(The New York Times) | April 10, 2010
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
MOHSEN SAZEGARA recognizes that nonviolent protest is a tough sell for most Iranians, given that bloodshed is a part of both their long history and their faith.
But Mr. Sazegara ticks off a couple points in its favor. First, the Islamic Republic has disenchanted a wide section of the population. Second, he believes that Iranians harbor a mystic tradition that could be channeled into the kind of nonviolent tide of dissent that bends history.
This, by the way, comes from one of the architects of the Revolutionary Guards, the military spine of the government.
“In Shiism, we always talk about blood, about sacrificing your blood,” he said over tea and sohan, flat candy concocted from pistachios and saffron. Like most invariably long conversations with an Iranian intellectual, this one winds around to Rumi, a celebrated 13th century poet and theologian. “The ideas of some mystic like Rumi is based on love, is based on loving everybody, to be kind with everybody,” he said.
Trying to supplant martyrdom with mysticism, and boiling the ideas down into the 10-minute videos he beams into Iran nightly, has been Mr. Sazegara’s quest since anti-government riots erupted in Tehran last June over the widespread sentiment that the presidential election had been rigged.