Friday, 3 July 2009

Ahmadinejad-Mousavi pre-'election' debate

The below is a transcript of the pre-‘election’ debate that took place between Mahmood Ahmadinejad and Mir-Hossein Mousavi on Iranian state TV. We are publishing this to show how both men are pillars of the Islamic regime of Iran. Mr. Mousavi was prime minister during the notorious 80s when thousands were executed.


Presenter: The presenter gives his greetings and condolences for the anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s death and announces that this is a televised debate between presidential hopefuls Mahmood Ahmadinejad and Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

He then welcomes and greets both. He asks them to have a few words with viewers. Mr. Ahamdinejad …

Ahmadinejad: Does it mean it’s my turn to talk or…

Presenter: This is for any greeting.

Ahmadinejad: Greetings to the great nation of Iran. My condolences for the anniversary of Imam’s [Khomeini] death and I wish everyone prosperity.

Presenter: Thank you very much. Mr. Mousavi…

Mousavi: I too greet you Iranians and I’m happy to be with you again via this media. I extend my condolences to you all for the anniversary of Imam’s death; to whom we owe our dignity and honour.

Presenter: Before I introduce the questions I need to explain something. As the outset, you will each have 10 minutes to present your comments and then we continue with the rest of the debate. There are 40 minutes dedicated for each person. We drew lots prior to the debate, Mr. Ahmadinejad initiates the debate and Mr. Mousavi ends it.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, everyone may have certain individual or social concerns. What are your main concerns for running for presidency?

Ahmadinejad: In the name of God [here he quotes some verses of the Koran]. Initially, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve the nation of Iran for one term and I appreciate the nation’s support and backing. I hope Iranians will always keep their dignity. We owe everything to the memory of our dear Imam, the great martyrs and war disabled.

The election is very important. The election in our country is not about electing a single person but it is the nation being energized in order to make leaps towards conquering peaks of glory and progress. The election climate needs to be one of zeal and excitement. The election environment needs to be full of logic, friendship, and brotherhood.

At the beginning, I want to complain about the unjustified and cruel sabotaging and lies propagated against the government. In the history of the Islamic revolution we have never had such heavy attacks against the government. I think the reason is that the friends who have stepped in to the stage thought they could not compete with the government constructively, especially in the area of extensive services provided by this government that have been unprecedented – in any sector we have entered, This has been the case in comparison to preceding ones, although they have also provided valuable services. But the performance of this government has been tantamount to several governments. On the international level, unfortunately, the great success of the people has been ignored. They ignored the government’s services completely. I wish that instead of so much negative propaganda, they would put forward a plan. Unfortunately, in the electoral campaign, the great people of Iran were insulted. I deeply regret this. Why should we disappoint people with ourselves? Why should we be so infatuated with power? I personally am not keen on touching on such issues. I tolerated this for four years, and I forgave any and all insults and offences that were targeted towards me. And I forgive them now as well. I have repeatedly said that I have forgiven them all. But I can’t forgive the people and their choice, intelligence, and dignity being insulted.

When I meet with people in different cities and from different walks of life, they ask me to defend them. I must tell people the root cause of these deceptions. I had promised to tell them. My belief is that it is not only Mr. Mousavi who is opposing me; it is 3 consecutive governments. They are Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Hashami and Mr. Khatami. In the past Mr. Mousavi supported Khatami and he supported Rafsanjani. Also, Mr. Khatami supported Mr. Rafsanjani. In principle, they are all together. Since the first day that this government formed there were attacks on the government. People know this very well. But youth need to know this as well. I am not opposing one candidate. I’m facing a group, coordinated by Mr. Hashami, and with the cooperation of Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Khatami. The reason for the pressure on me during the past 4 years and ever more pressures during the election comes down to one thing. In the [previous] 3 governments the administrative structure, managerial chains were established that distanced themselves from the values of the Islamic revolution. This is not to say that no services were rendered. But gradually a trend was formed that saw itself as the owner of the nation, owner of the revolution, and people’s commander. It saw itself as having an open hand to manipulate things. They lined up in the last election but the nation defeated them. In the past four years they tried to render the government unsuccessful and to break it. But with the blessing of God and people’s support we managed to come forward this far. In the last election, my rival was supported and helped from inside and outside [the country]. At the beginning of my government Mr. Hashami sent a message to one of the countries in the Persian Gulf stating that “you don’t need to worry; this government would collapse within six months.” But then some people went there and explained it and it was resolved to some extent. It clearly indicated an extensive plan against this government while this government, serving people, in a short period of 4 years secured glorious achievements internally and internationally, that was of course the job of the nation themselves. We are seeing that people are flourishing, in science, in technology, in politics, and especially in foreign policy. Iranians are respected today and amongst the most respected. But all of this is ignored and [the government] is facing insults and lies, especially in the past three months.

I like Mr. Mousavi and have always respected him but what has been happening in these three months is not justifiable. Mr. Mousavi, we don’t need to have an actor on a bus in order to realise there are problems. There is addiction. In the course of a few trips you made you have realized that the country faces certain problems. Did these problems appear in the last 4 years? How about [the past] 24 years? Are you suggesting that you have handed me a utopia and I ruined it and nothing positive has been done! It is just now that we know that companies have problems; it is just now that is obvious that there is unemployment. You have been in 4 cities, 4 provinces. I have seen all of Iran. If I want to dedicate the whole debate to the problems people are facing, we’ll be short of time. Is it just now that it is obvious? Didn’t we have unemployment in the past, or drug addiction? Didn’t factories have problems; didn’t we have financial and agricultural issues? Wasn’t there any industrial issue? I wish. I wish you introduced a platform…

Presenter: Time’s up Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad: Just one more sentence. I was saying this as a joke somewhere that it’s good that I’m a candidate too or else what would these 3 other candidates have to say? And let me say this, in this competition, it is not a competition between four candidates but there are 3 against one. Even last night’s debate wasn’t a debate. It was against one person. In my opinion, it is illogical; we must work based on justice and logic.

Presenter: Thank you. Mr. Mir-Hussein Mousavi, please go ahead.

Mousavi: In the name of God, the compassionate and merciful. I thank all viewers and the good points made, which I will discuss in a methodical way. First, I wish Mr. Ahmadinejad had been successful in his endeavors and that I didn’t need to enter this race. I’ll make a couple of remarks and then speak of some main points. Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Khatami are great figures and they can have their own debate with Mr. Ahmadinejad and respond to him. I have some difficulties with the government I entered this scene because of a danger that I will talk about later. I will not touch on Mr. Rafsanjani or Mr. Khatami’s terms. 4 years out of the 24 years he talked about relates to me and that was during the Imam’s [Khomeini’s] era. If necessary I will explain it. I always loved Iran and I think this is common among Iranians. I don’t think that there is any Iranian who is not proud and is not concerned about the future of Iran. Everyone wants to see a great and proud Iran. We all want Iran to be prosperous and play a role as the first power in the region in all areas of science and economics, that it was respected and be a role model for the world. We essentially revolted for this very reason. The revolution was because we wanted Iran to be great, an Islamic Iran to be great, to be influential. And that it would be influential and have an impact and import its message to the world. However, in resolving the issues that the county faces, and in order to get Iran to its true position, I feel that we have two options, two different managements. One is on the basis of adverturism, instability, exhibitionism, dream-like and superstitious, untruthful and non-transparent, self-centered and not abiding by the law, shallow, and going to extremes. I will pursue my discussions within this framework. The other approach to the issues is based on dignity, logical and professional behavior, reality-based and superstitious-free, transparency and honesty, law and common sense, long-term vision, and moderate. If we want a powerful Iran I think the latter approach is more suitable, that is, we practice based on that.

Now, there are discussions and programs and I believe I have 3 debates that people are interested in and I look at them as complimentary. As opposed to Mr. Ahmadinejad I believe these are opportunities that I can gradually present my programs and my point of view. The main point I want to say in this meeting is my motivation for coming to fore. Frankly, I felt a danger for the future of the country with the current administration. And since the discussion started off with the foreign policy, I’ll directly address it and later on about the economical, cultural, and social issues. I will present my discussion on a case by case basis so that our people can follow. I won’t talk in general. I’ll mention examples. One of our issues is the disproportional rhetoric with our practices. Our rhetoric is mythological and dream-like about the future of the world. Things like ‘that country is on the verge of collapse’, ‘this civilization is vanishing’ or that we are managing the world and likewise. In my opinion, there is nothing practical to back these up. There are a few examples. The British navy violated our territory. Our forces arrested them; it was a great job and they must be acknowledged. But immediately on the framework I mentioned, we first said they must be executed. Why did they come to our land? We created a international crisis. But then we decided to dress them up in suits and our president, whose position does not belong to him, it belongs to you people, went to see them off via a ceremony that we hardly arrange for the heads of other countries. Did it preserve the dignity of our nation? I think not. It was damaging. It also put our foreign policy in a difficult position for which we will have to pay dearly.

The other example is when he went to Iraq. Without any clear evidence he stated that ‘they want to kidnap me’. It creates expenses. If they want to kidnap you – probably the Americans – they were paying for the fuel of the plane you were flying in. And then in Iraq we went to a region under US control, we arranged our meeting there, and then we took photos with American soldiers and we returned home. The same happened in Italy. We again said that they want to kidnap us. I ask that if we should expand our illusions to influence foreign policy, which is within the realm of our national interests. Is this going to resolve our problems or add to it and inflict heavy expenses? And next is the issue of Saudi Arabia. It was said repeatedly, and I heard it from others. I used to have a position in the government in the past [prime minister during Khomeini’s era]. It is very important how you are invited to visit another country. We keep sending messages, asking them to invite us with all our friends in the foreign ministry. I have a quote from Mr. Malek Abdullah about our request to be invited. Now that we have gone there, we need to have a result after a few trips which. Now do we have a better or a worse relation? Then we returned, talked against the [Saudi] foreign ministry. And we caused a lot of problems for our country by putting [the royal] family against us. We say why should we create these costs? On whose account are we doing this? Are these effective? Or not…

Then, we stated many times that the US is collapsing. If so, why did we travel there four times? Why did we write two letters? Why we are looking to reestablish relations with the US, especially in a peculiar way, asking the Switzerland president to tell Obama to somehow resolve the issues between Iran and US before the election or at least starting the negotiations? Is this really beneficial to our country, to us? I’m going through these quickly as the headings regarding the foreign policy. In face, we have damaged our nation’s pride in foreign policy and disrespected our country, have caused difficulties in the internal development of our country and have created tensions with other countries.

Presenter: Mr. Mousavi your time is over.

Mousavi: I need another minute. Deduct it from my total minutes like the way you did last night [in the last debate].

Presenter: Right. But the opening was supposed to be 10 minutes only. If you could make it brief.

Mousavi: I will make it brief. The holocaust is another issue. We mentioned about holocaust. And after we caused some damages, UN passed a resolution so that it is now criminal to say anything against the holocaust. And then that Switzerland event happened. I wouldn’t believe if I had not seen with my own eyes that our president is humiliated so much. Presidents are symbols of our nation, country. He shouldn’t be content with that. In my next round I will tell a memory about the Imam [Khomeini] and how sensitive he was about our respect. Later on we described this [holocaust issue] as an epic. What epic was that other than they passed another resolution! Europe’s relations had deteriorated with Israel because of the massacres in Gaza. Because of these pronouncements, Europe backed Israel. Where could we safeguard our interests in the world? Now that you say my time is over I’ll continue my discussion later

Presenter: Thank you. Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad: Thank you very much Mr. Mousavi. I think you need to seriously reconsider if all your judgments are based on these evidences. I’m telling you this as a friend. I like you. It’s very bad to judge based on misinformation. The British sailors were arrested. The event escalated. Mr. Blaire apologized in writing and said that we will change our policies with Iran. This document is currently in the foreign ministry. I think one of the best things the Islamic Republic has done was our treatment of them. For that past 27-28 years, including Mr. Mousavi’s era, they called us anti human, aggressors, and hostage takers. That is what they told the world about us. What we did was to distinguish the people of England from its government. In my opinion, that was the best thing to do. Regarding Saudi Arabia and as opposed to Mr. Mousavi (I don’t know how he has obtained the information): King Abdullah had previously, last year, asked me to go Mecca at the gatherings of Islamic heads. [At that time] I said no, I didn’t have time for it because I had just started with my government. When I went to the Opec Summit Mr. Malek Abdullah spontaneously asked me “Would you come to Mecca if I invite you?” I said I would and the invitation was only for Haj. It wasn’t a political trip as such; Mr. Mousavi should see the footage. When we entered the place what a wave was created among Muslims. What speeches, demonstrations, screams, and the declarations of appreciations were delivered to people of Iran. Regarding the holocaust, it is very interesting. How was Mr. Mousavi’s relation with this very Saudi Arabia and how is our relation now? I don’t want to talk about what happened at the airport. Suffice it to say that our relation with them was disrupted, that is, Mr. Mousavi’s performance was such that the relation with Saudi Arabia was severed altogether. I’m now surprised that he is concerned about our relation with Saudi Arabia. Yes, we too are concerned. Who would frequently write articles, and harshly criticise? Some who work in Mr Mousavi’s election campaign never believed such things.

Regarding the occupied Palestine, it is better that Mr. Mousavi remind himself about his own position in the past. Mr. Mousavi declared explicitly that we would send military forces to fight against the occupiers side by side with the Palestinian resistance. He declared that the Zionist regime must be wiped out. Mr. Mousavi, if we want to get into these details and discuss our tactics we’ll be derailed from our path. The general diplomacy is the most advanced and scientific diplomacy nowadays. When the enemy has the main positions in the world, we will be defeated if we are play in its field. It happened in Mr. Rafsanjani’s era and you supported it. It happened in Khatami’s era. You supported it. We have approached the field in a different way than what it was formulated by the superpowers, and that is what the Imam [Khomeini] taught us. The Imam never accepted their formulas. If we went along with those we would never have had a revolution. Regarding the nuclear issue, you are certainly aware of it. The approach used by the previous government, the so called tension removal, was stretched to the point that our nuclear establishment was shut down altogether. Two contracts were imposed upon our nation, one without having been passed by the Majlis and in opposition to our constitution. The second was “Executive Arrangements”. As per the first, International Atomic Energy staff are permitted to inspect anywhere in Iran at any time. What’s the point of this? The goal is to identify our defense capability and pass it on to the enemy. In the “Executive Arrangement” there is paragraph that says that any thought or plan that comes to the mind of our scientists about nuclear development must be reported to the agency staff first. There can’t be any heavier imposition upon our nation while according to NPT we could do any activity; we need to inform [the agency] 180 days prior to enriching. Facilities were shut down, the heaviest delays, two contracts were accepted. At within that time, Mr. Mousavi, I’m saying this for your information, seven resolutions was issued against us while the retreat was absolute. The resolution of IAEA’s Board of Governors is legally much more important than those of the Security Council. Resolutions of the Security Council are political and have no legal implication. But the resolutions of the Board of Governors are legal. They require us to act. All the claims of IAEA, under six topics, were solved in this administration and we have a letter from the agency telling us that the fundamental issues have been solved. In the middle of all this, Americans came up with a new claim and that is what they are pursuing and we have never recognized this claim of theirs.

Mr. Mousavi. What happened in Sadabad, Paris, and Brussels? Today we have become nuclear. Go read the minutes to see for only three centrifuges how much appealing we used to do! Today more than 7000 centrifuges are active. It was after all the cooperation in Afghanistan and in the nuclear issue that Mr. Bush declared Iran to be part of an axis of evil. I am really surprised. Wasn’t our dignity hurt here? This was when Iran was threatened with military attack.

How about now? The same Mr. Bush, in the final days of his government, declared that they aren’t after regime change in Iran and Mr. Obama did the same. 27 years, in your, Mr. Rafsanjani’s and Mr. Khatami’s administrations, the US was after overthrowing our regime. Today they openly declare they aren’t after overthrowing us. Which foreign policy has been successful and which has brought indignity to us? Which foreign policy saved our independence and which gave concessions and was without any achievement? For 15 years, Europeans told us that they want a critical talk with Iran. Day after day they were talking about Iran not respecting human rights. I asked only two questions on the subject of the holocaust. These two questioned the entire human rights machinery of the West. They are shouting! Israelis and Westerners are shouting. And our friends here are claiming our dignity was hurt. How come? We shouldn’t wait for the enemy to come to our door to face it. Today, threats against Iran are finished.

All these, of course, is done with the struggle of our great nation, the persistence of our great nation, the sacrifices of our great nation and our dear supreme leader and the kindness of the 12th Imam. I am really surprised.

Mr. Mousavi should take a trip outside of Iran to see how he would be welcomed by states and nations. In his own administration, how many foreign trips did he make? When were we ashamed, now or back then? I don’t want to say we were ashamed back then. We were respected at that time, too. Just not in the eyes of great powers. If Mr. Mousavi believes that we should try to satisfy a few foreign the powers, Well this is just in contradiction with what Imam Khomeini thought and with the Iranian logic and our independence. But if you look at our relation with the vast masses of nations and states, in four years, more than 60 heads of states have visited Iran. This is unprecedented. Who could say we are not respected? Everybody came to support us. 118 members of Non-Aligned Movement supported us.

Now, I have to say something. Mr. Mousavi. I actually like you. But you are saying that you are worried. I have some questions for you. In Mr. Rafsanjani’s time inflation rose up to 49.5 percent, we had 49 billion dollars of foreign debt, social crises overwhelmed many of our large cities, and many were killed. How come you weren’t worried back then? When Mr. Clinton declared that any company with an oil contract valued more than 20 million dollars with Iran would be sanctioned and inflation shot up to 49.5 percent, how come you weren’t worried? In July 1999 when the movement for overthrowing the regime wanted to conquer Tehran to move toward the centre of the government, when they openly issued their declaration and were supported from outside and, as they said themselves, wanted to stage a velvet revolution, how come you weren’t worried? When they staged a sit-in in the Sixth Parliament, and directly contacted American Congress for help, how come you weren’t worried?

Today you are asking me why I talked about the holocaust. I am asking you, why shouldn’t we talk about the holocaust? Should we just wait for Europeans to come and talk about our human rights? Or should we tell them that they don’t have freedom and they are engaging in colonialism and that they are shutting nations up.

The foreign policy of this government comes from people, from the Imam Khomeini’s line and that’s why it is dignifying. Look and see how the world is on Iran’s side right now. How come they retreated? Today the Iranian nuclear question has lost its salience. There was a day when they talked about the “red line” of Security Council. Well Security Council did what it could. What did they do? They sanctioned us. What can they do now? Is it even possible to stand against the arrogant with weakness? It was in this very city, Tehran, that they wrote articles saying the time of Imam Khomeini has passed. You were silent back then. The government of the time supported that writer. You were silent. And now you are saying that we have been misled from Imam Khomeini’s way and that you have become worried.

I like you, Mr. Mousavi. But I can’t forgo the unfounded accusations against the nation. I can’t forgo the insults against the nation.

Mousavi: Speaking of Imam Khomeini’s line, I want to tell you a memory of Imam Khomeini. There was a time when Israelis attacked Southern Lebanon and in our country everybody thought that we should send our forces to drive Israelis out and fight side by side with the Lebanese. Everybody agreed. Martyr Hemmat was to be the chief of the divisions sent. They even sent some initial forces for the Lebanese to see where they could be stationed. A night before the forces being sent, there was a meeting of the heads of three powers. Martyr Hemmat was there too. Late Haj Ahmad Khomeini came in and listened to the talks and declared that Imam Khomeini has said: “Quds’ road goes through Karbala”. Meaning we should focus in our war. Why should we send forces to Lebanon? Quds’ Road goes through Karbala.

This is our problem with the current government. Look at what our regime did back then. It decided to take a position that would be in line with international norms but also went after its own aims. On the issue of Israel, our position is that all the Palestinian people (including those who have immigrated or were driven out), Jew, Muslim or Christian should gather and vote to determine their own destiny. This is completely consistent with International norms, too. It has happened in other countries, too. It happened after colonial wars and the nature of the governments was subsequently changed and transformed.

For 20 years this has been our slogan and then you went further than this, based on your own authority, your own extremism, your own radicalism. And this is when a catastrophe happens. When you take a position that instead of isolating Israel, puts her more in the position of the underdog. In Durban II in Switzerland, Europeans were against Israel after the Gaza Killings and they were going to issue a resolution. Because of our position, our mistake, not only we and our dignity were hurt, but they all ended up supporting Israel. AIPAC, the biggest Zionist body in United States, loves these kinds of policies.

This is what we are saying. We are asking you not to daydream about world issues. We should act realistically and with prudence. My problem is not over long-term matters but on ordinary executive methods. Would experts of foreign policy, our important agents, those who have expertise support this method? I am sure that our intellectual forces, whether in universities or in the Foreign Ministry itself, wouldn’t support this method.

And it is not only one or two mistakes.

In my campaign I have said that when we have excess, it is always followed by negligence. You made that extreme speech on Israel, talking about the holocaust without thinking about its costs and whether it helps us reach our goals. The result? When things got worse, your Deputy came out to say we are friends with Israeli people. This (negligence) happens because of that (excess)! That excess brings this negligence of saying we are actually friends with the Israeli people! The Deputy wouldn’t even change his mind until he was browbeaten and retreated and even then he kept his position. How could an occupying people that have occupied all the Palestinian lands become our friends overnight? This comment comes out because of the excess that had happened before. We have similar examples in political and economic issues. There are other examples, too. Let me not talk about the Persian Gulf, your trips to Qatar and UAE, which each has cost us dearly.

Only talking about them and saying they have no effects wouldn’t solve anything. Our people feel the effect of these policies. In their lack of mental security, in their economy, in the [lack of] items they need for their industry, in their exchanges with world, in loss of validity for their passports internationally, in humiliation for Iranians all over the country. Does the government see itself as responsible on the issue of Iran and Iranians? I think this government is very indifferent to issues that are to do with people’s sufferings and pains. I really feel bad for our people that have to go through these policies and these sufferings and these extremisms.

Mr. Rafsanjani is a great man and Imam Khomeini has talked a lot about him. You could talk about his points of weakness and strength but… see, I wasn’t born yesterday. I have been in politics before and after the revolution. Our people are also capable of thinking. You, in order to pretend you have been left alone, are linking up three administrations together to claim these are the same line of thought and you are up against it all. Who would accept that? Why say that?

Mr. Khatami is not an ordinary figure. He is known internationally and has been the president for 8 years. Same with Mr. Rafsanjani. You have opportunities to talk with them. You can stage talks in radio and TV. After all, State TV and radio (IRIB) belong to you and your friends day and night. Why don’t you organise a discussion to solve your problems with them? But what does this have to do with me and my ideas?

All I am saying is that your foreign policy has hurt our country and our dignity. It has chained this roaring Iranian lion. Same with your economic policies.

Let me get back to national solidarity. What are we doing here and what is happening to our universities, our youth environments, and our people? Wherever I go, there are complaints. Wherever I go people come to say they have been insulted. Students have been “Star”ed [stars are put against names of activists students so that they don’t pass], people have been arrested and dismissed.

I am an intellectual and cultural person myself. Somebody has published his books, with official permission, 15 times; when he wanted to get permission for the 16th time, he was stopped. Why do we do that? Our government has dignity; our regime has dignity. A government should be responsible for each signature that it makes and whatever it says. How many publications did we have and how many do we have now? What problems are they facing?

Some things are really painful and bother me. We all have an Iranian and Islamic identity. We also have a human identity. Think about the poor and desperate bookseller who has published 20 to 30 titles for a year. If the Ministry (of Islamic Guidance and Culture) stops four or five of them from being republished for a second or third time, he would be bankrupt. And this is actually happening.

Why are so many artists against the government? Let’s count them. I personally believe artists aren’t that political and would rarely enter politics. But they have been fed up. They have problems nationally. And this is because of these policies.

And then there is the issue of clergy. Look at the relation between the government and clergy. How the clergy is against the government.

Look at the insults uttered against the Prophet of Islam in our schools. What reaction did you show?

All these together has created a sort of cynicism toward the government (not toward the regime, nobody is ever cynic about the regime).

My question is has the government thought about its ruined relation with the clergy? Or with intellectuals? Or with youth?

Wherever I go to speak, despite five or six people that come with their slogans to disrupt the meeting and fight with others and provoke people, everybody else cries against these policies. In the matters of domestic policy, I would expand on this. One of the things that the government does and is contradictory to the eight principles of Imam Khomeini is dividing people into insiders and outsiders. Attracting one, and treating one as an outsider.

Ahmadinejad: Thanks, Mr. Mousavi. Let me repeat what I said. Mr. Mousavi, sometimes I just feel bad for you. You provide information that I know is out of your ignorance. Let me expand on one to see where your information comes from.

The question of “Star”ed students. Where did it come from? Mr. Mousavi condemns my administration for this and his reference must be people whom I don’t know. But this question started in Mr. Moein’s reign in the Ministry, 1991. In the administration of Mr. Mousavi’s friend and supporter (Khatami). They started a practice in post-Graduate studies; there were one or two stars next to the name of successful graduates. Only one star meant it had something to do with education and that the file is incomplete. Two stars meant a problem in the disciplinary committee. Meaning you had committed a violation and you had to be careful. This was done in Mr. Moein’s reign. It was annulled in the first year of my administration. I annulled it. I regarded this as an insult to students. My Minister of Science, Research and Technology nullified this. Why does Mr. Mousavi criticize me instead of criticizing his friends? I am really sorry. How could you judge like that?

Some people gather around you when you talk? Good! It happens to me too. Yesterday I was in Mashhad. Were those few hundred thousands who came out not people from this country? Why do you think only those who come out for you are people of Iran? You are the one who is separating people!

Look at these (holds up newspaper clips). I have brought this for you to see. You talked about books and publishing. I actually agree with you and I have written a letter of notice to the Minister of Islamic Guidance and Culture. Our statistics proves that we have had less control than Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Khatami’s administrations. Although I don’t agree with this, either. The letter that I wrote to the Minister is in the records.

But Mr. Mousavi, you were Prime Minister for eight years. There was only one critical newspaper back then. It started from around 1994 or 95. It used to write one or two economic critiques of you every week. My numbers and figures support those critiques. What did you do with that paper? How many times did you talk against it? Please go and look back! Our historical memory shouldn’t be forgotten. You told them they are with the enemy, they are counter-revolutionary; they are hurting the country. This despite the fact that the reports of the newspaper came from your own Budget Program. The program had been discussed in the Agricultural Committee of the Majlis and a person involved had written a critique on it. You pressured them so much so as to stop their criticisms.

But look at these (holds up newspaper clips). These are all the headlines against me and my government. These are what I have tolerated. You have accused me of dictatorship in your speeches! Is this dictatorship? Which is dictatorship?

In Mr. Rafsanjani’s time it was the same. You are asking me not to compare you with them. But we should actually do that. In Mr. Rafsanjani’s time, there was one single critical newspaper. I am not talking about their positions. But the head of government positioned himself against the newspaper several times until he succeed to silence them. And in Mr. Khatami’s time. Could anybody criticize him even a little tiny bit? Whenever any of those clergy who you talk about today made a comment, their caricature would end up in papers. After the years of the oil nationalization movement, we didn’t have a precedent for the clergy’s caricatures appearing in papers. Suddenly a wave of headlines would fill the papers: “conspiracy against the government”; “you didn’t get the message of ‘97 Elections”; “Beware, Betrayal!”, “Anti-President forces” and this was a way to silence criticism.

Another example, a Teaching Assistant in one of the universities (He was a researcher with national awards) wrote an article against the research policies. He was insulted by the management of university. Some people were organized to shout “Down With” chants against him and declarations were published. We shouldn’t forget these. When I talk about Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Khatami in one breath, I am right.

Listen to the speech of Mr. Rafsanjani’s daughter in a meeting that your wife and Mr. Khatami were also present. She describes it very well: “The era of reforms follows the era of construction that has been harmed by the current government. We Want Mr. Mousavi because he continues on the same road”. Meaning the aristocracy that Mr. Rafsanjani founded in this country is to be continued. You said yourself that you are proud of Mr. Rafsanjani’s support. What does this mean? Does it mean anything at all?

Our belief is that Mr. Rafsanjani is the main person behind the scenes. We could actually see who heads the campaign for whom. And where these meetings take place and how communications are done. Don’t tell me there is no link. There actually is. How could we close our eyes? How could the nation close its eyes? What has happened to these links? You want me to give you a few examples?

I already gave you an example about tolerating criticisms. What is happening under the current government?

Look at these, these are only headlines (holds up newspaper clips). There have been 3200 insulting headlines against us. We didn’t close a newspaper, we didn’t use threats and pressure and they are still writing all these. They are writing in your support and against us. You talked a lot against this government yourself. Let’s compare! Let’s not forget how it was under the three previous governments and how it has been under mine.

You talked about the relation with clergy. You were Prime Minister for 8 years, how many times did you visit the clergy? Give us the figure for us to know. The relations between this government and clergy are very good actually. Where do you come up with your claim? Good relations don’t mean compromising the principles of clergy freedom. I am surprised that you, who have not declared your view and ideas on the main intellectual questions, are talking about these small issues and are making judgments based on them. You accused this government of breaking the law and dictatorship. Do you remember your own administration, Mr. Mousavi? How you broke the constitution and ruled over the minimum rights of the President with political games? Your cabinet had to be confirmed by the President. But you didn’t do that because of your differences of opinion. Imam Khomeini had to intervene for the confirmation of the cabinet. This meant that the President lost his right to confirm the cabinet. Did any of the members of the Majlis dared to talk against you? Do you remember what your friends did? Once a few Majlis members voted against you. It was a secret ballot. They found out their names, declared them and then started accusing them of “American Islam” so much that many of them left politics. This intolerance continued in the next administration. And the one after that, too. I didn’t want to talk about all these but I have to because of what you brought up.

You are saying: “that was what the regime thought back then”. Well, this is what the regime thinks now. Why do you regard yourself as the regime? I positioned myself against the holocaust. The Supreme Leader agreed and so did the nation. Who is saying that the regime thinks differently? If you are talking about the people, they have declared their positions in different situations. You accused this government of breaking the law. Let me not get into 95 million dollars that your administration took from the Central Bank without a vote in the Majlis. In the summer holidays, the Majlis had to reconvene and fight about this.

Let me talk a bit about these university degrees. You called Mr. Khatami a doctor. Did you know that based on our regulations only people who have definite academic doctorates (or have at least passed the general exam) could be called a Doctor? Mr. Khatami holds a bachelor of philosophy. He is respected. I am not saying that a Doctorate brings honor to anybody. But this is what you said.

Could I talk to you about the case of a lady? Should I say it? [holds up a file with a picture].

Mousavi: Yes, go ahead.

Ahmadinejad: Should I say it? Should I say it?

Mousavi: Yes, go ahead.

Moderator: Let’s leave it for the next round. It is Mr. Mousavi’s turn now.

Mousavi: One of my issues, one of the problems in our country is the very method we see right here. Framing people; using certain terms. This happens while we have cases like that of the Interior Minister. Did the head of government now know that he only has a diploma and claims to be a doctor? Well, that’s a weakness in information. Let me not think about the possibility that he had already known this. God forbid I would think that way.

But then based on this he stood up against the Majlis and against the people. He declared student thesis papers to be “scraps” and the same Minister was so much trusted that with breaking the law, a deal worth a few dozen million dollars was negotiated in his office. It was exposed in newspapers and this is one of our problems, too.

Then there was another Deputy of yours that said: “I was just passing the Ministry, when I saw my friend and they were having discussions with a foreign company and I joined the discussion, too”. Well, all these create a lot of suspicions in society. It is very upsetting and this is one of the reasons that the government has so many problems. When he can’t resist enough, that minister is replaced by another one that has his own problems (a case about Ardebil, his wealth of a few million dollars and …). This is against the directions of Imam Khomeini on how to choose ministers. These are all questions for me. Let me not get into letters for Petroleum Transit. I don’t want to go there.

Let me quickly come back to what you also talked about. Breaking the law. Yes this is one of the main reasons I came to scene. I believe that the “Minor Tyranny” happened because of indifference toward the law and it started with the premise that you could break the law. Reza Khan came to power when people gradually got used to Parliament-enacted laws being broken (whatever they were based on: human rights, common law or etc).

We have a lot of important cases that the government has stood against the laws. Not only one or two case but a lot. The government has openly stood against the laws and this has really made me scared. I don’t want to claim that, God forbid, he wants to be a dictator himself. But imagine if a government for eight years treats the laws like this: “I don’t like this one”, “the other one isn’t in the interests of nation”, “this limits my authority” and etc. what would remain in the country? Everybody would be indifferent and get used to the fact that the law wasn’t implemented for eight years. Eight years our behavior would normalize the head of government and government breaking the law? Events could happen and somebody could use this and appear on the scene…

One of the instances is the government’s abstention from executing the Fourth economic, social and cultural development program.

There are some really strange discussions around this, its nature and things like that.

I don’t really understand how the government could approach the law like that? If you don’t agree with a ratification you have to go to the parliament and try to get its replacement ratified. I don’t have time so I wouldn’t get into details.

The other instance is the illegal dissolution of supreme councils and abstaining from executing the ratified decree of parliament and also the Expediency Council’s.

The government refrains from executing this, stubbornly. They have a thousands excuses. I don’t think we have anybody higher than the Expediency Council since it is backed by the Supreme Leader and its decision are so important than could be even beyond religious laws based on expediency. This council has ratified, after a lot of discussion, for 18 of the dissolved councils to be reestablished. One of this is the Money and Credit Council. I want to tell people: if we have a 25 percent inflation, one reason is the absence of the Money and Credit Council. Because the government wants to control the authority of banks and all other institutions. They don’t want anybody to interfere from the prosecution office, from different sectors, from private sector. The result is the current inflation and the economic situation that has made everybody fed-up. Industry is on decline, inflation is 25 percent, everybody is complaining. This is caused by those acts. Liquidity is 2.5 times higher than the ratified amount. This is caused by illegal spending from the public budget. I don’t need to tell you this.

Look at the minutes of the Majlis and Supreme Audit Court which is one of the most important regulatory organizations in our country. Look at the dissolution of the Program and Budget Organization. I have legal documents here that show this couldn’t be done by the government. The reason I am sensitive about this goes back to my own administration. I remember that some people were opposed to the idea of programs. From the beginning of the revolution they were opposed to the idea of programs. They would say you should depend on God and goods will trickle down on you. Or they didn’t like programs, any way. They wanted to act on their own. I felt a danger in this; I was Speaker for the executive committee of the Council for rewriting the Constitution. The issue of employment and planning the budget is actually my own suggestion that made it into constitution. But this government has dissolved this and made it into an organization without any authority whatsoever.

The other instance is breaking the law of direct taxation. I could read its details.

The other one is the prevention of execution of the law for taxation on added value (this one is not even a right of the government to do). There is also abstaining from the execution of the law for National Services management.

I am going to read a list of the rest of them: illegal merge of the Haj and Pilgrimage Organization with the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization which was stopped only by the intervention of the Supreme Leader. It was revealed that this is illegal. An obvious indifference to judicial decrees. I even have an example that the Minister of Science stands bluntly against the Organizational Justice Court decree and proudly says he has asked for the law to be broken. He says: “I told the head of university who was a revolutionary and war-injured person that even if he was expelled he shouldn’t let this violator to come to the university and media also supported the head of Yazd University in this case”. And then he goes on to explain about the situation of the expelled professor and etc. whereas if he, Minister of Science, was opposed to this he should have found legal channels to pursue his opposition.

Another instance is an obvious indifference to the fake degree credentials of Mr. Kordan and supporting him nevertheless and obvious violation of the law that bans you to hold more than one position.

I think instead of trying to frame people, they should go and find answers to these questions, for resolutions that would help the country’s problems, to save the country from crises. I am telling you very honestly and without much ado that one of the main and most important motivations of mine to enter the scene was the issue of law breaking. I want to ask people if the government, not only for once but for a few times, gets used to this and wherever it suits its taste stands against the ratifications of the Majlis (a Majlis that is very much in line with the president, too). Is this not dangerous for the nation? Could the country go on like this?

Ahmadinejad: I should repeat my sentence again about the judgments of Mr. Mousavi. Is this the government that has broken the law? All your reference is to a single ratification of the Majlis and that is the law for councils. Guardian Council says it is unconstitutional and Expediency Council ratified it. If you really want this law to be executed and you have complaints why didn’t you write a few lines to the Organizational Office Court? They would nullify the government acts if we acted in contradiction to the law. Let me give you a couple of figures.

Moderator: You only have eight minutes left.

Ahmadinejad: Oh, I think we should let this to go for 3 or 4 hours. These people have attacked me for more than 3 months, all of them together. I have only 45 minutes, 3 persons against 1.

Based on our documents from the previous government, they were 303 nullified ratifications in the previous government but this figure is 157 for us. Ratifications nullified in our time were 3.2 percent, it being 6.5 percent for the previous government. Who has followed the law more prudently? And we have executed more amendments of the Majlis. We are actually executing the very law Mr. Mousavi talks about and that was ratified by the Expediency Council. You can go and talk with a couple of legal experts and they would tell you that. If you really think we are breaking the law, write a letter to the Organizational Justice Court. This is the way it is in our constitution. The Court would come and cancel anything necessary.

This is a large country and things might happen here and there. But didn’t it happen in your time, too? Is it us who are after framing people?

As with Kordan… it goes back to the 80’s and 90’s, in Mr. Rafsanjani’s administration (who is a supporter of Mr. Mousavi) when a lot of managers suddenly wanted a PhD. Azad University supported this wave and started issuing doctorates one after another. A wave started and Kordan was part of it. What I said in the Majlis was that I don’t value these kinds of degrees. A university professor should be somebody who hasn’t slept for many nights, toiling to get his degree. Many people are going through a lot for their education in this country.

What I said was that I don’t accept any of this. Could I bring a list of many people who went on to get their fake PhDs in Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Rafsanjani’s administrations? Mr. Kordan was one of them. Now he is being singled out. I think we should forget the degree and judge him based on his actions.

About the other person. Mr. Mousavi talks about millions of dollars. Let me tell you about this person. He was a division commander before going into economic activities in Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Khatami’s time and he then got rich. He was already rich when I asked him to leave his economic activities to join the government and he did.

But, Mr. Mousavi. Many of your managers and those of Mr. Rafsanjani came with nothing and become billionaires with a privilege of getting dollars for 70 rials or via exports and imports. Mr. Safaei Farahani is a manager of your government who was enriched in your government. There is a long list that I don’t want to repeat. You are talking about billionaires? What do Mr. Rafsanjani’s sons do in this country? Which one of my ministers became a billionaire in his reign or used economic rent or got properties for himself? I have a list of managers who got lands. You want me to read it? 40 hectares, 50 hectares, 80 hectares, 400 hectares. The majority of my government’s land distribution has been these land allowances of the past. Who has got these lands? Those who are now supporting you.

Where the heavy costs for your campaign advertising comes from? Mr. Mousavi, I like you. Tell me where does this come from?

Look at Rasht Electric factory. Without a tender or auction it was given to Mr. Karbaschi friends, Mr. Karbaschi’s wife, Mr. Ghobde’s wife and they destroyed the factory to sell its land. I have dozens of examples like this. They have been given 400 hectares of land in Hormozgan where people are desperate for a couple of hectares where a few youth could work. This is breaking the law, Mr. Mousavi. Breaking the law is the case of a person who was tried in this country and found guilty and then fled from prison to foreign countries and Mr. Rafsanjani’s son was behind all this. Breaking the law is the case with the sons of many people who support you. How did Mr. Nategh’s sons become billionaires? How does Mr. Nategh live himself? These are your supporters! They are the ones who break the law.

Mr. Mousavi you can’t even recount one example that we have said we don’t recognize the law.

Here I have a case of a woman. You know her and she sits next to you in your campaign. In contradiction to the law in our country, while she was a civil servant she continued her post-graduate studies in two majors in Azad University. She got a PhD without passing the exam and then become an Assistant Professor in a non-related major and has become the head of university without meeting the proper requirements. This is breaking the law. This is what I am opposed to. I am opposed to economic rent and games and what would favor a few while the rest are deprived. I am not opposed to the law. I am obedient to the law. Our government is most obedient to the law. I didn’t start talking about statistics. In the very period when you claim that the economy has been hurt, we have had the best economic situation compared to before. Compared to your administration, it is actually great. But even better compared to all previous ones. There is a detailed statistical report that has been published.

I want to ask you when it was that Imam Khomeini had to intervene and dissolve the University student-picking system? My administration or yours? I will finish with a memory. After this dissolution, Mr. Noghrekar, your own brother-in-law, invited me to join the board for revision of student-picking systems. They gave us some cases. There was one for a girl that had asked her to answer a single question. One answer could lead to her acceptance or refusal… I have seen these with my own eyes. Eight principles of Imam Khomeini came out for your administration, not mine. You have to tell us how much you actually followed it.

Mousavi: How much time do I have?

Moderator: About 12 minutes.

Mousavi: Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke about a lot of things.

Some things I don’t really know how to respond. One of the problems of talking with Mr. Ahmadinejad is this. Like when he asks me to write a letter to the Organizational Justice Court.

Ahmadinejad: You are criticizing and telling me I am breaking the law.

Mousavi: You shouldn’t intervene in my time when I am talking. This is the very spirit of yours that is right now present in the media IRIB too. We know who these people are in this and other places like Raja News and we know how they act. This is my time to speak.

You tell me to write a letter to the Organizational Justice Court. Is this a way to respond to the Majlis and Expediency Council? A council where the entire regime’s seniors sit and its legitimacy comes from the constitution and Supreme Leader? Could one run a country like this?

This is actually what my problem is. The way that he talks instead of admitting a mistake and trying to fix it will lead to dictatorship. He asks me why I call him a dictator. I never said you are a dictator. But this method will surely lead to dictatorship because you regard your position higher than the Majlis and Expediency Council.

About the name-calling, well this isn’t really how the head of a government should act. You can’t accuse anybody who has not been convicted in the legal system without them having the chance to defend themselves. This is a crime. You attack persons who are not present here and use them against me. It seems that you haven’t found anything from me and you had to link me to two previous governments. I don’t want to defend them but I think they are right to be angry with you and people who are watching this also shouldn’t accept this from their President.

Let’s forget what Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Khatami have done in this country. They were Presidents. But only as citizens they have a right not to be accused in front of 50 million people, the minimum people watching this, where they can’t defend themselves. But you keep naming their families and their children and everybody else.

That’s why a legal system exists. I am telling you, Mr. Ahmadinejad. You have to know. This is what a legal system means. When somebody is found guilty, it means that everybody else is innocent. This is an Islamic principle. From day one you have been talking about thousands of corrupt people in this country, saying you will reveal their cases and expose their names. You destroyed the dignity of Persian Bank’s head and then you gave it to your own Deputy and the same with everybody else. These are sins. We are Muslims, we are believers and we believe in God. We can’t just name people and accuse them.

As with the hectares of land allocations, well did they do it? They did a very wrong and bad thing, if they did. What does it have to do with me?

Why do they support me? Well, I have declared every citizen a campaign headquarter. Unlike some people whose banners has filled the world over and have used all the government’s resources (administrations, ministries, TV and Radio), I haven’t used any of these. We have a core and nobody could say a bad word about any of the people in that core. They are pious, believers and God-fearing people. If there was anything you could say about them, you surely would. This is how you are. But there isn’t anything. Because they are very pious people.

We have opened the door to the entire nation for support. We welcome the entire nation to support me to win these elections and make change. This is my intention. I have said that and I will say it again. If you want this atmosphere, where others are easily vilified, to change, vote for me.

He has held the photo of my own wife in front of me and he talks about her. Let me tell you. She is the most important female intellectual in this country, she has toiled more than 10 years for her Political Science PhD and there are documents for it that we will publish. There were websites linked to you that publicize against her. She is a Quran researcher and a writer. She is honored to have Masters in Art and Masters and PhD in Political Science. You can go and see the General Exams of Azad University.

I know very well that your Deputy instead of trying to solve the people’s problem is going from this case to that case to find something that would be useful for tonight so they could bother somebody.

I have come to change this morale. I am telling people: I will change this morale. The eight principles of Imam Khomeini were against this morale. I will change this way of making cases for people and students and etc. He is saying “Star”ing students started in Mr. Moein’s time. Alright, he did a bad thing. But I don’t think at that time they would behave like this.

Ahmadinejad: O, Mr. Mousavi. Come on.

Mousavi: You shouldn’t intervene in my time. We want to be just. For four years I didn’t talk about you but now I have been fed up. It is my duty to come to the scene though I had no intention. I saw that you are putting the country in a danger. I will bring up economic issues in other programs to show how you are running the country. The same Money and Credit Council has made banks your playing area. We are saying this is a Qajar policy. This is what Qajar rulers did before. They had a treasury and they would just pick money from it to allocate it to different purposes. Money and Credit Council is there is to limit you and me. Organization of Management and Planning is there to not let you spend however you want. To hold you accountable. But now the Audit Court says that money was lost and was not sent to treasury. It is there to prevent these. It is good for us, you, me and our entire nation. You haven’t done this.

I have come out because of empathy. To solve the problem that if continued, if I could talk about its other aspects, you could see that inflation, unemployment, addiction and bad culture are also results of this. As is our failure in foreign policy. That’s why we don’t have a single close friend in the region. This is all because of the things that I will read for you. You judge to see if these matter or not.

I talked about four or five specification of this management that goes to a dead-end. How much time do I have?

Moderator: About 3 or 4 minutes.

Mousavi: It is worth it if I read from this to finish the debate tonight (looks at his pile of documents). Mr. Ahmadinejad, unfortunately, talks about issues that led me to say things here that I didn’t want to.

His is an agitated unstable management that is only for showing off. It is full of daydreaming and superstition. He constantly predicts that the United States will collapse. I have been hearing for four years that Israel, France and the US are collapsing. This is how he defines his foreign policy. Of course we would go wrong and make mistakes.

Selfishness and breaking the law. If one is not selfish, he wouldn’t break the law, he would welcome the law. If he doesn’t like the law, he would go and change it legally.

Other issues: Shallowness. Excess and negligence. These are hurting our country and I believe we have been hurt in these four years.

I have a message for people. I have been from people and I will go back to people. People will judge. People will judge this administration and will see how the policies are and will decide for themselves. I saw a danger for our country and I regarded as my duty to come to fore, the rest of it is with the Almighty. How would he position people’s heart? I have nothing else to say. Do I have any time left?

Moderator: About a minute.

Mousavi: I want to thank all people. I know people are deep and I ask them to be. I call on them to endorse values. Humiliating people and letting them run after your car with a letter and claiming this is a “face-to-face” policy is not the right way.

For people we should generate work and production. We should strengthen the national production. We should strengthen our own industry. Basmathi Rice shouldn’t be all over Rasht, foreign tea all over in other places and etc. It is really funny. I went to Hamedan. Their product, that is sold nationally, is garlic. They were telling me that Chinese garlic has filled their markets and they can’t sell anymore. We have to put an end to these things. We have to at least have an Iranian pride, if not economic sense. This is humiliating for us when our industry, agriculture, production, economy and culture are under these dysfunctions. I wish that, God-willing, these discussions and dialogues will conclude in the interest of our Great Islamic Revolution.

Translators: Abbas Gooya and Babak Kasrayi. You can see it with voice over in English here.

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