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January 14, 2004

Reformists in danger, people reluctant to help
Hossein Derakhshan  [info|posts]

not_listening.JPGI'm not a right-wing fan in Iran or elsewhere, but I think the recent protests by the reformists about their ban to stand for parliament, is more of a power struggle than really fighting for people's basic rights.

There is a big conflict of interest here at the ongoing sit-in and requesting people to join it; because their own fate, as a political faction, is in danger in the near future; as well as it is a threat to people's right to elect.

But personally I guess if the reformist MPs were in fact after people's rights, amid their own risks, they should've done the same when the Guardian Council rejected the bill to join 'the UN convention against discrimination against women', or even when they rejected the bill to revise the present election law.

Should the reformists really want massive support, as Alireza Alavi-Tabar suggests, they have to radicalize their platform and to define a new framework beyond the constitution. They all know where the problem lies (the unlimited power of the uncontrolled Leader) and they eventually have to do something about it.

Alongside, they could separate themselves from the conservative groups such as Rohanioon Mobarez (Mehdi Karrubi's group) who have cleverly displayed themselves as reformists while they all believe in, more or less, the same principles as the conservatives. The irony is that Karrubi and all other nominates from his group are accepted by the Guardian Council.

I don't think Iranian youth would engage in the current political row unless they see a real change in reformists platform, which could translate to a collective call for changing the constitution or something as politically significant.

Hamed at January 14, 2004 07:52 AM [permalink]:

“is more of a power struggle than really fighting for people's basic rights.”
That's the real manner of all politician. I don't expect something else. I think it's even
can be good .

Wessie at January 14, 2004 09:48 AM [permalink]:

“is more of a power struggle than really fighting for people's basic rights.” That's the real manner of all politician."

Not ALL politicians, Hamed but rather politicians in your part of the world.


Señor Græd at January 14, 2004 09:52 AM [permalink]:

"[I]f the reformist MPs were in fact after people's rights ... they should've done the same when the Guardian Council rejected the bill to join 'the UN convention against discrimination against women', or even when they rejected the bill to revise the present election law."

Strangely, this observation does make a lot of sense to me.

P.S. As usual, I disagree with Wessie's simple-minded view. ;-)

shut up at January 14, 2004 11:02 AM [permalink]:

COMMENT REMOVED in violation of Rules 1 and 4 of the comment policy.

Grand Vizier at January 14, 2004 11:06 AM [permalink]:

Some Examples of political power struggle instead of fight for people's basic rights in the non-Islamic countries:

[0] Murder of Julius Caesar [well maybe THAT one was a prt of a fight for people's right]
[1] Hitler's Ascend to Power in Germany
[2] Stalin's cleaning up of the Communist party
[3] Mao's Cultural Revolution
[4] Nixon's Watergate
[5] De Gaul's France [almost all of it!]

I dropped more recent events because we are not yet fair judges of these events, history shall have its verdict... I leave you to dispute the above events, but mind you, I'm not a Muslim and even against the Western tradition.

Corruption is a natural disease of any power system, no one can deny that! Of course real democracies are far less corrupt, because they wield far less, and shorter power to the politicians.

Ordak D. Coward at January 14, 2004 11:11 AM [permalink]:

Hossein, while I agree with most of your article, I think there are a few things that should also be considered.

i. When people elected the 6th Majlis, the constitution had already put the Majlis under supervision of Guardian Council. So, both pepole and the candidates, knew well that that they can only introduce laws to the Guardian Council (GC). So, in my opinion, asking the Majlis to have had undergone a a sit-in at those times -- when their introduced laws were rejected by GC -- is too much.

ii. However, the only real and legal power that the Majlis had, was to freely talk from their Majlis podium without the fear of legal prosecution. Here is where I believe, when some of them were threatened for prosecution, they should have protested strongly, as the prosecution was directly against the IRI constitution.

iii. There is another instance that they should have appeared stronger, and that is when they were going to discuss the new press law, and out of blue, they stopped doing it. Again, under the constitution and their own Majlis regulations rules, they are allowed to discuss and introduce any law they want. And, they should have protested at the premature abortion of their discussions. That is when they made their biggest mistake, and bowed to the pressure from Khamenei.

iv. The rejection of the current reps for the next Majlis, simply means, that not only the Guardian Council does not like the laws they introduced, but also it means that they do not want to give them the untouchable podium (item ii above) the Majlis had to freely speak their mind.

v. Another general mistake they had made is to accept any interpretation that GC made on IRI constitution, even though those parts of the constitution were clear enough, that did not need interpretation. Again, the same goes for some of GC's rejections of Majlis laws based on their contradition to the previous Majlis enactments -- and not based on constitution or Sharia.

vi. Another mistake is when Expediaecy Council, without any constitutional mandate, added items to the budget(?) law introduced by Majlis.

Note that, the other camp, usually referred to as conservatives, tries their best to discredit and prosecute some of the current representatives, but at the end they were unable (or unwilling) to convict them of financial corruption -- while having the upper hand at the judiciary.

Most likely, the current sit-in situation will not lead to anything. As the reformists have shown not to be very strong in their stands. However, if they want support from people at this stage, they should bargain for much much more than being allowed to run for the next Majlis. They should ask an emergency session with GC, and ratify major laws with GC at the same time. They should force the GC to stop the filtering of the Majlis candidates and pass a liberal election law. They should also try introducing the notion of a stronger Majlis supervision over judiciary and GC to happen in the next Majlis. After the laws are passed and ratified by GC, announce that they are not running for the next Majlis, and announce further time for future candidates to register for Majlis. If this fails, they should resign immediately. I know this never happens, but this an example what they should bargain for.

Señor Græd (The Redundant) at January 14, 2004 11:17 AM [permalink]:

It's getting more exciting by the minute:

"A meeting was held to discuss Khatami's proposal to end the sit-in," he said. "All the protesting MPs...unanimously decided to continue the sit-in until we get solid results."

Señor Græd at January 14, 2004 11:36 AM [permalink]:

When there is a conflict such as the one we're witnessing these days, some reformists, including President Khatami himself opt for a solution that I find, *ideally*, unacceptable. Instances of these are Khatami's recent so-called negotiations[=RAAYZANI] with the supreme power, sorry, I mean supreme leader, and the like[=ZO'AMAAYE GHOWM, or in Iran's case, ZO'AMAAYE GHOM!]. The ideas that conflicts should be resolved by such methods are diametrically opposite to the spirit of democracy where people and their judgement are trusted and referred to, where *all* people, including the supreme whatever, are treated like citizens, not subjects.

Another pathetic instance of this mentality that seems to be not uncommon among our brethren, the reformist folks, is attempts at replacing an unaccountable central power by another one, and thus defying the former. That's the role that Grand Ayatollah Montazeri has been playing in recent years. Granted, many reformists may want to use the old fellow just as a means to pressure the dominant structure of power, but in principle such replacements, and such negotiations, and the mentality that supports and feeds them have to eventually stop if we want to see a democracy.

yahya at January 14, 2004 11:47 AM [permalink]:

I think if people get involved and join the sit-in, the demands can go higher from what the reformists have asked for. So, I believe this sit-in better be supported even if we know what these refomists are asking for is limited.

yaser at January 14, 2004 12:44 PM [permalink]:

Grand Vizier

You can't analyze Iran's political situation with the examples of 50 years ago in China or Germany. In the last ten years, any power struggle in Iran has indeed lead to fighting for basic human right.

Another point is that though not all power struggle necessarily end up fighting for human right, but all the fighting for human right is because of power struggle. NO single politician care about people's basic right.

Señor Græd at January 14, 2004 12:45 PM [permalink]:

HOW should people "support" it though?! By physically joining the sit-in? What if the thugs attack the people? (Some of the mullahs from Qum have threatened, according to a BBC news, to "go to Tehran" if the sit-in doesn't end. So things can get ugly. Also, what if the MPs "betray" people's support by accepting to end the sit-in at some point? See, the problem is there is no leadership, no solidarity. I'm not talking about a Khomeini-like figure, but even a Lech Walesa:

Daashetoon at January 14, 2004 03:58 PM [permalink]:

First of all,

Daash Hussein, damet garm, at last you got us somewhere, because I really did not expect you to go this far! So I will give you an ei val for now!

To Grand Vizier and Yasser:

History is a good example for everybody, this is true that Western Democracies are far more liberal democratic than what they used to be but the example of Nixon was really a good one!

Since some people, especially some Nalootis of White Supremacist background have been fair enough to equate us with savages (wihtout exactly saying it) I have got to say that they can be happy of their human way of perfect democratic handling of everything when their Presidents are brought to power by the Mafia in the JFK's case and not to mention the graves of the main Chicago's cemetry who ended voting for him!

Should I add to that the most democratic way by means of which Laateh Bozorgeh and rather Nalooit of Texzas became President?!!!! Mordeem az bas pozetooneh khordeem!

Should I also add the rising numbers of 'democratic participants' in Austria and Switzerland who vote for potential Nazis! Or the ones in France who either don't vote or when they vote they cause the scare of Jean Marie Le Pen becoming the President, almost?!!

Yes, maybe uncivilized and barbaric, and thugish Iranians like us should be warned that: All these are just exceptions! The examples will come down on you in the form of bombs of democracy to make you more civilized, especially in a world that China with its fantastic record of human rights is enjoys the most-favoured state and Taiwan is a piece of ....! And Cuba is real cause for an American Preparation H.

Mordeem as bas pozeh moft khordeem!

Ajoreh Deevaretooneem!

Hot Chocolate at January 14, 2004 05:53 PM [permalink]:

Part of the problem is that "reformist" does not have a clear "meaning" in present Iranian political atmosphere, (although it has fairly clear references!). As a reaction to disqualification of many citizens, one of these so-called reformist said that the supreme leader is probably not so happy with what GC did! So he probably cares more about supreme leader's unhappiness than the injustice done to many citizens.
Also we shouldn't have any problem with "Ghom's clerics comming to Tehran", whatever that means. They are players of this power game after all and are certainly entitle to take legal action.
Politicians (everywhere) may use "human rights" to justify their positions and actions, but then they do whatever they wanted to do at the first place! (Look at the pro-choice and pro-life arguments in abortion case for instance, both ostensibly relying on basic human's rights)

Mehrad at January 14, 2004 10:49 PM [permalink]:

Dear Hossein,

There is a sharp line between 1.trabsofrming the structure from within and 2.changing it from outside.

Honestly, I do not think the second choice would be wise (if possible at all) regarding realities in present Iran. There are lots of cultural problems and infrastructural shortages that makes it too hard to believe anything like a democracy would rise from the rubbles of the Islamic Republic.

And about the first choice; in fact, the so called reformists are themselves subjects of this structure. Obviously, they don't mean to destruct it.

Regarding people, it is not so much different from what we do all the way through our lives: We have to choose! Even with a threat of MPs' "betrayal", I think people should support them. At the end of the day, these are the only available cards to play with. Anything that might result in a 7th parliament silmilar to 4th or 5th, I believe, must be avoided.

BTW, remember it is only 6-7 years since the whole reformist thing has begun. (I mean overt movement.)

King Kong at January 15, 2004 04:46 PM [permalink]:

Didn't some psychologist say that there are five stages of grief following the death of someone we love? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Denial was the first two years, believing that something could be accomplished even when nothing was happening. Anger came in the form of the 1999 riots. Bargaining was shown by Khatami's second election and all the open letters and threats to disengage that people made. Now we're at depression.

Hopefully we can reach acceptance soon and start honestly evaluating our political options without having our minds occupied by an internal reform movement that never really existed.

Señor Græd at January 15, 2004 05:21 PM [permalink]:

Too bad I'm in the mood to write a few lines, Honk Kong, I mean Ping Pong, sorry King Kong. First of all, a nice observation, indeed, and thanks a lot for sharing the cynical perspective.

However, when someone's dead, when the heart stops, then, it's a scientifically proven fact (I think) that s/he cannot be revived. So yes, first comes "denial": How could this *person*, this person that we chatted with, cared about, or made passionate love to, be gone forever?

But what you call "Denial" in retrospect and in the context of Iranians' reform movement, was back then perhaps better termed as "Hope". We, the peopel, were hopeful. To be sure, perhaps immaturely optimistic about the realities of Iran and its capacity for change. As for "Anger", it's always been there. It's part of being human, together with lust, greed, envy, etc, not necessarily in that order! But of course, when you're beat up for no reason and thrown out of your dorm room, you can be expected to experience some level of anger. Also, "Bargaining" in the context of bereavment, the way I understand it, means something altogether different from what was carried out by writing letters. "Depression" is a part of life in Iran, as well as the life of Iranians abroad.

So all these terms have such a broad range of meaning (I'm sure linguists have a special term for that, such as domain of something) that you can force them to mean what you want! But I agree that we need to accept, that is, to learn from the experience and balance our expectations next time around.

Wessie at January 16, 2004 12:59 AM [permalink]:

[editor: Comment removed once by mistake; my apologies!]

". . . The examples will come down on you in the form of bombs of democracy to make you more civilized, . ."

Daashetoon, you need to be mindful, anyone who attacks the US will get bombed! Islam attacked the US on 9/11 and numerous times before that. Don't EVER forget that Muslims started this sh**!!! Muslims support Islamic terror with zakat. Iran has supported plenty as a state.

We don't really give a fig what you do in your part of the world—or whether you all murder one another until Doomsday. Just don't bring Islamic terror to the civilized world. :-D

"However, when someone's dead, when the heart stops, then, it's a scientifically proven fact (I think) that s/he cannot be revived. So yes, first comes "denial": How could this *person*, this person that we chatted with, cared about, or made passionate love to, be gone forever?"

Not really, Majesty. The brain is the key in the modern world. You are not "dead" until brain dead. Often the heart can be restarted with a defibrillator.

As for anger and depression—from where I sit that seems to be the state of the ME all the time. Muslims can't seem to get happy and get moving to help themselves into modernity.

Why is that? I believe it is because Islam says don't live now, wait for paradise. "Inshallah"—That promotes indolence and nihilism—which certainly reign in the Islamic world. Everyone is running around screaming, "the sky is falling" and no one is willing to take the reins and lead the people out of their self-made, miserable, dark pit. They just want to blame the rest of the world for their failed states.

BTW—Hong Kong's handle reminded me that Hong Kong is a good example of what determined people can do with few resources under democracy. I know it's not "real" democracy—but, it's better than what's in the ME. Very rich place—Hong Kong.

Hossein said: "I don't think Iranian youth would engage in the current political row unless they see a real change in reformists platform, which could translate to a collective call for changing the constitution or something as politically significant."

Who is going to make a change if not Iranians and other Muslims in their respective lands? Who? Apathy will get them more of the same or worse.

Like I said, we don't care what you all do to each other anymore. We are tired! It's called "compassion fatigue" and "donor fatigue." As long as you don't export your repression and anarchy to civilization you can sink or swim—as you choose. If you come to the West, you need to live by our secular rules. Don't like it? Think the West is not "really" free because you can't have it all your way? Leave!


Wessie at January 17, 2004 03:40 PM [permalink]:

"Comment removed as irrelevant, according to FToI Comment Policy, Rule 2."

Amazing! Typical.

Iranians/Muslims come here for free speech. But, just like the theocratic mullahs, they censor whatever THEY believe to be irrelevant.

There are scores of "irrelevant" comments on any thread. But, apparently "someone" only picks on certain ones—just like the mullahs. LOL

Isn't decades of censorship enough? Why do you bring it with you?

This sort of thing is what Westerners find tiresome—the free speech for some and not for others. In the end, we shall just leave you to your own devices.

Oh well. Knock yourselves out! You will get nowhere fast with this method of the thought police.


Wessie at January 17, 2004 03:43 PM [permalink]:

And just for the RECORD—The comment WAS indeed relevant, relating to reforms in Iran and the French comments regarding the elections.

The Echo of Wessie's Voice at January 18, 2004 03:16 AM [permalink]:

Are we running a country here, Wessie? Talks at all talking events are regulated one way or another. What matters for free speech is the availability of the tools of talk, which is quite so: the web, all web is your arena of talking, and the tools are not controlled by anyone.

But it's okay if you don't get that, for a person like what you have revealed of yourself so far. As you said and The Echo echoes: "Typical!"

Inquisitive at January 18, 2004 03:22 AM [permalink]:

Wessie, would you please specify where exactly you were talking about "reforms" in Iran, and "the French comments regarding the election" in your comment? I'm kinda dumb, bear with me please!

Wessie at January 18, 2004 09:40 AM [permalink]:

"But it's okay if you don't get that, for a person like what you have revealed of yourself so far. As you said and The Echo echoes: "Typical!""

HA, HA, HA, HA,HA, HA, HA, HA,HA, HA, HA, HA,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What you have revealed of yourselves is to be a bunch of effete, whining, privileged Middle Easterners who are not willing to do what it takes to fix the mess that YOU have made in YOUR lands.

You imagine yourselves so superior to the West. But, you can't think yourselves out of a paper bag as evidenced by the misery, poverty and backwardness in your part of the world.

Inquisitive, if you want the comment back then get the administrator to restore it. I don't have time for this BS!

Give the rest of the world one good reason why we should care about the likes of you if you are not willing to help yourselves?

You all have a nice life in Iran or wherever—just make sure you go back. And learn to spell "p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y." ;-)

JFTDMaster at January 18, 2004 03:34 PM [permalink]:
Wessie, why so harsh? Yes the region has lots of problems right now, and that means problems for the West... but that doesn't mean you should take your frustration about it on students and others here.. many hereseem interested in real change. Are you trying to have a rational discussion about what Iranians should do, or vent? And what do you achieve by throwing insults at Iranians? National pride is healthy if not excessive, and can be used to bring about change too. Here's an article from the Jerusalem Post. Jan. 15, 2004 Learning to love Islam By YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI In recent months I've had a strange and moving e-mail correspondence with my friend Irshad Manji. Irshad, a young Toronto journalist whose Indian-born parents fled Uganda after Idi Amin's takeover, has recently published a book called The Trouble with Islam, which takes the form of an extended open letter to her fellow Muslims. It's passionate, courageous, and astonishingly funny - just like Irshad herself. Irshad's provocative point is contained in her title: The "trouble" isn't only with Islamism but with mainstream Islam itself. The glorification of jihad, the subjugation of women, the relegation of Jews and Christians to permanent inferior status (dhimmitude) - all are expressions of normative Islam. Irshad is particularly outraged at Arab - and, by extension, Muslim - hatred of Israel. She understands what most of the world does not: that the Arab world's antipathy toward Israel is a monstrous attempt to deflect onto the Jewish state the terrible failure of its own civilization. And she has taken the time to examine all the little lies that together form the new big lie: that the Arab world is the innocent victim of a rapacious Israel. Irshad notes the destructive role Islamic theology has played in the Arab-Israeli conflict. According to normative Islam, no non-Muslim sovereignty can be tolerated in lands once ruled by Islam. While that Islamic principle applies, for example, to Spain as well as to Israel, in Israel's case the offense is immeasurably greater, since the Jewish state is located in the Muslim heartland. For years, many Israelis tried to deny the profound religious aspects of this conflict. And for good reason: A conflict over borders can be rationally negotiated, while a religious war can only be fought until one side concedes defeat. Yet after three years of jihadist terrorism, it's no longer possible to deny the religious overtones of this struggle. For if the intifada were merely a national uprising against occupation rather than a religious war against Jewish sovereignty, why haven't any of the suicide bombers been Palestinian Christians? Islam, it is true, does make room under its rule for Jews and Christians - but that's precisely the problem. The operative phrase is "under its rule." The trouble with Islam's tolerance, then, is that it is essentially medieval. For Islam to grow, at least part of the faith needs to develop a modern model of religious pluralism as large parts of Christianity and Judaism have done in recent decades. As a friend, as an Israeli, I cherish Irshad. With the publication of her book, Irshad has joined the moral elite of those ready to risk their lives for truth. Still, for all my deep appreciation for Irshad, she and I have an ongoing argument. And what's poignant about our e-mail debates is that I, a religious Jew, have been trying to convince her about the need to emphasize not only Islam's problems but ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Cassandra at January 19, 2004 12:54 PM [permalink]:

Moved to WessLog!

Richard Bean at January 22, 2004 06:49 AM [permalink]:

Hot Chocolate wrote:

Part of the problem is that "reformist" does not have a clear "meaning" in present Iranian political atmosphere.

Perhaps "Reformist" means "someone who wants to be elected and then hang on to their privileged position at any cost". "Election" is the word without any meaning now, so "reformist" is losing its meaning. Semiotics is a complex science.

"Conservative" is getting a bit meaningless in Iran too: [Mr Larijani] described himself as a "liberal conservative." (?!?!) Many Americans thought "compassionate conservative" was an oxymoron, when Bush started using it. Now that Iranian "conservatives" are making both these words meaningless, Bush's dichotomy between elected and unelected Iranian officials describes the situation better.

Even if "Gol Agha" was still around, Iranians wouldn't need to read it - political life in Iran now is a satire of itself!