Grand Ayatollah Sanei has set a standard for moral critique of abuse of authority…and done so in an elegant and dispassionate manner the likes of which is seldom seen in the “advanced” democracies of the West.
Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, who retired from his official position in government in 1988, has denounced the Iranian regime, placing himself squarely in the camp of the opposition, despite the threats of bodily harm that they have come under from regime supporters. The eloquence of his speech puts to shame not only the morally compromised Iranian hardliners but also those American politicians who have in recent years tried so hard to find excuses for torture and military brutality toward Islamic societies.
- Dear clerics, you know Arabic, go read our texts. No one is allowed to torture prisoners. Even if by law, a criminal is condemned to a certain punishment, we are not allowed to punish him if he is sick. Read the words of Imam Ali. Imam Ali said that any prisoner who is being held captive, is tortured or hurt, and who has no access to the outside world, can not be forced into confession. Torture is not allowed.
- I told one of the officials who came to see me, who was there on behalf of a very high official, I told him: annul the election result. Hold a new election. The sky isn’t going to fall. This is a knot that is easily undone. A knot that can be undone with the hands, we don’t undo with our teeth. He said no, there’s been no fraud. I told him, there’s been no fraud, o.k. This sounds like the story of the man who told another man, I’ll give you 70 reasons why there’s no water in the pool. The other said, I’ll give you only one reason that there is, and he picked up the first man and threw him in the pool. They’ve acted so horrifically that now, even an election annulment will not do them any good.
- I remember going to Tehran from Qom when I was a student, to protest. The friends of the Imam were careful to see where they could go that would be in the benefit of the Imam. Now you must do the same. You must see where you can be present that can help you achieve your aims. Go there, participate.
- Pity the nation whose daily news is not that of their pain and suffering. The pain today is the suffering of the prisoner who is held hostage by the tyrants. The pain is that confessions are forced. Pain is not letting them sit at the grave of their loved ones to say a prayer. Pain is attempting to free these prisoners. That is what we must focus on.
In a world where Western politicians try to justify nuclear aggression, Sanei stated in a 2003 interview:
There is complete consensus on this issue. It is self- evident in Islam that it is prohibited to have nuclear bombs. It is eternal law, because the basic function of these weapons is to kill innocent people. This cannot be reversed.
He also stated in the same interview:
You cannot deliberately kill innocent people.
Both remarks could have been interpreted as following a self-serving party line at that time, but they are consistent with his recent remarks in a completely different and much more threatening context.