Update: Cross-posted with kind permission on Harry's Place.
The aftershocks of the Islamic Republic seminar that was due to take place last week, but which freedom supporters overran, are still reverberating.
The disruption of the event was featured on the front page of iranian.com, Student Rights, Demotix, the frontpage of London Student newspaper, Harry's Place, as well as many personal weblogs.
I note with amusement that an Islamic Republic news website has picked up on the event, and even more amusingly has declared that "the supporters of three Iranian counter-revolutionary groups Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), communists and monarchists took advantage of the session and disrupted it shortly after the beginning.". Very amusing given that of the three groups mentioned, only the Worker's Communist Party of Iran was present. But the Islamic Republic doesn't care about that, they thrive off creating an atmosphere of fear, and frequently blame their on crimes on Monarchists or the the Mojahedin, e.g. after the killing of Neda by the Basij.
Even more interestingly, Alireza Bahmanpour one of the promoters of UCL AhlulBayt's "1979-The Revolution that Shook the World" event has issued a statement, as follows:
"So announce the Good News to My Servants- Those who listen to different Words, and follow the best of it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endued with understanding." (Holy Quran- Surah Zumar, verses 17 & 18).
On Thursday 11th February, the event held at UCL by the AhlulBayt society entitled “1979 - The Revolution that Shook the World” was disrupted by a group of individuals claiming to be standing for “democracy” and “freedom of speech” ironically, only 10 minutes into the program. The disruption was completely unnecessary with reference to the nature of the event; it involved shouting and aggressive behaviour on the part of a few. The fire alarm was also activated and we will be following this up with UCL security and Police.
Their actions are inexcusable and the AhlulBayt Society does not condone such behaviour. The event was meant to be educational, inviting dialogue and sensible discussion. We welcome people of different beliefs and opinions and it is for that reason that a Q+A had been arranged afterwards, which was unable to go ahead. We do not however welcome unruly behaviour and violence. The AhlulBayt Society expects the UCL union to condemn the actions of these disruptive groups whose actions clearly contravenes their policy on freedom of speech. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the event cancellation as well as for not making clear beforehand that our security measures had to be heightened for safety reasons.
The UCL AhlulBayt Society is voluntarily run by students under the UCL Union Student Body. False claims were made against us unsurprisingly, by the same few who disrupted the event- the AhlulBayt Society categorically rejects any claim of affiliation with the Iranian government and the society does not hold a view on Iranian politics of today, the intention of the event was purely to look at the rising in 1979 in the face of oppression.
We as a society do not believe in turning away from controversial events, rather the opposite. We encourage seeking the truth through dialogue and fair presentation of views. We apologise if anybody has been offended by our last event, please know that this is not our intention and we urge our members and those interested in our events not to be dispelled from being a part of the AhlulBayt Society in the future.
Finally, we would like to thank the Police and security personnel at UCL for removing these individuals. We would also like to thank our speakers and guests for remaining calm and for cooperating with security. We offer our apologies for any inconvenience caused and look forward to seeing you all at our future events, hopefully including one along a similar theme to this one.
Peace and blessings,
UCL ABSoc Committee
This appears to be the same Alireza Bahmanpour who posted this disgusting video on the Facebook event page, promoting Ahmadinejad's statement that "liberalism and Marxism would crush all human dignity". Right, because Khomeinism has been conducive to human dignity?
Bahmanpour bemoans the fact that the event was "disrupted by a group of individuals claiming to be standing for “democracy” and “freedom of speech” ironically, only 10 minutes into the program" and goes on to state that the Society's "freedom of speech" was "contravened". Over the past week, I've had some flak from various people for my part in "depriving" the regime lackies Yvonne Ridley and Mohammad Marandi of their "free speech".
Let me for once and for all dispel this argument. The Islamic Republic has never been democratic. It has inflicted itself upon the Iranian people and through terror, intimidation, rape and murder silences them and keeps itself in power. Therefore, it can be deduced that the Islamic Republic regime are terrorists. When was the last time our universities granted a platform to the IRA? Or Al Qaeda? Or the Taliban? The Islamic Republic is just like these groups, and worse. I stand 100% behind my actions in spreading the word and raising awareness about the vile nature of this event and its speakers (both in the employ of the Islamic Republic), which lead to its eventual disruption. It has nothing to do with depriving people of "free speech" and everything to do with resisting a fascist, terrorist regime. Anyone who has a problem with my stance should also start condemning the French Resistance because they "deprived" the Nazis of the right to terrorise France and the French people.
Another argument the event organisers and their supporters throw at us is this nonsense about "The event was meant to be educational, inviting dialogue and sensible discussion". That is patently untrue. The AhlulBayt Society organises an event attended by two of the vilest promoters of the Islamic Republic, who both have a track record in spreading Islamic Republic lies and they tell us this is "educational"? No, this was a chance for the Islamic Republic to spread its propaganda. If they truly believe in "debate and dialogue" why didn't they invite a few monarchists to gain the royalist's perspective of the 1979 Revolution? Or a few Mojahedin Khalqs? Or a few Communists? These groups all played crucial roles in the Iranian Revolution! So much for discussion! This event was publicised as little as possible and was intended to be a PR stunt for the Islamic Republic on the 31st anniversary of their assumption of power, and make no mistake.
Bahmanpour goes on to state that the AhlulBayt Society "categorically rejects any claim of affiliation with the Iranian government and the society does not hold a view on Iranian politics of today". I don't know who he thinks he's kidding. On 22 Bahman/11th February, when Iranians came out to fight against the very Islamists who hijacked the 1979 Revolution, UCL AhlulBayt organises an event declaring the "success" of the Revolution, to be backed up by two Islamic Republic propagandists? Who does he think he's kidding?
Alireza Bahmanpour strikes me as the sort of person that Iranians call a "bache sefarati". My old granddad warned me about bache sefaratis just before I started my first year at University. A "bache sefarati" (literal translation: "child of the embassy"), is a young person (often but not always) from a wealthy, conservative family in Iran who comes to the West for the sole purpose of gaining a decent education and disseminating Islamic Republic propaganda. They often have links with the Islamic Republic embassy in that country (hence the name) and do what they can to promote the Islamic Republic on university campuses. The Islamic Republic thrives off its network of apologists which attempt to misguide the masses. Amusingly enough, a quick glance at Bahmanpour's Facebook page reveal his stated political beliefs to be "خط امام و رهبری " (translation: Line of the Imam [i.e. Khomeini] and the Supreme Leader [i.e. Khamenei]. He is also a "fan" of PressTV, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei and "The movement to defend the Revolutionary community and Supreme Leader - Sharif Industrial University". The other organisers of the event had similar information and stances on their pages. So to sum up, this event was organised by Islamic Republic supporters, invited Islamic Republic employees and still they claim to have no "view on Iranian politics of today"?
Bahmanpour's statement finishes rather ominously with the AhlulBayt society stating that they "look forward to seeing you all at our future events, hopefully including one along a similar theme to this one". From what I hear from my contacts at UCL, the AhlulBayt society has been rattled by the past week's events and is currently being investigated. However, rest assured Mr Bahmanpour, if you ever again do decide to spread Islamic Republic propaganda, I and other free thinking human beings will be there to stop you.
Comments are most welcome