A get-out-of-jail-free card in the Islamic Republic.
Iran's best-known Quran reciter, Saeed Tousi, has been molesting and raping children as young as 9 years old, for years.
Tousi is very close to the political and religious establishment of the Islamic Republic. He is a personal friend to, and Quran reciter for, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is a member of the Supreme Council of the Quran, and has been given many awards by Ayatollah Khamenei.
The Supreme Council of the Quran was founded 26 years ago and it is operated under the supervision of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The Supreme Leader of Iran has called the child rapist a “model to be followed.”
According to the Economist:
For years, the victims say, he touched boys memorizing holy texts at the Supreme Koran Council in Tehran. On trips abroad, the Koranic reciter would allegedly lure Islam’s equivalent of choirboys, some as young as 12, to his hotel room.
The Iran Wire wrote:
According to the victims’ accounts, Saeed Tousi took advantage of young students he was supposed to be offering support to, discussing private sexual matters with them before raping them, often in public bathhouses or hotel rooms. Victims filed their original complaints against Tousi in 2011, but Ali Moghadam [who is the president of the Supreme Council of the Quran] interfered in the judicial process, thereby protecting Tousi and saving him from the consequences of his actions.”It adds: “Tousi’s alleged victims say that when they accompanied Tousi on trips, he showed them pornographic videos and magazines and tried to arouse them by talking about sex.
The victims finally talked to Voice of America’s Persian-language TV network, after losing hope on bringing Tousi to justice. The chief justice, Sadegh Larijani, immediately warned that anyone who talks to a foreign news outlet “in opposition to the values of the Islamic Republic” would be guilty and could be encountering charges for “abetting and giving assistance to a crime.”
BBC Persian conducted an interview with the victims as well, which “was viewed an unprecedented 400,000 times on its Telegram channel.” According to the BBC: “One of the accusers described to the BBC an assault which he said took place in a public bath house when he was 12 years old.”
The victim, who was 12 years old at the time, recounted:
I was so shocked I couldn't understand what was going on....I was so afraid to say anything because of the shame it would bring upon my name, but then I found out that there were so many other cases among his students. So I broke my silence.
People reacted fiercely. "Another shameful page in the history of the Islamic republic," wrote Meysam. "People are being abused under the banner of religion... and no-one is going to be held accountable."
"If the victims had been girls, [the authorities] would've accused them of being dressed inappropriately and provocatively. And they would argue that the assault was understandable" wrote Somayeh, according to BBC.
Efforts to bring the child rapist to justice have been fruitless. A spokesman for the judiciary, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, argued that there was "insufficient evidence" to look into Tousi’s case.
The intriguing issue is that Tousi has confessed to his crimes:
In 2012, Tousi signed a letter in the presence of Ali Moghadam stating that he repented for his actions. He promised there would be no further instances of sexual harassment. In most courts of law, such a letter would serve as evidence of guilt and wrongdoing. But not only did the letter protect Tousi from any punishment, it did not appear to signal the stopping point for Tousi’s abuse. According to plaintiffs in the case against the Koranic expert, the rapes and abuse continued, and students were left vulnerable to his predatory actions.
Instead of investigating the case, the Islamic judiciary is now accusing his victims of being anti-establishment and foreign conspirators for speaking with foreign media outlets. The religious authorities would have preferred that the children remained silent.
The famous Quran reciter is not only currently walking free, but is also being continuously invited by government officials to recite the Quran at major official ceremonies. He is totally protected by the religious establishment.
It is crucial to point out that this is not a rare case. There are tens of thousands of religious Islamic figures, from every village and city of Iran, who use their Islamic authority to rape, abuse, and molest children, girls and women. Raping children, boys and little girls is not considered an important issue for the Islamic judiciary of Iran. In addition, if such rapes are conducted by a religious figure, he can be confident that there would be no legal case against him. In fact, the victims who speak up are the ones who would be charged for endangering Iran’s Islamic establishment.