A former member of Iran’s Basij militia, who spent his youth attending anti-Israel protests, later enforced strict Sharia laws on Iran’s streets and says he participated in six executions, made an unlikely visit to Israel in what he called a gesture of goodwill to the Jewish people.
Afshin Javid, now a devout Christian convert living in Canada, who left Iran and his family behind several years ago, toured Jerusalem’s Old City and spoke to Channel 2 in a report broadcast on Wednesday.
Javid said he served as a member of the Basij militia, a volunteer paramilitary group subordinate to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and known for their loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As a member of the group, said Javid, he and his comrades would strictly enforce Muslim law and would beat up and arrest young men and women they found socializing. “If a girl is talking to a boy, or a boy is talking to a girl, you grab them, arrest them, beat them,” he said.
His father had been a firm supporter of the Islamic Revolution, and he joined the Basij at a young age, he said. “I had never met a Jewish person, but I hated them,” Javid said, recalling his days participating in anti-Israel rallies, chanting “Death to Israel” and burning Israeli flags “many times.”
Javid spoke of the population’s extreme frustration with the economic situation in Iran and its disillusionment with the political leadership.
Many young Iranians are leaving the country or converting to other religions, he claimed, also mentioning a “massive” drug addiction problem and high suicide and divorce rates. Facebook is full of Iranians complaining that the revolution and the regime are not bringing them “any of the things that you promised.” Others, he said, “are trying to stay within the borders of Islam” but following a more moderate interpretation of the faith.
Taught to be indifferent toward the regime’s political executions, Javid said he used to mock those put to death. “I participated in six executions,” he said, acknowledging that he “never asked” what the victims’ crimes had been. “I would make fun of them. When they put the rope, I’d just lean over, grab the guy’s head… and whisper, kind of, ‘Bye bye,’” Javid told Channel 2.
Regarding the economic sanctions enforced on Iran in an effort to thwart its nuclear program, Javid said he does not believe they are an effective means of stirring up an uprising or greater public pressure against the regime. Struggling to feed their families, Iranians don’t have the time for revolution, he said. “The only way to change the mindset of a nation is to show them your friendship, and a better way to live,” he said. Boycotting them and cutting them off “is not going to do that.”