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Where Is The Nuclear Fatwa of The Supreme Leader?

A few years ago Mehdi Hasan, the Political Director of the Huffington Post UK and Shi’ite lay preacher, voiced his praise for Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictatorial Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mehdi Hasan contrasted the lives of non-Muslims, who “live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire”, with the piety of the Supreme Leader, whose faith had led him to issue a fatwa – a legal judgement – outlawing nuclear weapons.

“We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.”

“Ayatollah Khameinei has issued a fatwa saying the stockpiling, the production, the use of nuclear weapons us forbidden under Islam. Spot on. Islamic Republic of Iran. The fatwa of the Supreme Leader.”

The fatwa was referred to by President Obama, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on 24 September, 2013, where he noted that:

“The Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.”

However, according to MEMRI,

[S]uch a fatwa was never issued by Supreme Leader Khamenei and does not exist; neither the Iranian regime nor anybody else can present it.

The deception regarding “Khamenei’s fatwa” has been promoted by the Iranian regime and its spokesmen for several years. Each time it was mentioned, the “fatwa” was given a different year of issue – for example, 2005, 2007, or 2012 – but the text of the “fatwa” was never presented.

MEMRI has conducted in-depth research with regard to this “fatwa” and has published reports demonstrating that it is a fiction.

The barren fruits of MEMRI’s research can be read here.

If, as MEMRI suggests, the Supreme Leader is pretending to have produced such a fatwa, but in fact is lying, that would be a cause for concern. I’d assume that, as a theocratic religious authority, Khameinei would have a real problem issuing a formal religious ruling – replete with extensive theological argument – which was a lie. I can understand why he might be more comfortable with a lesser lie: that he had issued such a ruling. If Khameinei is lying about this, it does indicate that in fact he is in favour of the “stockpiling, the production and the use” of nuclear weapons.

MEMRI says that they can’t find the nuclear fatwa. They appear to have looked in the obvious places for it. But that, of course, doesn’t mean that the fatwa doesn’t exist.

What we really need is a journalist, with a good understanding of Shi’ite theology, who is prepared to criticise the Supreme Leader, to ferret out the truth and bring it to the attention of the public.

Step forward, Mehdi Hasan!