Friday, July 29, 2005

In New York

I had arrived early, to see if I could be of help setting things up. But all was ready and like everyone else, while waiting for others to arrive, I went about introducing myself to those present. At one point I was pleasantly surprised to find an acquaintance that lives only a few blocks from my apartment; all along I had thought of him as non-political!

What kind and lovely people! Almost everyone I met had come by car from other states; many had driven thousands of miles, just to be among their compatriots for a few hours. I need hardly add that I was quite embarrassed by all this, as I was one of a handful of locals. “How many Iranians live in New York, New Jersey or Long Island?”…”Where are the thousands of Iranians who came to the Persian Parade?” What was I to say, that they’re a bunch of #@$@!?

I merely replied that that those “Iranians” are Iranian in name only, and that only for fun and a good time. There are tens of thousands of Iranians who live in the tri-state area; the total number of participants was about 110 or 120. I do not regret not attending the Persian Parade.

The location of the demonstration was ideal, steps away from the United Nations. You should have seen the gestures of support from the drivers and passengers of the cars passing by, turning from 1st Avenue into 47th Street. Reading some of the placards we were holding, one cab driver, a Pakistani gentleman, told us, by way of encouragement: “We’re damn sick of Islam too. Good luck to you.”

Two construction workers in a van, Americans of course, said a few kind words to us while waiting for the traffic light. Somehow they reminded me of the American construction workers who 25 years ago, to counter a protest by Hizbollahis and “communists” shouting “Death to the Shah!” had instantly created their own demonstration in support of the Shah in front of the hospital where our King was hospitalized.

As to the pedestrians, the reactions there were also positive and supportive of our cause. Quite a number actually stopped and conversed with this or that protester, including a Moslem Iranian couple; that conversation being no less courteous on account of the lady wearing the Hijab. In my corner, we were also approached by a Turkish gentleman of Kordish background and we spoke of the ongoing killing of Iranians by Islamists in our province of Kordestan.

[removed] was great and after his speech we received a phone call from Ostad Forud Fouladvand, leader of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, thanking us for our presence in this gathering. [removed] was there too, having arrived after a 15-hour drive to return the same evening. I was saddened by the absence of [removed] and [removed], but I hope to have the honor of meeting them next time.

As I respect the privacy of the participants, and with their safety in mind, below is the one and only picture I took for this blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Today's demonstration in New York

My observations later, as I'd like to rest and gather my thoughts. If you know of any Iranian satellite channel that made mention of this demonstration, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Samira Mohyeddin on Ignatieff

Found this article by Samira Mohyeddin, of the "Ebadi you're nobody" fame, on Ignatieff's "Iranian Lessons", which we discussed here a few days ago.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

In Memoriam

Reza Shah Pahlavi, Reza Shah the Great, Father of Modern Iran
March 16, 1878---Died in Exile on July 26, 1944

Mohamad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Aryamehr
October 27, 1919---Died in Exile on July 27, 1980

New heights in hypocrisy

As we anxiously ponder the Iraqi government’s alliance with the Mullahs in Iran, let us remember Michael Rubin’s warning and prediction in April of last year:

Iraqi democrats feeling sidelined
By Michael Rubin, Los Angeles Times (April 4, 2004)

British overtures to [the Islamic Republic] set allies at odds
By Alec Russell, The Telegraph (April 15, 2004)

Regarding Scheer’s article, there is an interesting circumstance connected with it, as remarkable as the article itself.

Although Scheer clearly portrays the Islamic Republic as a threat, his article has also been published by very Islamic-Republic-friendly websites on the net; that is, websites which regularly dismiss that threat! To name but two: and

This strange circumstance lends itself to two explanations. Either the Mullahs’ Western supporters have suddenly, overnight, changed their position or, they published the article solely on the basis that it represents an indictment of the Bush administration.

Supposing we do not readily dismiss the first as nonsense, it’s safe to say that neither explanation puts individuals behind such websites in positive light. More likely, these websites will continue to support the Islamic Republic unless doing otherwise should prove yet another chance to condemn the Bush administration. Self-contradiction, apparently, hardly enters their calculations.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Analysis" from Poti!


“Potkin Azarmehr”, an anti-monarchist and a supporter of a petition by a founder of the Islamist Republic’s Revolutionary Guards against the threat of a revolution, argues that the 1979 “revolution” simply meant the replacement of the Pahlavi Dynasty with another, that of the Mullahs! He writes, “The more suitable name for the rulers of Iran is the Islamic Monarchy of Iran and not the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Unfortunately, “Azarmehr” neglects to cite a single national policy pursued by both the Iranian government and the Islamic Republic.

What would we do without these aspiring think tanks abroad!

Lessons in “universalism”

Lessons in “universalism”!

Be sure to read Michael Ignatieff’s Iranian Lessons. You’ll be more than usually disgusted and find him morally repulsive, true, but if the New York Times is the official voice of US “establishment liberals”, as is so often stated, and if the author happens to teach about human rights at Harvard, you’ll get a pretty good picture of what very influential circles think of Iran. In the very least you’ll reinforce your previous beliefs as to what passes these days for human rights in “neoliberal” (read neo-colonialist) circles.

Arriving, in a country where women do not even have the right to dress as they like when they awake in the morning, to lecture on human rights, and proving by that fact alone that the Islamic Republic is not as illiberal as all that, he emphasizes that he was invited “not by the mullah-dominated universities but by the Cultural Research Bureau, an independent center in Tehran.” The fact that the Islamic Republic allows no institution, center or association that it itself did not create to operate outside its influence is of no relevance. CRB is “independent” probably because it was so stated in CRB’s letter of invitation!

As Ignatieff had arrived during the presidential election show, let us begin with his thoughts on Ahmadinejad, Mullah Khatami’s successor. They’re briefly summed up as follows: “Immediately labeled a hard-liner by most American commentators, Ahmadinejad sent out more populist, inclusive signals at home, leading some Iranians to worry that quick American condemnations of him as a reactionary might only provoke him into becoming one.” Not just some Iranians surely, but clearly the author himself, for this statement is not followed by the rebuttal that a reactionary does not “become” a reactionary. “An authoritarian populist”, actually, is what Ignatieff calls Ahmadinejad. More importantly, neither does he bother to elaborate on his “hardliner” vs. “liberal” scheme within the context of a totalitarian Islamist regime. Are not officials of an Islamist regime ipso facto reactionaries? In truth, the article does not quite impress one as having been written at all from the perspective of human rights. Rather, true to the values held by the NYTimes, Ignatieff’s main interest in Ahmadinejad seems to concern the latter’s views regarding “free market”.

Ignatieff writes of his lectures,

“I had been invited to lecture on human rights and democracy, but Ahmadinejad's unexpected victory changed the agenda of my talks. Suddenly the question was no longer, What do democracy and human rights mean in an Islamic society? but, Can democracy and human rights make any headway at all in a society deeply divided between rich and poor, included and excluded, educated and uneducated? The reformers had promoted human rights and democracy as a panacea for Iran's poor, and what had been the result? The slums of Tehran voted for a man who advocated stricter discipline for women, tougher theocratic rule and state control of the economy.”

Ignatieff may have changed his agenda there, but he also, for more than obvious reasons, avoids the first question here. Yet the first question is the more basic, fundamental of the two, for if it is established that democracy and human rights mean nothing in a society controlled by Islamists, then what is the point of asking whether democracy and human rights make any headway in a Islamist controlled society with the additional attributes, if you will, of deep division between rich and poor… Well, in this instance, dodging the first question and what is obvious, by way of word play, allows Ignatieff to argue that by lessening this division and alleviating economic grievances, Islamic Republicans, who “had promoted human rights and democracy as a panacea for Iran's poor”---while pouring money into their Swiss bank accounts---, can the more easily advance the cause human rights and democracy!

Associating human rights and democracy with Hezbollah’s “reformers”, whom he variously calls “liberals”, note the manner in which the reformers’ record is whitewashed:

“Ahmadinejad had capitalized not only on his war service but also on gathering disillusion with the failure of the reformers -- nominally in power since the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997 -- to address popular grievances relating to jobs, housing, transport and, above all, the growing class divide. In leafy north Tehran, reformers were talking about human rights and democracy, while in dusty south Tehran, the poor were struggling to hold onto jobs in an economy in which unemployment was officially 15 percent and probably twice that. For the reformers, the victory brought home how out of touch with ordinary Iranians many of them had become.”

There is hope yet for Mullah Khatami to receive a Nobel for his efforts!

Moving on, Ignatieff’s account of his conversations with Iranian students, secularists and revolutionaries opposed to the Islamic Republic altogether, do more to betray the author’s own capacity for charlatanism and apologetics when confronted by them than reveal anything new about the students’ hatred of the regime. In one instance he cautions the students, and the readers, against “going too far” to exclude Islam (“religion”, as he puts it) from Iranian politics and “crushing religion”. In another, when asked about his opinion on the detested Shariah, he argues, “The challenge is not understanding why these are wrong but prevailing politically against the religious authorities who believe that their own power depends on enforcing these penalties.” That is, Ignatieff advises that instead of opposing Shariah, Iranians should work within the Shariah system. Keep the Shariah and reform it! I wonder, dear reader, what Ignatieff and his sort would say if Shariah were to be introduced into the US judicial system.

No anti-Iran commentary, of course, would be complete without a vilification of the Shah of Iran and denouncement of the Iranian government, and here too Ignatieff does not fail the editors of the New York Times.

“Propped up by Americans,” Ignatieff writes of Mohamad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Americans must really have loved the Shah of Iran to continue vilifying him more than 20 years after his death!), and “kept in power by a hated secret police,” he “launched a White Revolution in the 1960's, a grandiose modernization program that alienated mullahs, merchants and students alike.”

It is hardly surprising to see someone who compliments Islamists about “the achievements of the Islamic revolution” to characterize one of the most important events in contemporary Iranian history, the White Revolution, with the snotty and contemptuous “grandiose”. Regarding the White Revolution, he either has no clue as to what it was, which is very doubtful, or thinks all his readers ignorant of Iranian history. Note his protest against the alienation of the parasitical Mullahs! Given what was achieved by the White Revolution, and given the Mullahs’ opposition to modernization, the Mullahs of course felt alienated! Note too the preference for “students” instead of feudalist landowners who treated Iranian farmers like serfs, when students, like Iranian women, were in fact very much in favor of the White Revolution. Conveniently, very conveniently, neither does Ignatieff acknowledge that the reforms actuated by White Revolution had first been put to a national referendum with over 90% approval of what had been proposed.

I’ll end by quoting Ignatieff in his comparison of the Iranian government with the Islamic Republic:

“Like all revolutionary regimes, the [Islamic Republic] seems to have reproduced the ugliness of the regime it overthrew.”

It’s only because of our complete lack of honor and self-respect that charlatans like Ignatieff allow themselves the liberty to continue to write what they write.

Friday, July 15, 2005

18 Tir and after

Given the level of participation among Iranian exiles in previous demonstrations commemorating 18 Tir, a dual anniversary marking a failed coup in 1980 to strike at the heart of the Islamic Republic and a bloody popular uprising in 1999 against what Fred Halliday calls a “democracy”, Saturday’s relative calm and the absence of significant protests must have been very disappointing indeed, perhaps even considered with some apprehension, especially as such demonstrations would have followed the London bombings and taken place under rather advantageous circumstances. What happened?

Exactly what we expected to happen!

The signs were all there. Consider another protest that preceded the 18 Tir commemorations: The hunger strike last month by Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi. A weekend protest in Los Angeles “in support of political prisoners” that even according to its promoters was received coldly, surely it anticipated the calmness of 18 Tir. After all, if Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi, in a hunger strike at that, can’t get thousands to a demonstration, who could?

No one can, if the people feel betrayed, have come to view the situation as hopeless, or regard the “opposition” as no longer trustworthy or competent.

In the LA gathering, for example, it wasn’t the popular Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi who called for the protest was it? It was “citizen Reza”, who having alienated his most committed supporters by signing the CPD-backed “Sazegara petition” against a counterrevolution, had shut off the very people who may otherwise have heeded his call. As important, and running parallel to this development, was the limiting of the goals of the opposition to “freedom for political prisoners,” when the clearly stated goal of the enemies of the Islamic Republic is its overthrow.

In fact, thanks to the gradual fading of the lines delineating “the opposition,” what was once a potential force against the Islamist Republic has been reduced, little by little, to pleading for the freedom of political prisoners (as important as that is), and in some circles solely the freedom of particular prisoners. Are these signs of “the opposition’s” competence or the reverse? Would these developments induce anything but resignation? Well then, can we blame those Iranians who regard the situation as hopeless?

What of the “opposition” media? The “opposition” media has played an even more important role here. If there were any doubts before as to the self-centered, opportunistic nature of the numerous radio and satellite stations broadcasting from the US and Europe, they were effectively removed by their refusal to report, let alone praise, such remarkably important protests as Azarakhsh and Tondar. That they are against Anjomane Padeshahi will not do: As self-described disseminators of news and information (which, in their case, is basically limited to re-reading headlines from the BBC or the Islamic Republic’s own disinformation services), they were obligated to report these activities. Readers should not conclude that I base my evaluation here solely on the censorship and blackout which surrounded Azarakhsh, Tondar, or the arrest and beating of Ostad Forud Fouladvand by Blair’s goon squad. I said the same last year when these broadcasters refused the slightest sympathy towards thousands of Iranians who had poured into the streets of Tehran when they were asked to do so by Ahura Yazdi.

Not reporting what matters is one thing, but actually confusing one’s listeners or viewers is another, and a day does not go by without callers complaining about the confusion created by these stations. This is not limited to complaints about “disunity”, but also concerns an absence of consistency, even between the announcements of a single individual commentator. To mention a recent example, one of the personalities who called upon Iranians to join Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi in that weekend protest was WKRSI’s Said Ghaem’maghami, a promoter of the Sazegara petition. Yet, only a few months earlier, this two-faced character explicitly stated, while putting Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi in the same category as a vulgar reactionary in Canada, that he is against what the young prince stands for! (“Ma ke na Ghandchi va na Reza Pahlavi ra ghabool darim…”)

I attribute the calmness of 18 Tir abroad to a lost sense of confidence in “the opposition”; to a feeling that “the opposition” is in shambles. In my view, in so far as “opposition” means emphatically Iranian, and unequivocally committed to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, it cannot be denied that what was once known as “opposition” has been to a great extent discredited and even discarded.

Yet I insist that this is not a state of apathy but a sign of political maturity. Better to begin from the beginning, and build on strong foundations, than to continue with this farce.

And they're doing just that at Anjomane Padeshahi.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Iraq's Ayatollahs

Remember Ayatollah Muhammed Baqer Al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Iraqi Shiite group with close ties to the Islamic Republic? If you recall he was killed in August 2003 with a car bomb near the Imam Ali Mosque. Here’s some footage from one of his sermons:

And here is a disturbing report from the British controlled Basra.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

On the subject of “political prisoners”

Nov 2003 article by Amir Taheri.
Jerusalem Post.

Anyone looking for a Muslim Nelson Mandela is bound to be disappointed. Muslim tyrannies do not allow a serious opponent to live long enough, even in prison, to acquire the iconic status that the former ANC leader won in South Africa.

The apartheid regime, evil as it was, observed some rules. Muslim tyrannies observe none, except the dictates of their survival instincts. Had Mandela been held in a Muslim tyranny, he would have been dead and forgotten long before the world knew his name.

The Muslim world accounts for some 80 percent of political prisoners in the world. But none are allowed exposure that might enable them to acquire a Mandela-like star status.

Prisoners at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum to the regime become non-persons — seldom seen even by their families, and never spoken of. The only prisoners allowed some exposure are those who shared the regime’s roots before breaking with it for personal and/or political reasons.

In Iran, for example, many opponents of Khomeinism, from monarchists to Marxists, when captured, were simply murdered between 1980—1997.

Today, there are an estimated 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. Most are lower or mid-ranking democrat, monarchist, Marxist or other leftist elements that lack the name-recognition needed for "Mandelaization." No one knows how many are still alive.

Our search for potential Mandelas, therefore, has to focus on the 2,000 or so prisoners who emerged from within the regime.

This is a motley crowd and includes former hostage-takers, former terrorists, repentant Khomeinist clerics, and former high officials.

The longest-held prisoner in this category is Abbas Amir-Entezam, aged 70, who was deputy prime minister in the mullahs’ first cabinet in 1979. He was jailed on a charge of espionage for the CIA in 1980 and has been behind bars ever since.

Also noteworthy is Hashem Aghajari, a former Revolutionary Guard member, who started calling for a separation of mosque and state last year, now in prison under a suspended death sentence.

Mention must also be made of Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, aged 81, who has been under house arrest for some 15 years. In 1979, he was the Islamic Revolution’s number-two, after Khomeini, who named him his political heir.

Montazeri broke with Khomeini in 1986 and since then, in his own words, "has tried to pay for some of my sins in the revolution."

That’s about it. Sorry, guys, no Mandela in our neck of the woods.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

On the persecution of Iranian Bahais

Recommended by a visitor to this blog as one of the best books on the subject.

Thank you kind visitor.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Nojeh: July 9, 1980

Friday, July 08, 2005

Despite living abroad, Iranians still fearful

Years after fleeing persecution in Iran, Bahais still know fear
Refugees recall retaliation, worry about relatives.

By Eileen E. Flynn
American-Statesman Staff
Friday, July 08, 2005

Face down on the ground outside a police station in southeastern Iran, blindfolded and with ankles bound, Farzad Kasiri raised his voice in an absurdly sincere attempt to reason with his tormentors.

"Why?" he bellowed. "Why are you doing this?"

The men, he says, stuffed a dirty rag in his mouth and continued to flog his bare feet. The answer is as clear to Kasiri now as it was 22 years ago in that police station parking lot. The Islamic revolutionaries who came to power in the late 1970s after deposing the Iranian monarch targeted thousands of people, he says, because they followed the Bahai faith, a religion that emerged in the 19th century with the belief that the world's major faiths are progressive revelations from God.

"They had a plan to kill us all," says Kasiri, 54, who is now an Austin shoe salesman.

A national spokeswoman for Bahais in the United States says the persecution has continued since the revolution.

"It is the policy of the Iranian government to do whatever it has to do . . . to eliminate the Bahai community," said Kit Bigelow, director of external relations for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States.

Now, as the U.S. government keeps a close eye on Iran's newly elected president, religious conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian Bahai refugees are praying that conditions will not worsen for family members they left behind.

They have reason to worry, Bigelow said. In recent months, the situation has deteriorated for the country's estimated 350,000 Bahais, Iran's largest non-Muslim minority, with the destruction of holy sites and cemeteries and an increase in arrests of Bahais.

Since the 1978 overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the establishment of a Shiite Muslim theocracy under Ayatollah Khomeini, Bigelow said, the government has executed more than 200 Bahais and forbidden Bahais from openly practicing their faith, attending college and receiving equal legal treatment.

The U.S. State Department's Web site chronicles the Iranian government's mistreatment of its Bahais, and American leaders, starting with President Reagan, and the United Nations have called on Iran to restore their rights.

Although the Iranian constitution recognizes Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity, all of which predate Islam, the government regards the Bahai Faith as heresy and does not officially acknowledge the religion, said Reza Afshari, professor of history and human rights at Pace University in New York.

"No one has suffered as much as the Bahais in the last 25 years," he said.

In the Northwest Austin apartment that he shares with his wife, Kasiri recounts the details of his interrogation, torture and three-month imprisonment. His strong features darken. He is silent for a few minutes, eyes watery and mouth slightly agape as he struggles to control the building anguish.

Kasiri says his captors beat him, threatened to execute him and at one point sent in a Muslim cleric in an effort to convert him. He was finally able to return home, he says, thanks to a sympathetic guard who told him, " 'I have a lot of Bahai friends. I love Bahais.' "

But even after his release, the situation was untenable. The government, he says, seized his family's 100-acre farm in Babolsar, near the Caspian Sea. He fled to Pakistan in 1984, obtained religious refugee status and moved to Austin a year later.

"What they have done to me is not acceptable," he says of the government, but he stops short of making what could be perceived as a political statement.

For many Bahais, even a quarter of a century after fleeing, even after finding safety and comfort in the U.S., fear of retribution persists. Two Austin Bahais asked not to be named for this article because they are afraid that the Iranian government would retaliate against their family members.

"The political situation is very unstable," said one man who recently traveled to Iran to visit relatives. "Nobody knows exactly what's going to happen six months to a year down the road in Iran."

Another Austin Bahai, a woman who said that her mother was imprisoned and father was executed within a year of the revolution, said she worries about what will happen to relatives in Iran. The damage done to her immediate family, she said, is immeasurable.

She was 13 in 1979 when she boarded the "last flight out of Tehran." The shah had just fled, and Khomeini was on his way back.

"You could feel it. It was like a storm that was coming," she said.

Months later, living in the United States, the woman received a call from her father, who urged her to look after her brother and pursue her education, she said. She "knew that something horrible was about to happen."

A short time later, she dreamed of her father's execution. But she could not confirm he was dead until three years later.

"While this was going on, the world just went on," she said. "That was the oddest thing. Why was the world not stopping and taking notice and helping?"

A fatwa regarding the looting of archeological sites in Iraq

This should be of particular concern to Iranians. Historically important Iranian artifacts and archeological sites are located in Iraq.

According to Professor Macguire Gibson of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago:

“We have reports that Muqtada Sadr [the powerful Shiite cleric based in Kufa] is getting a cut. There was a fatwa [clerical ruling from Najaf] condemning looting but there was a counter-fatwa from Iran saying that looting pre-Islamic items is acceptable.”

The article has been removed but you can still try Google's cache of the page HERE.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Wearing a brace under his jacket to protect his broken ribs, and in pain from three deep wounds from tranquilizer darts fired by the special units of the Scotland Yard engaged in “fighting terrorism”, today Ostad Forud Fouladvand, on behalf of Anjomane Padeshahi, expressed his most sincere condolences to the people of Britain and Queen Elizabeth II for the tragedy that has befallen the great city of London.

This expression of sympathy was not extended to the British government.

Training Iraq's armed forces

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"Martyrdom Seekers"

A report about the movement of "martyrdom seekers" in Islamist occupied Iran aired by Al-Arabiya TV on July 2, 2005.

Thanks to LittleGreenFootballs

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yet another deceptive map of Iran

Some of you may have already read “Iran’s Waiting Game”, by Christopher Hitchens, in the July 2005 issue of Vanity Fair. But those who read it on the Internet might have missed the map of Iran that Vanity Fair inserted in Hitchens’ article in the magazine itself. Placed on page 48 and credited to a certain Joyce Pendola, it directly links the Iranian province of Azar-abadegan or Azarbaijan to our neighbor in the north, the former Soviet Republic self-styled as “Azerbaijan”:

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Signals from Tehran

"The iltiqatis believe that while they and their own children should live a largely Westernized life, the masses should continue stewing in the juice of poverty and ignorance in the name of religion. The iltiqati sends his own children to Europe or America to study but insists that the children of the masses attend Qur’anic school and be protected against 'Western corruption'. You would be surprised how many children of the grandees of the Islamic Republic, including Rafsanjani, have been sent to the West for education."

Signals From Tehran
By Amir Taheri

Interview with Shirin Ebadi

Highlights from Al-Ahram’s interview with the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Ayatollah Shirin Ebadi, conducted before the second round of the presidential election and the appointment of Ahmadinejad to that office.

She is asked, “How do you assess the recent presidential elections in Iran? And who, in your opinion, will win the run-off elections?” She replies that she has no opinion, that she didn’t vote and that the interviewer should ask those who did. The interviewer insists, “But you must have an opinion of your own.” Here is Ebadi’s reply:

“As long as a council [the Guardian Council] or an individual [the spiritual guide] screens the candidates I cannot vote. Freedom cannot be achieved as long as an individual or a council acts as guardian.”

Now the interviewer did not pursue the matter any further. But had he known even a little about the country under discussion he would have seen right through Ebadi’s hypocrisy and duplicity and asked: “Pardon me, but have not the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader screened the candidates since the establishment of the Islamic Republic? Did they not screen the candidates in the years past when you did vote or were encouraging other people to go to the polls? Did they not screen Mullah Khatami, your two-term president, whom you praised as the person really deserving your Nobel Prize?

Next she is asked, “Is Iran moving towards more democracy and freedom?” Her reply to this question is interesting as well, basically revealing the framework within which she and the reformists define freedom and democracy:

“When the seventh parliamentary elections were held many candidates were banned from running, including 85 who had been members of the sixth parliament. No proof of their ineligibility was given. Why [were they banned]? Because they criticized the conservatives…During the presidential elections some people -- women included -- were not allowed to run. This is a violation of international norms. The human rights situation in Iran is not what one might wish it to be.”

Freedom, democracy, even human rights, then, are defined in terms of one group of Islamic Republicans, including female Islamic Republicans, being eligible to run for and hold some office in the Islamic Republic. This, despite her pretentious “Democracy is a culture, expressed and reflected in laws and state administration,” which follows.

How does Ebadi compare democracy in Iran with democracy in the region? Her reply: “Democracy as it exists in Iran is better than that of neighboring countries.” Either Turkey, arguably Iran’s most important neighbor, is not part of “the region” or, according to Ebadi, “democracy” in Iran under the murderous anti-Iranian Hezbollah is better practiced than in Turkey. Here, as when the subject turns to the condition of Iranian women under the Islamic Republic, note too the complete absence of reference to the pre-1979 era. Although, to give her credit, she does hint that after the Islamic Revolution “some laws changed for the worse.”

Read the rest of the interview yourselves and do not miss: “When I returned to Iran after receiving the prize one million people were waiting to greet me.”

Friday, July 01, 2005

Interview with a local reformist

The reformist in question is a certain Mori Toosi, “international affairs director” of Jebhe Melli (the self-styled “Iranian National Front”), interviewed by the Illinois-based Journal Gazette & Times Courier.

Excerpt from “Local reformist: New Iranian president a puppet” by Nathaniel West
June 29, 2005

“‘It's definitely a setback (by) at least 20 years,’ he said. ‘Now we have parliament that consists of fundamentalists, the president is a fundamentalist, the supreme (religious) leader is definitely fundamentalist (and he) is elected by fundamentalist clerics.’”

I’d like to ask Toosi, “international affairs director” of Jebhe Melli, how he would describe the state of affairs prior to the appointment of Ahmadinejad as the republic’s president. Furthermore, was not Iran controlled by Islamists when the JM supported and urged others to participate in the Islamic “parliamentary” (explicitly, up to and including the sixth Majless) and presidential elections (up to and including Mullah Khatami’s second term)?

As to the author of this article, he appears to have little knowledge of the organization to which Toosi belongs, describing it here just sufficiently vague (“one of several MODERNIST political factions ousted under Khomeini”) as to render an explanation appear extraneous. Not convinced? In his previous interview with Toosi, which may still be available here, it was explained:

“[Toosi’s] group was one of the political factions that supported the ‘Red Revolution’ in 1979, which toppled the totalitarian regime of Shah Mohammad Reza. Unfortunately, the revolutionaries got more than they bargained for, as the vacuum of power was filled instead by religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini…the late Khomeini instituted a form of government that was democratic in name only. Contrary to the wishes of groups like the Iranian National Front, according to Toosi, Khomeini's Islamic Republic blended politics and religion seamlessly.”

You read correctly; “contrary” to the wishes of the National Front! The National Front had no role in Khomeini (“The Imam”)’s filling the power vacuum! Karim Sanjabi and the National Front did not join Khomeini in calling Dr. Bakhtiar’s government “illegitimate” and “illegal”! The National Front “intellectuals” joined an ultra-reactionary Shiite Mullah and accepted him as leader NOT knowing that Mullahs would or ever did “blend” politics and Islam!

And of course, the “regime” under the Shah was “totalitarian” while the “government” instituted by Jebhe Melli’s Imam was “democratic in name only;” what else!