Witness Statement of Shaykh Mohammad Kazem Khaqani
Shaykh Mohammad Kazem Khaqani is an Ahwazi Arab Shi’a cleric and religious scholar and the son of Ayatollah Mohammad al-Shobeir Khaqani, a highly influential cleric in Khuzestan during the Revolution of 1978-79.
In this witness statement, Khaqani discusses pivotal events during the Spring of 1979 which came to define the relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Ahwazi Arab population in the coming decades, including meetings between his father and Khomeini, the events of Black Wednesday in Khorramshahr, a raid on his family compound, and the subsequent seven-year exile of his father to Qom.
Name: Mohammad Kazem Shobeir Khaqani
Place of Birth: Susangerd, Iran
Date of Birth: June 5, 1954
Occupation: Cleric, Seminary lecturer
Interviewing Organization: Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC)
Date of Interview: September 25, 2012
Interviewer: IHRDC Staff
This statement was prepared pursuant to an interview with Mohammad Kazem Shobeir Khaqani. It was approved by Mohammad Kazem Shobeir Khaqani on December 29, 2014. There are 58 paragraphs in the statement.
The views and opinions of the witness expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.
1. My name is Mohammad Kazem Shobeir Khaqani. I am the son of Ayatollah Mohammad Taher Shobeir Khaqani. Before leaving Iran I taught subjects such as Islamic jurisprudence, usul al-fiqh, philosophy, and mysticism in religious schools. I continued to teach in Syria and Kuwait.
The First Days of the Revolution
2. On the first day of the Revolution, maybe an hour or two after its victory, when people were congratulating each other and were happy that the Revolution had taken place, some of the people came to our house and asked where my father was. We told them that he was inside.
3. They told us that the people had invaded the bazaar, the homes of the military personnel, police [stations], the provincial governor’s office, and essentially everywhere else [in the town of Khorramshahr, Khuzestan Province]. They told us that 25 to 30 individuals who had held positions in the Shah’s regime, including soldiers, police department employees, [military and police] officers and others were arrested. The people had lined up some of these individuals by the river so that they could behead them with knives. We were surprised. My father asked who those people were and added that he did not believe that a Muslim could do such a thing. They named those people.
4. The people whose names they mentioned were individuals who followed my father at congregational prayer, and they were known as pious and faithful persons. My father asked me to check if the story was true or not.
5. This happened on the day of revolution. It is not possible to say with much certainty who these people were and which classes they represented. They were from all social classes, such as traders, teachers, youth, bazaar merchants and others. All of them had gathered by the river as revolutionaries, and they wanted to take a revolutionary action by establishing a revolutionary court. When we got there, we saw that it was not just the youth, or just bazaar merchants or just the clergy. Various people, both Persians and Arabs, were there.
6. For two to three months we thought they had done these things arbitrarily and as a result of revolutionary fervor. We did not allow ourselves to think that they were in contact with Qom or Tehran. Later, however, it was proven to us that these individuals, whom we considered radicals, were in contact with the Islamic Republican Party in Qom and Tehran. Soon they took charge of affairs in Khorramshahr. They took over the provincial governor’s office, the police, military posts, revolutionary committees, masked militias and all other posts and offices.
7. We realized that there were weapons coming from Tehran and being handed to masked men were distributed by them. The individuals who came [to Khorramshahr] from Tehran or Qom as [revolutionary] judges would go to their homes and would socialize with them. So these individuals were not ordinary citizens.
8. One of these people, whom many may know, was Mr. Mohammad Jahan-Ara. The others who got important positions and were among these groups included [Ali] Shamkhani, the Forouzandeh brothers, and a person named Al-Boghbeish. I knew most people from Khorramshahr and Abadan. I knew them better than I knew people from Ahvaz.
9. During the first days of the revolution they arrested people without any justification. Rather, the arrests were made merely because someone worked for the SAVAK, the police, the provincial governor’s office, army, or on other pretexts. When we arrived [by the river], we saw that about forty to fifty people had been injured.
10. They had taken them to the bank of the river. We asked them what they wanted to do. They answered that they wanted to increase the people’s joy! They said that they were waiting for the number of the 40 or 50 people gathered there to reach one hundred, and at that point they wanted to behead them like sheep. I asked them who had ordered them to do that. They replied that they did not need an order and that those people [officials of the previous regime] had been criminals and they had committed many crimes during the Shah’s regime. They continued by saying that a criminal did not need to be tried before a judge or court; their crimes had been proven. I told them that Islam does not condone this type of action, and even if someone is one hundred percent guilty he or she should be taken to a court.
11. Sheikh Shobeir [Ayatollah Khaqani] was completely opposed to these actions. He stressed that a general amnesty, which was the measure taken by the Prophet Mohammad and Imam Ali, should be implemented.
Meeting with Ayatollah Khomeini Five Months after the Revolution
12. My father did not go to Qom [to meet with Khomeini] just because of Khorramshahr (Mohammareh) or Khuzestan (Arabistan); he went there because of the totality of the circumstances involving Iran and the revolution. My father questioned the entirety of the revolution. Why? Because everything was being done against the teachings of Islam. My father said, “We do not have concepts such as the velayat-e motlaq-e faqih.” He told Mr. Khomeini he wondered how he could appoint someone like Khalkhali to be the shari’a judge.
13. In this meeting, my father told Mr. Khomeini that Mr. [Ahmad] Madani [the provincial governor of the time] had a militaristic attitude. He asked Mr. Khomeini to replace Madani with a reasonable and pious politician with whom one can engage in a discussion.
14. Ayatollah Khomeini answered by telling him that my father was right, and that he did not doubt him on this issue. Khomeini stated that my father was a senior cleric, and that he did not doubt in anything he said, but he said that he did not have much of a choice because of a lack of qualified politicians.
15. When we returned to Khorramshahr we believed that Mr. Khomeini had accepted these objections. The last words of Ayatollah Khaqani to Ayatollah Khomeini were, “ Sir, I told you about all the issues and you accepted all of them and did not raise any objections. I will be here in Qom for three to four days, when I get to Khorramshahr, I will wait for three days to see if you act on your promises or not. If the promises are kept and I see that real changes have taken place and the revolutionary courts stop the executions, the confiscation of people’s property under different pretexts, and your chosen parliament really considers national and ethnic rights, and all the things I discussed with you will be implemented, then I will approve of this revolution as before. But otherwise, Mr. Khomeini, you should not wait for others to bring you any news of me. I tell you right here and not that if I go back to Khorramshahr and after four days see that your promises have not been implemented, I will go to the mosque pulpit and say that we had a revolution to overthrow a repressive dictatorship and implement a system based on Islamic justice, and not to have one dictatorship removed and replaced by another dictatorship that is affiliated with Islam.”
16. When my father finished his talks, Ayatollah Khomeini asked, “Are you finished?” My father replied yes. Mr. Khomeini asked if he could air his complaints and my father told him that he would not get upset and asked him to say whatever he wanted. Mr. Khomeini said, “Sir, some people have told me that you went to the pulpit in Imam Sadegh Mosque in Khorramshahr, which is your mosque, and after criticizing many things, you said that the revolution did not have anything to do with Islam, and that the revolution has been implemented to cause disrepute to Islam. You also said that the leaders of this revolution were stooges of the foreigners and colonial powers. This includes all of us. Did you say such things?”
17. Ayatollah Khaqani replied, “I am not one to say something and then deny it. Yes, and I would say it again, there are people at the leadership of this government and various centers [of power] who engage in practices which have nothing to do with Islamic shari’a. All of these actions, including the executions, confiscations of people’s properties, and nightly raids on people’s homes are taking place to cause terror. They attribute all these acts to Islam. I have contacted them numerous times and told them that these acts are incorrect, and that Islam is the religion of justice and compassion. But unfortunately I did not find a receptive ear during all this time, and I repeatedly told them that if you do not accept what I am saying, or if you do not know the Islamic religion, ask the people whom you believe in or whom you emulate. You will certainly reach the conclusion that these actions contradict the enlightened Islamic shari’a.” He continued, “I cannot stay silent against tarnishing Islam. Therefore, I say that these individuals, after all these warnings and advice, their insistence on illegitimate acts demonstrates that they, in whatever position they are, and whether they are in clerical garb or not, are definitely on a mission, led by foreigners, to tarnish Islam. But I have not said that all those who hold office in this government are in this category. ”
18. Mr. Khomeini replied, “You are one-hundred percent right and we will try to remove the corrupt individuals and the traitors with the help of one another.” I personally did not see any reaction from Mr. Khomeini which may have been an indication that he disagreed with what my father had said. For the historical record, I mention that my father was sitting regularly [cross-legged] and Mr. Khomeini was sitting in a kneeling position in front of him as a sign of respect.
19. As soon as my father started speaking he was angry and upset about the wrong deeds taking place in Iran in the name of Islam. Mr. Khomeini said, “Sir, you are one of the pillars of the revolution. Do not be upset. You are invaluable to us.” Mr. Khomeini was smiling during the entire meeting. He was not like this in most of his other meetings. In the meeting he had with my father Mr. Khomeini was trying to calm my father, and he used phrases such as “we will abide by what you order.” During the entire meeting I did not sense that there was anything going on behind the scenes. I can say that we returned to Khorramshahr with optimism that the promises would be kept.
Hostilities and Raid after Meeting with Ayatollah Khomeini
20. Four days after returning, my father went on the mosque pulpit and informed the people on what he had said to Mr. Khomeini. Afterwards, we felt that Khorramshahr had turned into an army base. Basij forces and army troops from different regions flooded to the city. You know that at the beginning of the revolution there was no such thing as Revolutionary Guards or Basij. They were mostly commandos, army or navy troops, police, gendarmerie, and the like. Many of those who entered Khorramshahr after the speech had come under the guise of Basij, [thinking that] some events have taken place in Khuzestan and they were there to serve Islam and carry out a religious duty.
21. To prove this, I should mention that when they invaded our house, they kept us at the Imam Sadegh mosque, which was my father’s mosque, for an entire day. The individuals who had attacked us had covered their faces. Since they were from Khorramshahr, Abadan or Ahvaz; they did not want to be recognized. We did not know these masked men. Their assault caused a number of deaths and injuries.
22. After the first night, during which they arrested a number of people in the mosque as counter-revolutionaries, they executed seven of them. I have never heard, anywhere or anytime in human history, of taking people out of a mosque and executing them after three or four hours.
23. They set up a court as a formality to create fear and terror in the region. The Revolutionary Court was set up in a high school in the vicinity of Khorramshahr Bridge, and they carried out the executions there.
24. On the day that the parliament discussed the issue of Dr. Madani’s tenure, some representatives stated that Dr. Madani was trying to set a stage by establishing spurious courts and blowing up oil pipelines in order to make a name for himself as a national hero, so that he could work his way towards the presidency. This is not what I am saying. It is something the Parliament said. In fact, this was one of their main accusations. Now, I do not know whether he was responsible for the raid on our house. But the actions that Dr. Madani took during this period, including the massacre of people and the events of the Black Wednesday, show that he was an indecent person.
25. The events leading to Black Wednesday started some days before and they were not limited to that particular Wednesday. The situation was getting more critical by the day. Two entities, which were named the Political Organization of the Arab People and the Cultural Center of the Arab People, were established. Countering these centers, which were Arab, there was a Persian Center also known as the Persian Youth of Iran. Later on [revolutionary] committees were set up as well. Then, Dr. Madani came to see my father and requested that he ask the Arab people in the region to close down the cultural center and the political center and hand over the premises to the government.
26. My father answered that he would agree if they promised to close the [Persian] center and some of the other places which had nationalistic titles, and instead strengthen the police, the army, and gendarmerie and state institutions. My father said that he would guarantee that Arabs would give up those places. He added, “If you want to take the centers in order to take back governmental properties, I have to say that those properties were not, in fact, state-owned in the first place. Rather, Reza Khan had taken them by force after gaining control of the region. Those properties belonged to the people. If, in your opinion, these individuals and the fact that some of them have weapons are detrimental to the unity of a town or that of Iran, you should dismantle the other centers and groups and disarm them. Then I will dismantle these groups and if someone has weapons, those weapons will be taken away as well so that no problem is caused. This way in the coming days Arabs will not say that we gave up what we had but those [Persian] centers are still in place.” Madani accepted and promised to dismantle all of them.
27. Madani left, and he had not done anything by the time he returned because those centers were comprised of individuals like Jahan-Ara and the Forouzandeh brothers, who were more powerful than Madani. Madani insisted again and my father gave him the same answer: “If the problem is weapons, dismantle the [Persian] center and other institutions, which are full of weapons, and I will then force Arabs to surrender their weapons.” My father meant the revolutionary committees, the [Persian] center, and the like, which were all armed.
28. A few days went by and nothing happened. The members of those centers, headed by the three Forouzandeh brothers and Jahan-Ara and the like continued their activities. Madani came back and again insisted on his request. My father told him that he had already told him the solution. Madani responded that he was under pressure by some of the clerics from Khorramshahr and Abadan, including Arab ones, who argued that if he did not shut down Arab People’s centers, the government would look weak. My father replied that he had offered a solution before, but to avoid bloodshed in the city, he would accept. My father said that he would send intermediaries and will talk to them. My father added that he was certain that they would accept his request and leave those sites, but they might rent other places and seek their rights under the government’s supervision, provided that they do not possess any weapons, even a single handgun.
29. My father spoke with Madani on Tuesday and guaranteed that the offices would be handed over on Thursday. Dr. Madani accepted. They signed a paper. There were a number of witnesses there too. This document was destroyed when [our residence] was raided.
30. The next day, on Wednesday, my father was informed that Dr. Madani, accompanied by the army and the like, is planning to attack Arab People’s centers at night. My father Khaqani handed the agreement to his brother, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Khaqani, and sent him to see Dr. Madani and ask if the news about the raid was true or not, and if so to learn why they attacked given that there was already an agreement. That night, Sheikh Isa Khaqani, along with a number of others, went to see Dr. Madani. Their meeting lasted two or three hours.
31. Sheikh Isa came back and said that Dr. Madani did not accept what he was telling him. Although he acknowledged that he had signed the agreement, but added that he had received an order from superior government officials, saying that if the premises [of the Cultural Center and Political Organization] were to be evacuated on Thursday by my father’s command, then the government would not be perceived as strong by the people. Therefore, [Madani had been told,] show force now that you can and finish this job.
32. Sheikh Isa said that he had insisted that this action was incorrect. He had also told [Madani] that the so-called clerics who were his superiors would not give these orders if they were clerics or human beings. Killing human beings, bloodshed, oppression and criminality are inhuman and against what the clergy stands for.
33. Sheikh Isa said that finally Madani agreed to be faithful to the agreement and confirmed that they would not attack the premises and would wait until they would be evacuated on Thursday. My father thanked God for this relief and said that there was nothing to worry about.
34. After one or two hours we could hear that the assault had begun all around us. Machine-gun fire could be heard everywhere. It was as if Khorramshahr had turned into a military base.
35. The hostilities started. My father asked about what had happened. We inquired and called everywhere and heard that they had attacked those two places that very night, which later came to be known as the Black Wednesday. This meant that they did not even wait one day after signing the agreement.
36. On Tuesday, when signing the agreement, my father had said turned to Madani and said, “As a Shi’a marja’ I tell you that for the sake of the people’s interest and to prevent bloodshed not make the matters worse. The premises will be handed over Thursday morning.” But unfortunately they attacked. Therefore I cannot say that Madani was a good person.
37. The late Ayatollah Khaqani had predicted that a raid would take place, but in the long term. Because during the months that Dr. Madani was there one did not expect this given his behavior. He gave promises regarding many issues, but he did not keep them.
38. That night, near Khorramshahr Bridge, there was a meeting at the home of one of the pro-government Arab tribal sheikhs. Many tribal and community leaders were invited to that meeting. This meeting was led by Captain Khoshnam, the head of Navy detachment in Khorramshahr.
39. That meeting lasted until the call for morning prayers. The aim of the meeting was to gather Arabs and other groups who disagreed with the government. Dr. Madani’s plan was to confine them before they could do anything. Then, they wanted to surround Ayatollah Khaqani’s house and disconnect communication between Khorramshahr and [the outlying primarily Arab neighborhood of] Kout al-Sheikh.
40. The communication between Khorramshahr and Abadan as well as the communication between Khorramshahr and Kout al-Sheikh was cut off that night. The road between Khorramshahr and Ahvaz had been closed. These events indicate that Dr. Madani intended to kill everyone that night, and that his actions were not mistakes. This incident continued for three days and many people in Khorramshahr were murdered. One could say that tens or maybe hundreds of people were killed or injured.
41. After three or four days, Madani sent some people to my father and told him that he had made a mistake. He came and said that he had been deceived. He said he was deceived by Arab clergy and the local clergy in Khorramshahr, Abadan and Ahvaz, and that they were the ones who had insisted that Madani should go forward with the assault. He claimed he knew the decision was wrong and in Islam one could be forgiven, and that he was seeking forgiveness. My father replied, “This is not a personal issue between you and me. You are apologizing to me but it is not a matter of my personal right. Who will be accountable for the blood that has been shed? Who will be accountable to the poor survivors, widowed women, and the orphaned children? How about what you did? What about the fear and terror you caused in the city?”
42. Most people do not know that Madani came to my father for forgiveness. Madani said that he was sorry and apologized on behalf of himself and Mr. Bazargan and everyone else. He requested a solution from my father. My father replied, “If you are seeking a solution and you are honest, try everyone who attacked the people and participated in the massacre and plundered the [properties of] people. But not in your courts because I do not recognize your courts. Shari’a judges are real judges, and not [the ones serving in the courts] supervised by Sattarian, Khalkhali and criminals like them. I should run the courts. I will not become a judge, but I know judges. They should serve as judges. They are versed in jurisprudence. Female survivors and survivors under the age of 18 should be provided with a monthly allowance by the government. The government should publicly admit to its mistake and state that the people were not traitors, that the people were not bad. All of these should be broadcast in Iran’s radio stations. I am not willing to have you sit in my home and have a personal discussion with me after you have publicly killed the people. I do not need someone to kiss my hand.”
43. All of this was written down and Dr. Madani signed that they were ready to try everybody who was involved in the killings, etc. He agreed to whatever my father said. They wanted to show that they did not have ill will, but later my father’s house was raided.
44. I was personally familiar with most of the people who were killed on Black Wednesday. One of them was my father’s driver. His name was Abbas. He was injured on that day. Everyone saw that he was recovering. Then, they went to the hospital and executed him with two bullets [note: details regarding the alleged perpetrators are unavailable].
45. As a result of this and similar incidents many injured persons did not go to the hospital because they were afraid.
46. Those days the leaders were Dr. Madani, Mr. Jahan-Ara and the Forouzandeh brothers. I only saw Mr. Naser Jabarouti [the future head of the IRGC in Khorramshahr] once. I did not know him. It should be noted that he was involved in the raid against our home and not in Black Wednesday.
47. Abbas, the driver, was the son of someone named Hossein; I cannot remember his family name. He was among the Arabs of Khorramshahr, and he was from the Kout al-Sheikh neighborhood. I do not know the exact names of the people who were killed or injured on that day. Thirty-three years have passed.
Raid on the Khaqani Family Compound
48. A few days after he gave the speech [denouncing Khomeini], my father’s house, mosque and school were attacked. [Afterwards] they exiled us to Qom, where we were forced to stay for seven years. My father was 69 years old at that time. I was 24 years old.
49. [A group of members of a local revolutionary committee] attacked our house, my father’s school, and his mosque about half an hour before the call for noon prayers. They attacked us from every direction. Some were using weapons typically used for hitting planes to hit the mosque. They fired at the mosque from the top of their army jeeps. There were many injured people. I cannot tell you their names because it could cause trouble for them or their families.
50. They took all of us to the mosque. There were about 50 to 60 other people there who had come from surrounding areas for a different event. They were getting ready for noon prayers. They arrested everyone and kept us at my father’s mosque, which was named the Imam Sadegh Mosque. After evening and night prayers, Mr. Nasser Jabarouti told us that my father and I were to stay in the mosque and that all of the family [including] women and children should be taken to the Revolutionary Court. They took all of the children, our family, my mother and sisters, my wife and my three-month old daughter to the high school near the Khorramshahr Bridge, which had been transformed into a revolutionary courthouse.
51. Nasser Jabarouti came back. He apologized to me and told me that he had received an order from Imam [Khomeini] to send me to the Revolutionary Court as well. I told him that I would inform my father and then I would come with him. I said to my father, “Mr. Jabarouti is here, and he is saying that he has an order to take me from here as well.” I told my father that he would be left alone there. My father said, “Call Mr. Nasser so that I can see who has issued this order.” I called Mr. Jabarouti. My father said, “You have taken all the women and children to the Revolutionary Court and said that I may need my son by my side for ablutions and other needs. Now you are saying that there is another order to take my son to the Revolutionary Court? Who has issued this order?” Jabarouti laughed and said, “Sir, how can you ask me who has issued this order? I told you that I have received my orders regarding you from Imam Khomeini.”
52. Jabarouti went and came back after twenty minutes. He said he spoke to Mr. Khomeini who said it was fine for me to stay with my father. My father and I stayed at the mosque. We were the only ones left. The rest were Revolutionary Guards, military personnel, commandos and the like.
53. I should mention this unfortunate matter for the historical record. When my father was saying his noon and evening prayers, the Revolutionary Guards and commandos surrounded him. They would walk around and say that his prayers would not be accepted, and that the Khawarij at Nahrawan also said their prayers. Religious scholars had never seen such insults as a person [who represents] a government, which is known as a Shi’a government, telling a marja’ that the Khawarij at Nahrawan also said their prayers.
54. Mr. Jabarouti came back at midnight for the third time. He told me that Imam Khomeini had called and ordered them to return all of our family members to their homes. After one or two hours everyone was back home.
55. My wife, who is here [in London] now, said that when they started the executions some of the girls thought those being executed were their family members, and they fainted. This shows how they were under immense psychological pressure. I should note that they did not force our families to watch the executions. However, they used force and beatings to take the rest to the school courtyard, and they forced some of [the people there] to witness the executions of their relatives. They had beaten the prisoners so much that they did not say a word. All of this was done to sow fear and terror among the people.
Exile to Ahvaz and House Arrest in Qom
56. [First] they took us to Ahvaz. We were there for three or four days, and then they transferred us to one of the military airports in Tehran on a military plane. Afterwards they sent us to Qom on two helicopters.
57. When we arrived in Qom, Ahmad Khomeini [Ayatollah Khomeini’s son, who was influential in the early years of the Revolution] said to my father, “You are a valuable gem. The Imam sends his regards. The Imam told us to tell you that you should not think he wanted you to be kept out of Khorramshahr. He said that your place is in Najaf or Qom. We realized that some communists wanted to kill you, so we brought you here so that they would not take advantage of the situation and, God forbid, kill you and make it appear that the Islamic Republic was behind it. We brought you here for this reason, and also because we wanted the seminaries to benefit from your immense knowledge and valuable character.”
58. Madani has a militaristic and nationalistic attitude. He did so many [bad] things that the government itself even admitted that he had been a traitor. The parliament identified Dr. Madani as a traitor tied to the United States. They wanted to try him in court but he fled. So we are not the only ones who accuse Dr. Madani. The Islamic Republic’s government charged him with twenty-one accounts under five major categories. This is available in the Iranian parliament’s archive.
 Usul al-Fiqh, literally translated as roots of law, refers to the principles and investigative tools through which Islamic laws are derived. For further information, see http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e2444#.
 Formed in 1957, the National Intelligence and Security Organization (SAVAK), was the secret police of the Shah’s government. SAVAK routinely monitored, arrested and tortured dissidents.
 Velayat-e Motlagheh-ye Faghih, or the Supreme Guardianship of the Jurist, is the term used to describe the concept that a senior cleric is to lead Iran’s Islamic government. Article 57 of the Iranian Constitution states, “The powers of government in the Islamic Republic are vested in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive powers, functioning under the supervision of the absolute wilayat al-'amr and the leadership of the Ummah, in accordance with the forthcoming articles of this Constitution. These powers are independent of each other.” For more information see http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/293359/Iran/230055/Velayat-e-faqih#ref783951
 The term Revolutionary Guards refers to the members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which was founded in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The IRGC was tasked with protecting the revolution from internal and external threats, and it fought in the Iran-Iraq war alongside Iran’s regular army. After the war the IRGC took a critical role in Iran’s economy, and today it controls many strategic industries in the country. For more information, see http://www.cfr.org/iran/irans-revolutionary-guards/p14324. Basij is a paramilitary volunteer militia formed during the Iran-Iraq war, and it actively participated in the eight-year war. Today Basij members serve as morality police, and they also take part in suppressing anti-government demonstrations such as the 2009 post-election protests. For more information see http://www.rferl.org/content/Irans_Basij_Force_Mainstay_Of_Domestic_Security/1357081.html
 The Cultural Center of the Arab People and Political Organization of the Arab People were founded during the Revolutionary era and had significant influence with the local Arab population in Khuzestan. See http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/1000000528-a-framework-of-violence-repression-of-the-arab-ethnic-minority-in-the-islamic-republic-of-iran.html, Section 1.2.
 The term Khawarij refers to a group of Ali’s followers who rebelled against him during his caliphate. Ali defeated the Khawarij army at the Battle of Nahrawan in 658 A.D. However, Ali was eventually assassinated by them. Given Ali’s status as the Prophet Mohammad’s rightful successor among Shi’a Muslims, referring to a devout Shi’a as a member of Khawarij could be seen as a serious offense. For more information on Khawarij see http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/316391/Kharijite.