In past I have written about Basij militia and their way of thinking and also their actions in Iranian society. I have mentioned Basij members go through intensive Islamic indoctrination process but still there are many things left unsaid.
Although Basij is a volunteer paramilitary organization but there are systematic process in place to persuade children at school to register as a Basij and diligently participate in Basij special classes, everyday prayers and gatherings. It is easier to brainwash children than a full-grown person. By the time children grow up, it will become extremely difficult to bring back them to reality. This story might be difficult for you to grasp so let's watch following video that shows a group of Basij children in Iran-Iraq war and one of them speaks about his experience of war:
Basij organization founded by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 and Basij members extensively have participated in Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988). More than 1 million Iranians killed or maimed during this war which most of them consisted of untrained Basij members and Revolutionary Guards. During Iran-Iraq war there were constant campaigning to persuade people to join Basij and go to the war. People from different age groups joined to Basij and gone to war, many of them never made it home. They were under influence of brainwashing techniques with combination of Islamic doctrine but they never knew they have been brainwashed. During that time Iranian child soldiers have been used in suicide missions or propaganda projects in war.
Back then Basij members have idolized Ayatollah Khomeini and now they have been taught to idolize the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Back then Basij organization has participated in war and propaganda and nowadays, they are active in propaganda, repression of civil society and crackdown on dissent and opposition movements (check out reports of the protests over presidential election in June and July 2009). One might consider Basij as a positive force back then but I do have many reasons to argue against this notion.
Unfortunately the vicious cycle of brainwashing children and children enrolling in Basij organization would never stop anytime soon. A close examination of everyday textbooks of school children proves this. For example, the "Islamic Culture and Religious Studies" textbook for eighth-grade says:
“Defensive jihad is incumbent upon every one. The young and the old, men and women, everyone, absolutely everyone, must take part in this sacred battle, fight to the best of his or her abilities or assist our fighters…If colonialists outside the borders of the country interfere in the affairs of Islamic countries through their agents inside the country, the religion of Islam does not permit Muslims to remain silent and watch the foreigners pillage and plunder but orders them to rise up and strive with all their might to defeat the enemy and liberate their country. This too is a defensive jihad and is incumbent upon everyone.” On the seventh-grade of "Islamic Culture and Religious Studies" textbook says:
“By taking note of the guidance and instructions provided by Islam, every Muslim youth must strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of God and their people through combat-readiness and skillful target shooting. He must always be ready to defend his country, honor, and faith and use all his capabilities and power in this endeavor. After the victory of the Revolution, His Holiness Imam Khomeini, the deceased leader of the Islamic Revolution, issued an order for the establishment of the basij (paramilitary group) for the Oppressed.” Or on the concept of sacrifice and self-sacrifice, on second-grade 'Heavenly Gifts' religious studies textbook says:
“Heaven has eight doors through which those who are destined for heaven enter. One gate is dedicated to the prophets and those who are honest; another is for martyrs and pious people, and the remaining gates are for other groups.” And this should be very alarming for all Iranians because Iran's future will belong to today's children and this children will be leaders one day and with this upbringing, I do not see how they are not going to fail Iran. I do not think so open-minded person would want to see a legion of Iranian radical martyrs in future.
1, 2 and 3: Discrimination and Intolerance in Iran's Textbooks