The cover of the 26th print of the book by Ganji that is thought to be the major cause for his imprisonment, "The Red Eminence, The Grey Eminences (the pathology of the transition to developing demacratic govenment)."
I have been holding my breath since the election results were clear. I was dismayed by the results then, and even considered shutting this part of my life down in favour of more rewarding activities of which there is no shortage. But I was discouraged even more by the aim and target of some of my friends, and indeed almost all so-called reformist politicians, activists, journalists, etc. who have since become ever more active to persuade us to vote for Hashemi Rafsanjani. In all this it seems only a principled lawyer and human rights activist such as Shirin Ebadi is able to keep her mind together.
I remain convinced that the road to democracy in Iran does not go through the supervised elections of the Islamic Repubic, all the less through this run-off. The reasons are the same as the ones given before by great thinkers such as Akbar Ganji. Even if I agreed hypothetically that voting against Ahmadi Nejad is the right thing to do, there would remain issues that are being inevitably pushed aside in this frenzy of campaiging for votes turned into a matter of life and death. This shift of focus can prove even more dangerous than the presidency of Ahmadi Nejad, which in any case would naturally place heavy costs on the anti-democratic camp itself. I could not hold the deep breath any more, so here I would like to register a few of these sacrificed issues, at least for the record and future reference.
1. Elections in Iran are just a façade. This is the most important item sacrificed in the campagin for votes against Ahmadi Nejad. The real power structure in Iran does not depend much on the outcome of elections. The shots are called mostly by the unelected bodies, especially on the most sensitive issues. This is exemplified by both run-off candidates. Rafsanjani is the head of the Expediency Assembly by the Leader's decree and has always had great influence and (political and economic) power. Ahmadi Nejad represents the military forces of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Basij both under the direct supervision of the unelected Leader and is reportedly supported by his appointees in the Guardian Council. This structure of power would not go away even if Moeen was elected.
2. Rafsanjani is L'Eminence Rouge. This truism is the other direct victim of this fierce campaigning. If 20 out of 30 million participants vote for Rafsanjani in the run-off (a scenario not so implausible) he would have a mandate as large as Khatami's. Given his position and history, he would be able, unlike Khatami, to use this quite effectively for his agenda. Do not expect that to be anything you may like.
3. Fascism in Iran does not end with Ahmadi Nejad's defeat. Fascistic methods were in use even before the revolution of 1979 culminated in ousting the Shah's last prime minitser, Bakhtiar. Indeed it was the way the mullahs succeeded in consolidating their powers against their rivals after the revolution. That Fascistic consolidation of power is still present. Even if Ahmadi Nejad is accepted to be the only one between the two candidates that would be bringing back the danger of Islamic Fascism to Iran, one must not forget that he and his friends in the Guards Corps and Basij are and will remain in the real structure of power even if defeated in the run-off.
4. Iran is not France. I can't but laugh at the proliferation of this analogy between France's last run-off and Iran's. Is it the wish that Iran were France, I ask myself, that makes people ignore all the facts against such laughable analogy or simply the poetic nature of Iranians mingled with their political thinking? Whatever the reason, once our friends are done, successfully or not, with getting the votes they can for their, in their own words, less-than-ideal candidate, they must only face the reality of Iran (and not France) and that is that they are living in a theocracy ruled by the likes of Rafsanjani himself.
5. Ganji is dying. Finally, the most disasterous side effect of this election circus is that the trembling voices of true champions of freedom such as Ganji and Zarafshan and many more unlawful captives in Islamic Republic's prisons, and even possibly their bodies are buried under the noise. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if one-tenth of the effort put into vote campaiging today had been spent on campaiging for the freedom of Ganji, Zarafshan, and their colleagues, or indeed, for that matter, for the true freedom and the true democracy in Iran. Would they still elude us?