to come to the streets.
13:58 These people, the ones who were behind the Imam, broke the back of the Shah and brought him to his knees.
13:59 After the victory of the revolution too, we worked on a daily basis with the Imam. The Imam would always say that if the system is not backed by the people, nothing would stand.
14:00 The Imam would always quote the prophet [Muhammad] who would say to Ali [Mohammad’s successor]: leave the people if they do not want you.
14:02 He is speaking of the Imam’s command to Bazargan to form a temporary government. But the Imam tells him to keep it short to pave the way for the constitution.
14:03 We agreed that you will stop chanting. If we do not have the votes of the people behind us, we will have nothing. The guardian council, the expediency council, EVERYONE gets their legitimacy from the vote of the people.
14:04 Without Islam, without a republic, we have nothing. Ali [Imam Ali, the prophet’s successor] waited 19 years until the people came for him.
14:05 Stop chanting.
14:06 Why did the elections come to this? Before the election, near the end, some people had doubts about what was going to happen. Maybe because of the way the broadcasting corporation behaved.
14:07 Rafsanjani: Some are chanting and I can’t make out what they say. But I am speaking what you want to hear. I want unity too.
14:08 I have always acted above and beyond party lines, and now too we must search for unity to find a way out of our quandary.
14:09 I have some suggestions. I have spoken to some members of the the expediency council and the assembly of experts about them too. [Signaling that he is the chief of the assembly of experts and the expediency council and he is speaking from that platform]
14:10 We must bring back the trust of the people. First of all, everyone must accept the law. The people, the parliament, everyone.
14:11 We must create a condition so that everyone can speak. We must speak logically. And a part of this responsibility is on the shoulders of the broadcasting corporation.
14:12 The guardian council did not make good use of the extra fives days given to them by the leader.
14:13 We do not need people in prison for this. Let’s allow them to return to their families.
[More chants of Allah o Akbar]
14:14 We must join with those who have incurred great loss and try to lesson their pain.
14:15 We must give freedom to the press within the confines of the law.
[not a word of the government]
14:15 We are all members of the same family. We must remain friends and allies. Why have we gone so far as to pain some of our marajeh [top religious leaders]?
14:16 I hope this sermon will pave a way out of this current situation. A situation that can be considered a crisis.
14:17 The sermon is finished.
14:18 Two chants can be heard: the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader and Hashemi, Hashemi, may god keep you safe.
The speech was brilliant. At least as far as my sleep deprived brain can think right now. Maybe I’ll have a different opinion later. He didn’t even MENTION the government. How great is that?
Sorry for all the typos, grammatical errors, etc. I’ll edit this soon!