Show Trials During Ramadan


Citing unnamed sources in Iran’s judiciary, the website irinn.ir is reporting Shane Bauer and Josh Fattel, following closed-door court hearings on Feb. 6th and July 31st, were each sentenced to three years for illegal entry into Iran and five years for cooperating with American intelligence services and spying for the United States. Attorney Masoud Shafiee, representing in front of a branch of the country’s politically charged Iran’s Revolutionary Court both of these Americans, had yet to hear a verdict since the trial ended.

When you had been awaiting rulings on issues of power and might. On issues of life and death. Waiting and waiting in Iran, where the Revolutionary Court handles national security cases. And your case had become a bit of a Show Trial. In a place where you never had planned to be until a uniformed officer summoned you, in a place where you did not speak his language, to his side.

The place was Iran, overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There were branches of government with a judiciary and a president and a legislative branch, all under the power and might of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Did you believe in defendants’ rights, wherever they might have been born? When it comes to Show Trials. What did you believe in? In a part of the world where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was fighting against another branch of believers, in Saudi Arabia. Over who knew God best. On issues of power and might. On earth. These sons of Abraham who had shown up with Ishmael, if you believed the Qoran, in the reading at the end of Ramadan, of Eid Al Fitr. With the same scene played out between Abraham and Ishmael, that the Judeo-Christian world knows from when Abraham took Isaac to the mountain top. To sacrifice his son.

Ramadan being the month in which the first verses of the Qoran were written, denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. The Revolutionary Court, working in an auspicious month of Ramadan when the revelations of God to humankind first came down. With bigger than life people, in bigger than life moments, on mountaintops. Like in the strange story of covenant on Eid Al Fitr, as Mohammed began to record stories of power and might. The stories shared by Persian people led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as Arabs in various tribes and nations.

All the things done in the name of God, over who knew best…crazy thing like a father thinking of killing his son, to confer a spirit, to somehow pass on a tradition, a point of view. About belief. Not much different than Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who approves the Minister of Intelligence and the Minister of Defense. Or other crazy secular things done by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with his own Quds Force which reports directly to him, like some kind of Papal Guard.

Ramadan, as a name for the month, of Islamic origin. With an imagination connecting the real world of fear to sacrifice. Amidst all the dysfunction in the world, belief. When dysfunction was related to the depth of communication, in a relationship, and there was Muslim people showing God reverence. Especially during Ramadan. It was why there was still hope at the end of Ramadan that clemency might be given. Like God seemed to give clemency to Ishmael. As well as to Abraham. Because when it was all over, Abraham had to return to home.

Crazy people, with God or without Him. Abraham was never welcomed back. To Hagar. Not after he tried to kill her son. Or, as the prosecutors might have pointed out, just in trying to act upon his crazy belief. When neither of them were ever coming back. Originally. These guys after all were nomads, for God sake. Can you imagine the shock of Hagar when she heard the story? Or the neighbors?

It probably was not much different than the shock those of us in the West who heard the verdict from Iran’s Revolutionary Court had, whenever they got up enough courage to announce this verdict to the world, as well as the attorney for the defendant. And imagine the shock of that third hiker as she sat down today listening to the songs of Cat Stevens. Or depending on when you came to hear him,
Yusuf Islam. Or imagine the shock when you learned the verdict from your bare-faced prison guards, instead of your own lawyer.

Seeing a mirage. When you were caught on a sandbar, in some kind of never-ending sandstorm, and you lost any conception of recognized measure of depth which surrounded you. As the Arab Spring turned to desert heat in the neighboring countries, and you felt as suffocated as the Persian women who you saw only on occasion outside, mostly crying sometimes laughing inside their buqas. To hear the news today, when the air seemed as hard to breathe as the sand, was a lot like reading an obit. Too much like your own obituary, which addressed eight years of your young life. In a country that you never wanted to visit.


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1 comment so far

  1. paperlessworld on

    It is of note that in September 2011, the home of Attorney Masoud Shafiee was raided and searched by five members of the Republican Guard. At that time both his computer hard drive as well as the case file of the two American hikers were confiscated along with other documents. Masoud Shafiee was then sent to Evin Prison for questioning for several hour, and eventually was released. On October 2, 2011, Agence France-Presse reported that Shafiee had been boarding a flight to visit a daughter, with plans to visit the grave site of his sister who died while he was representing the hikers, and he was unable to travel to see her in her last days of life. Shafiee did have concerns whether he would be barred from leaving, after his September arrest. While leaving the country on the aforementioned trip, after having his passport stamped, by order of the judiciary, his passport was confiscated as he boarded the plane. The news source told Agence France-Presse that Shafii “could not proceed to his final destination which was the United States.”


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