Liberation Movement of Iran

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LIBERATION MOVEMENT OF IRAN

The Liberation Movement of Iran (Nehzat-e azadi-ye Iran), or LMI (also called Iran Freedom Movement, or IFM), was established as a liberal Islamic opposition in May 1961. Its twelve founders, including Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Mahmud Taleqani, and Yadollah Sahabi, presented it as Muslim, Iranian, constitutionalist, and Mosaddeqist; that is, they claimed the ideological legacy of Mohammad Mosaddeq's National Front. In 1963 the shah banned the LMI and imprisoned its leaders for a number of years.

LMI gained power during the Iranian revolution in 1978 and 1979. Its members formed the core of the postrevolutionary provisional government and on 5 February 1979, Mehdi Bazargan was appointed prime minister of the provisional government by Ayatollah Khomeini. He resigned in protest after the occupation of the American embassy in Tehran on 4 November.

Though formally banned by Khomeini in 1988, the LMI was generally tolerated, but not allowed to participate in elections. It openly criticized the doctrine of velayat-e faqih (i.e., the rule of the religious jurisprudent) as well as the executions, torture, and the ban of parties and free media. Although its members are mainly academic veterans of the opposition to the shah, since the 1990s LMI has also appealed to the young who admire Mosaddeq—the only democratically elected prime minister of Iran. The left wing of the LMI is represented by Ezzatollah Sahabi, who, in 1992 founded the magazine Iran-e farda.

After the death of Bazargan in 1995 and under its new chairman, Ebrahim Yazdi, the movement became more cautious. Nevertheless, in spring 2001, the revolutionary court ordered an end to all LMI activities. Although charged with conspiring against the Islamic system on 13 November 2001, Yazdi was not touched by the authorities. But more than thirty other members were sentenced to jail by the revolutionary court on 27 July 2002, among them Ezzatollah Sahabi. They were charged with a series of crimes, including seeking to topple the country's government. The trials were held behind closed doors.

See alsoBazargan, Mehdi ; Iran, Islamic Republic of .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chehabi, Houchang E. Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism. The Liberation Movement of Iran under the Shah and Khomeini. London: Tauris, 1990.

Claudia Stodte