How Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s favorite reciter got away with rape

Shima Silavi
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Saeed Toosi, who has been known as “Khamenei’s favorite Quran reciter” and winner of the 1998 International Quran Recital Competition, has recently returned to the spotlight following the recent news of his acquittal from sexual assault charges in Jan. 27 of this year.

In July 2012 Saeed toosi was charged with two “acts of public indecency” and “making immoral statements to encourage corruption and depravity and to sexually arouse teenagers”.

According to Center of Human Rights in Iran “the four-year sentence that was initially handed down to Toosi was dismissed”.

Toosi had denied the allegations at the time but in in a 2013 letter to four of the victims who pressed charges against him in the court, he admitted to having had committed sexual assaults, describing it as “unhealthy relations” with his students. The letter was signed with his signature and fingerprint.

iran scandal saeed tosi
iran scandal saeed tosi

During an interview with VOA Persian, one of the four victims stated that this was the second letter they had received from Toosi as a similar letter was sent the previous year through a medium from the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Out of nineteen victims so far, only four pressed charges while the remaining preferred to testify as witnesses. According to one of the victims, Toosi accompanied the students to international Quran recital competitions and “preyed upon his students in the privacy of hotel rooms and bath houses both in and outside of the county”.

Role of Iran’s Supreme Leader’s office

Toosi was both Khamenei’s personal barber in Mashhad and later in Tehran and his son’s Quran teacher. He is also related to Khamenei through Sayyed Ali Moghadam, who is the head of the Supreme Council of the Quran and Head of Public Relations at the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran and also Khamenei’s cousin.

On the same episode of VOA Persian aired on October 14, 2016 the victims provided audio file in which Toosi says “Agha [Khamenei] himself is completely aware of this case … and has ordered [Chief Justice] Larijani to wrap it up”.

In response to the allegations against Toosi and Khamenei’s involvement, Chief Justice Sadegh Larijani stated “strange lies aimed at the supreme leader, the judiciary chief and the judicial system”.

A day before the court’s ruling, Member of Parliament (MP) Mahmoud Sadeghi tweeted the following: “Evidence appears to show that the child-molesting Quran reciter has the support of a person or persons within the supreme leader’s office”.
Larijani has been listed on two sanction lists for human rights violation: The first on EU restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities in view of the situation in Iran since March 2012 while the second through the Treasury Sanctions Individuals and Entities for Human Rights Abuses and Censorship in Iran, and Support to Sanctioned Weapons Proliferators since January 2018.

Iran's chief of judiciary Sadeq Larijani. (AFP)
Iran's chief of judiciary Sadeq Larijani. (AFP)

Larijani was personally assigned by Khamenei to take the position of Chief Justice in 2009.

As other judges could not “wrap up” Toosi’s court procedures, Khamenei once again personally assigned the mission of dropping the charges and acquitting Toosi to Larijani.

The news of Toosi’s acquittal brought another name in the debate of critics of the verdict, Said Shirzad. Shirzad was a member of "committee for defence of child labors and homeless children” who has been in notorious “Rjai Shahr” and “Gohardasht” prison for the past three years.

This verdict also received widespread condemnation from Iranian individuals, public figures, artists, and human right organizations who by referring to Said Shirzad’s case stressed on the corruption of the Iranian judiciary and the role of the supreme leader of Iran in covering the revelations that are extremely damaging to the facade of a theocratic system such as Iran.

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