Saeed Toosi is a renowned Quran reciter in Iran and judging from a quick search in Google, he seems to be famous all over the world for his skills at reciting the Quran. But Googling “Saeed Toosi” today will focus more on the fact that he is being accused by no less than 19 men – 4 of whom have formally accused Toosi while the others have not yet made formal charges – of being raped when they were 12-14 years old. These victims were all pupils of Toosi and the rapes took place over 7 years. But the big issue, beyond the traumas of the victims, is that the regime in Tehran, beginning with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is doing its utmost to save Toosi and to criminalize his victims.
According to the accusations, Toosi molested his students on trips they would take to Quranic contests outside of Iran – there he would book rooms with the children and proceed to rape them. Since most of these boys come from conservative families, many would-be accusers “let it slide” or tried to deal with the issue in a non-confronting manner, knowing that Khamenei’s open endorsement of Toosi could become problematic to say the least. By law, homosexuality and rape in Iran are capital offences which can lead to executions so Toosi should be quite fearful for his life.
Four years ago, the families of a few of the victims decided to take Toosi to court only to find that the case was dismissed by the judiciary. The reasons for the dismissal are clouded by too many different versions of the truth: some claim that the case was dismissed because Toosi had “repented”. Others claim that the case was too weak because it lacked the evidence needed to indict him. And still others claim that the accusations are simply lies by disgruntled students.
But the main theory is much more simple and much more horrifying: Toosi is a common guest of Khamenei’s Quran recitals and Khamenei described him as an “exemplary model to be followed”. What happens when a Supreme Leader makes a mistake in character judgement? He changes the facts to maintain his judgement.
Well, some of the families decided to fight back: they took to the foreign media to state their accusation and suddenly the sordid accusations flooded the media around the world, apart from in Iran since foreign media is blocked by the regime. Some of the accusers went on video or on tape to state their claims and they published an audio tape released in which Toosi claims that “his majesty (Khamenei) told Larijani (Sadeq, the chief of judiciary) to terminate the dossier” and added that “If they try (to get rid of me), I’ll take 100 people down with me”. Toosi, by the way, denies the whole issue, claiming that the accusers are lying, but then again, Iranian authorities stated that they received a “repentance letter” from Toosi in which he admitted the crimes but claimed that “he is a changed man”.
But once the news was leaked abroad, it began to spread like wildfire on social media in Iran, especially on the hugely popular social media platform, Telegram (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc… are all banned in Iran). As Iranian media picked up on the story, the regime dug in its heels: Iran’s attorney general stated that the claims of rape were simply meant to “destroy the state’s prestige and dignity, and to call our values into question” and Larijani lashed out at the media for using Toosi’s case as “a false flag designed to attack the state and its justice system” and then threatened to prosecute any media who would publish this story and threatened to punish the victims who went to the foreign “hostile media” for being “disloyal” to the “revolution”. The well-oiled wheels of the regime turned into motion and in a flash, a serial rapist of his young pupils is safely beyond the law while his victims and their families remain helpless.
So, what’s the situation now? Toosi and his accusers continue to be shielded by the regime in an effort to bury this inconvenience. According to Mullah Ejei, a spokesman for the judiciary, the case is not yet finalized but he hinted that a prominent judge claimed that there wasn’t enough proof. Furthermore, Ejei, also joined larijani in threatening the media and added another shroud of secrecy on the case claiming that it should be “classified”.
And there you have it. A religious man, who is revered for his religious abilities, is accused of being a serial rapists of teenage boys but he is going to get away with it simply because he is well connected to the Supreme Leader who may want to avoid a religious-based scandal. And the victims? Like many other victims in Iran who find themselves opposing the regime, they are “shut down” or “eliminated” in order to save the regime the embarrassment of having to deal with the issue. That’s what the regime does to political opponents, inconvenient minorities, artists, reporters, activists etc…Anyone who is in a position to criticize or hurt the regime is automatically labeled an enemy of the state and is bound to be “shut down”.