[In this footage, Dr. Abdulkarim Soroush, Iranian philosopher, and religious intellectual talks about the mentalities of those who are ruling Iran.]
Dr. Soroush talks about clerics not knowing the history of Islam: I promise you that most of our faqihs [Islamic jurists] don’t know anything about not just history of Iran, but the history of Islam. Nothing at all. Let me tell you this. It is good to know. Before the revolution when I was in London, this Mr. Rouhani who is the president in Iran had come to London for a couple of months. He himself told me. He said, “most of our religious authorities’ information about the history of Islam and history of Karbala and Ashura and Imam Hossain is what they have heard at ‘reading Rawda’ [annual ceremony to commemorate Karbala]. They don’t know more than this.”
Dr. Soroush continues: Well, of course, even if he hadn’t said this, I knew it. I am not saying this to criticize or find fault with anybody. No. I just want to tell you what is going on from a cultural viewpoint. And those of them who have read history like Mr. Khamenei have read only the history of kings. They have read the history of Reza Shah Pahlavi, they have read the history of Qajar kings, they have read the history of Seljuks, they have read the history of Ghaznavids. They haven’t read the history of democracies, and even if they have read their history, they haven’t lived under democracies. They don’t know any other way of life at all. They think that the only possible relationship between the state and people is for one to use coercion and for the other to obey. And if they don’t obey, they will go to prison and will be tortured. Nothing else. They say if Reza Shah was like that, why not us? If Naser al-Din Shah was like that, why not us? If he ordered a place or a city to be captured, why shouldn’t we do it? Why can’t we? We are just, we are God-fearing. And they were unjust, drank wine, and were not God-fearing.
Dr. Soroush criticizes the clerics’ mindsets: As you see, it all doesn’t go back to whether someone is necessarily a bully or a villain. It is not just that. It is about us and our data – the data that we have in our mind. And it is these data which make us contemporary or not. It is our data which make us inhabitants of the contemporary world or not. If some data are missing from your mind, then you belong to another place and another age. Do you see?