A former Iranian president has said exporting violence to other countries is “treason” against Islam and Iran’s 1979 revolution, an apparent accusation that the country’s hard-line rulers are engineering unrest abroad.
Mohammed Khatami, a reformist and popular intellectual, made no mention of US and Iraqi accusations that Iran is arming and training Shiite extremists in neighboring Iraq. But he said Iran should avoid actions that give it a bad image.
Engineering violence in other countries would be contrary to the goals of the 1979 Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khatami said.
“What did Imam [Khomeini] want and what did he mean by ‘exporting the revolution?’ Taking up arms and causing explosions in other countries and establishing groups to carry out sabotage in other countries? Imam was strongly opposed to these behaviors,” Khatami told students in northern Iran on Friday. “This is the biggest treason to Islam and the revolution.”
Khatami’s remarks were published by the daily Kargozaran on Saturday and also posted on the Web site of www.baran.org.ir, a pro-democracy foundation he heads.
Iraqi and US officials accuse Iran of arming and training Shiite militias in Iraq but Tehran denies it. Senior Shiite Iraqi politicians are in Iran to confront authorities with evidence of Iran’s involvement.
Khatami was Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005. His program of democratic reforms failed after unelected hard-liners, backed by Supreme Leader Khamenei, blocked all reform legislation and stopped Khatami from making changes he had promised those who elected him.