WASHINGTON, DC – Authorities in Iran arrested Hussein al-Shirazi, the son of the famous Iranian Shiite Ayatollah Sadiq al-Shirazi, in the holy city of Qom last weekend after he described Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “the pharaoh.” And Imam Mohammad Tawhidi tells Breitbart News that “Khamenei is afraid of the ayatollahs” opposed to him.
Tawhidi, known as the “Imam of Peace,” is an Iran-born, Australia-based public figure and Muslim faith leader of Iraqi origin. He studied with Shirazi and received his Islamic education from the Islamic Seminaries of the Holy Cities of Qom, Iran, and Karbala, Iraq. He promotes gender equality, the separation of politics and religion, and has established himself as prominent voice against Islamic terrorism.
He says that Shirazi’s arrest warrants a deeper look into the divisions between the ruling Islamic class in Iran, and the majority of other imams and religious leaders there — particularly in Qom — who oppose the current government and Khamenei.
“The fact that there are ayatollahs against him shapes [Khamenei’s] regime,” he told Breitbart News this week.
“Of course he’s losing his power. He can’t even control the women who don’t want to wear the hijab anymore, so how can he control the grand jurisdictions?”
Tawhidi said Shirazi has millions of followers in Iran. “He was my teacher in Qom between 2011-2013 in his own school called Rasool Atham,” Tawhidi said. “They’re now going after his main guys, who own TV stations.”
Tawhidi warned, “If anything happens to him [Shirazi], Khamenei is going down, literally. His followers are very ruthless and will start going after embassies and do anything to take down the regime.
“I know him on a very personal level. He’s helped me a lot in my life. He’s taken care of many things, like when the Iranian regime wanted to crack down on me — he used to defend me against those thugs,” Tawhidi added.
Tawhidi said that Shirazi defended him even though “he knows me as someone with reformist ideas.” He added that while they disagree on many things, they are both “against Islamic theocracies and dictatorship.”
He said, “I’m not his follower, but I’m his student, and there are millions of Islamic religious Muslim Iranians who are religious and Muslim leaders who are against the Iranian regime.
“The regime is painting a false picture that everyone is with them and are on their side. But the world must see that there are a large number of ayatollahs who are against the regime. And this will taint their credibility.”
According to Tawhidi, Shirazi “is very much against velayat-e-faqih,” which is the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist or Islamic governance. “He’s been against them since the beginning of the revolution” of 1979, which replaced Iran’s last shah with Islamic hardliner Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini.
Shirazi’s father is Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Sadiq al-Husseini al-Shirazi. And his grandfather is Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi, the man who issued the infamous fatwa against tobacco use in December 1891, sparking what is known as the Persian Tobacco Protest (nehzat-e-tanbāku).
Tawhidi tweeted about Shirazi’s arrest writing, “Supreme inbred leader of Iran has detained my former teacher, Hussain Shirazi a few hours ago. *We don’t share the same belief system*, but it doesn’t mean that you detain whoever disagrees with your terrorist gov. This man embraced me when the thug Mullahs came after me yrs ago.”
Tawhidi said Shirazi’s latest arrest was “because, during the Iranian protest, he criticized the regime for beating people up. What Iran is doing now is, they are taking control over the protests and going after everyone that contributed to the unrest; whether it be scholars, imams, etc.”
He added, “This is probably the 15th time he’s been detained in just two years. This is why there’s a belief that this could be his last time. They could just take him and say ‘that’s it.’ Why would you release a man who you’ve taken all this time and has proven to be a proper enemy?
“It’s highly unlikely he’ll ever come out. And he’s in need of medical attention,” Tawhidi said.
He also commented on protests by women in Iran, who have been removing their hijabs and waving them on sticks to protest compulsory dress codes. Internationally, women have taken to social media, showing videos of themselves burning their hijabs in solidarity with Iranian women.
Last Friday, police in Tehran reportedly arrested 29 women for appearing in public without a headscarf. “If these women were irrelevant, these clerics wouldn’t be doing the counter-protest against them,” Tawhidi said. “This shows that what these women are doing is really serious and is affecting their government and relevance.”
Tawhidi also noted that Khamenei is sensitive to personal criticism. “Khamenei sees if you criticize his ugly face as a threat to his government. He’s very sensitive about everything and anything. You can’t even say he doesn’t look nice.
“I dare anyone to go in the streets of Iran and say Khamenei’s beard is ugly. They’ll be thrown in prison,” Tawhidi said. “Ridicule him. That’s the best to get to him. He’s very sensitive to criticism.”