A defiant Hashem Aghajari, dissident history professor and leftist-Islamic activist, told the judge during his retrial that he did not insult clerics in his June 2002 Hamedan speech, but added that his own source of emulation was Ayatollah Montazeri, the Supreme Leader’s highest ranking clerical opponent. Leftist Islamic activist and teachers’ college history teacher Hashem Aghajari told the judge that in his June 2002 speech in Hamedan, he only questioned the clerics, and did not insult them. “In no way was I talking about the sources of emulation,” said Aghajari, a founding member the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIRO), the pro-reform party.
In his speech about Islamic Protestantism, Aghajari criticized clerical rule and said Muslims were not “monkeys” and “should not blindly follow” clerics.
Traditionally, top Shiite clerics call themselves “sources of emulation.”
“When you criticize something, it is not insulting something,” Aghajari continued.
A court in Hamedan twice sentenced Aghajari for that speech, but each time the sentence was overturned by the Islamic judiciary’s supreme court after the intervention of the Supreme Leader, who said he did not consider Aghajari’s statement blasphemous.
The case was eventually given to a public court in the Tehran judiciary, after a provincial court refused to hear it.
Aghajari still faces between five to ten years in jail on charges of insulting religious sanctities, propagating against the regime and spreading false information to disturb the public mind.
"From the beginning I said this was a political case against reforms. You say I was talking about politics, but this was not politics," Aghajari told judge Mohammad Eslami in the small court room, pledging his allegiance to the regime, but defying the Supreme Leader by saying his own source of emulation was Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who spent five years under house arrest for comparing the Supreme Leader to the former Shah.