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June 22, 2006

Ganji's lesson
Babak Seradjeh  [info|posts]

Akbar Ganji smiles after receiving Florence honorary citizenship, in Florence, Italy, Monday, June 12, 2006. (Photo: AP Photo/Lorenzo Galassi)

Akbar Ganji who was "playing with death" last summer is now a free man. Not just a free man, he is an international figure. He has been given numerous awards for his brave journalism and for his advocacy of human rights by various international groups world wide (WAN Golden Pen Award, Honourary Citizen of Florence, Martin Ennals Award, ...). Fortunately for him and, in my opinion, the people of Iran, he has also managed to get the Iranian government's permission to go abroad. I suspect that the officials were hoping he would choose to stay there and become an exile, like many others, after what he suffered, and be less of a nuisance—something he rejected out of hand promptly in his interviews. He is attending the ceremonies in which he is honoured and he is using the opportunity to speak out with no hesitation whasoever for democracy and human rights in Iran, and for peaceful ways of attaining these basic demands. When faced with questions about the current Iranian nuclear crisis and a possible military intervention, unlike his Nobel-winning lawyer, he does not issue edicts on other people's behalf, but takes a very reasonable stance: that he cannot imagine advocating something that would destroy his dear Iran. And he is right. We cannot, and that is exactly why we want freedom, democracy, and human rights.

As someone who has followed the news related to Ganji's case ever since he was writing enlightening reports and articles in reformist newspapers in Tehran (for which he endured six years in jail) I think there is a big lesson for me and my compatriats in Ganji's story. Many people in Iran, who are fed up with the situation, and know in their mind or feel in their guts that they want freedom, argue or think at the same time that there is nothing that they can do. In a sense that is right. What can one do before violent thugs who are ready to beat up, and the mighty government apparatus that is geared at charging, whoever dares to show at a well-supported peaceful gathering? It is as if one is before an invincible machine that is programmed to take as much freedom away from people as possible.

And yet there is something that one can do: not to give up! That is, I think, the big lesson of Ganji's story.

Even a single man who was quarantined and isolated from the outside world in solitary cells for many years, can still do something, be recognized for it, and find his freedom, too. It's the power of truth that shall be doing for us what we cannot do individually ourselves. Sometimes, all we can and should do, is not to give up. Then, eventually, as we stand for our rights, the whole world will stand by us.

a Duoist at June 22, 2006 10:50 PM [permalink]:

It is wonderful to see a very brave man who loves his country speak with so much quiet dignity. His example must be inspiring to other Iranians, and also be a considerable embarrassment to those who imprisoned him.

I long before Iranians, like Ganji, begin to wear 'Persian Blue' ribbons or fly Persian Blue flags, as a symbol of Iran's freedom?

AIS at June 23, 2006 05:51 PM [permalink]:
Great Post. Indeed this is wonderful news. When I compare it with last year and all the terrible days when he was nearing his death I can't help but feel hopeful and grateful. He definitely deserves all this and much more than this. (unlike some Nobel laureates who git it for mere political reason and have proven time after time that they didn't deserve a thousandth of it...) Following his own demand to be criticized I think it is indeed important to balance our praises with reasonable criticism so that we could show that we are indeed different from the Khatami-type pro reformist idiots. I personally find some of his new positions problematic. He says war can't bring democratic culture. That is true but trivial. that was never the issue. The point was that the Islamic republic is such a fascistic system, it is so out of time even with the standards of the ME is restricting freedoms, political, social or even private freedoms, that might be necessary to use force to get this main "unnatural" obstacle out of the way, so that the real reform long time procedure of shaping a Democratic and liberal culture and society can just begin in earnest. Kind of like being trapped in a local minimum. Getting out of it does not mean having reached the real maximum of the function, just that now the gradual ascent can seriously be undertaken. He is not addressing that, instead attacking and defeating a straw man . Indeed recent historical evidence disprove this naive approach. Germany, Japan, Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq are all clear proofs why sometimes force is indeed necessary for the eventual establishment of liberal democracy. If he disagree with the special case of Iran, he has to give real rational arguments and evidence for it, not such worn cliches. The other thing that I find a bit odd is his insistence on republic as the only acceptable form the world over. Indeed many great democracies are constitutional monarchies, like Britain, Sweden, Japan or even Canada! What is the point of this meaningless insistence. It is counterproductive because the shape of future government whether a republic or a constitutional monarchy is not the real issue, but the way its constitution is written, that it be a liberal democratic constitution, that is essential, so by insisting this he is alienating unnecessarily a part of opposition who are actually more prone to liberalism than say our fossilized left. The other issue is this insistence on "forgive but not forget". It is a correct direction to go, but IMHO it must be balanced by a demand for trial and justice to the top criminals in charge. It is not a matter of not forgiving,but that the crime has been so deep and the wound so deep that our society can't be back to normal functioning unless this matter is dealt with with enough clarity. How else can we demand from individuals to put their lives in work to institute and push our society forward, once we get read of this system, when in our recent history those who did this were executed after a stupid fundamentalist revolution and the executioners were forgiven and given free hand in the free Iran. Trial and possible execution of major criminal, the top guys, is not a revenge or a continuation of bloodshed. It is a necessary justice to give the psychological insurance to all of our society that it is NOT the case that good people who fight will be victimized and those who murder and destroy will go free and rewarded. It is like the logic in Nuremberg ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
AIS at June 23, 2006 05:53 PM [permalink]:


Blue flag, "blue" revolution. That is a great idea.

Babak S at June 23, 2006 07:24 PM [permalink]:


I also think it is important to criticise any proposals, and I am happy that you are doing that. Indeed Ganji has himself always called for his ideas to be criticised and his welcoming manner shows that he is genuine.

The proper response to your objections must of course be provided by Ganji himself. But, I have a few points on your specific criticisms:

As to a possible path to democracy through war with a fascisitc government, I think you are right in general. From what I have read in Ganji's writings, I think he would also agree with you. For instance, in his second manifesto, and also in his recent speech in Iran for the anniversary of the 2-Khordad (election of Khatami in 1997) he quoted Popper as saying
"I am not in all cases and under all circumstances against a violent revolution. I believe with some medieval and Renaissance Christian thinkers who taught the admissibility of tyrannicide that there may indeed, under a tyranny, be no other possibility, and that a violent revolution may be justified. But I also believe that any such revolution should have as its only aim the establishment of a democracyI think he believes in this as well. But, as a matter of practice, which I guess is justified in the case of Iran today, he has taken on himself to reject violent methods in the struggle for freedom in Iran. He sees this as the heart of the social and political problems in Iran. The justification against the war comes mainly from the very poor performance of the Americans and their allies in Iraq, who completely missed the major part of their operation, which was establishing oder after the military victory. This situation is very different from the WWII, for instance, where Hitler's army had already shown to be a major threat to humanity when the US entered the war. So, then a military victory was an end in itself as well.

Another thing on the same subject which is important is that Ganji does not, in fact, use the worn cliches of the anti-war movements (so far at least). Instead, as I wrote in the post, he insists on rejecting what would bring the sort of destruction and chaos to his country that we observe in Iraq. His way of opposing the war, is to call for the protection of human rights and for a democartic movement in Iran, instead of pointless manifestos against, say, the US.

On his insistence on Republic, I am with you. But there is also a matter of history that should be noticed. I think his insistance on Republic is born out of debates on the "Islamic Republic." Having rejected a religious government, he was left with the Republic. But it would be nice if he would clarify his position vis a vis other forms of democratic governments.

On his motto of "forget and fogive" I disagree with your emphasis. I think, it is important to follow this idea if we are serious in building a humane society, right from the beginning of a successful democratisatioin process. I don't think this means that the criminals should not be punished, or go free without paying. But we should set our objective to be reconciliation, and social healing, instead of inflciting deeper wounds. Our attitudes towards this issue makes a big difference in the outcome of the process. For instance, I would support putting the criminals to a locally coordinated, but international court. But, these issues are far away in the future.

AIS at June 24, 2006 02:02 AM [permalink]:


I agree with you that Ganji has been indeed calling for international support of the domestic democractic movement, in contrast to the usyal anti-war crwod, and I do resp;ect him for that. I also see your point about his choice of non violent resistance. My criticism is about the way he is putting it "war does not bring democratci culture" period. As I said, he should instead give his specific reasons why this in this country at this time would be counterproductive, instead of such generalized terms. These things are important in the long run. there is a difference from what you say and what a general ban on wars. I'm happy that you directed me towards the Popper quot. It is very significant. Nevertheless it is still about violent revolutiosn and not outside war, so I think Ganji should clarify this point. Is he against all wars at all times that are fought to bring in democracy or as you mentioned it is this specific point of time that makes war a poor choice.

I see your point also about the possible context for his using the term "republic" so insistantly. But his world of discourse is now way beyond the islamist reformist small looser circle now and he shoudl be able to keep up with the changes.

As for "forgiveness". Again as I said I agree with the general attitude, but I still think limited but clear cut justice is essential. Look, precisely because after this regime is gone we won't be anywhere near a democratic liberal system, but only at the very beginning of the road towards it that this is important. We would need many individuals who would be willing to take the risk of gong against the stream and propose revolutionary, "heretical", ideas and stand by them. But when an education minister is executed brutally just because the "heretical" theory of evolution was being taught at schools under his provision, when a thinker like Kasravi is knifed down for expressing clear cut crticisms... if all of this goes away unpunished, if no one is brought to justice for all the crimes that has been committed, the prevelant "wisdom" of the masses to do your own business and be the same color as the public to remain secure will never be challenged hard enough. There needs to be a precedent for all the future generatiosn to see the true modernizing individuals be restored to their right place and once, just once, the murdering fascists, the few perpesentative heads, clearly brought to bear the result of their crimes. Even in the constitutional revolution this was the case. Why was the fascistic master mind Fazlolah Nouri hanged? That was a necessity. It was a great victory and we are all benefinting from that even to this day.
Vene from the parctical point of view this utopian demand is ill advised. Look at the riots in Azerbaijan, in Kurdistan and in Khuzistan. There is unfortunately a lot of hatered , anger and pain roaming around just under the layer. If this finds no outlet what so ever, it could very well get out of hand. By restricting the retribution to a handful of real top ones, this anger can be directed and controled. Otherwise such lofty calls will just go unnoticed buried under a rubble of uncontrolable rage and revenge.

AIS at June 24, 2006 05:30 AM [permalink]:

Actually the more I think of this "forgive.." motto the more meaningless it seems to me.
Who are we to forgive the crimes done on others? Those who could have foirgiven are killed and thus dead.
On the other hand, if someone kills one person he/she is tired and if convicted punished. How is it at all reasonable to then change this to forgiveness for someone who has killed thousands, destroyed entire generatiosn and so on?! It is like the Indian proverb:..kill one man and you are a murderer, kill a thousand and you are a hero (or forgiven in our case)

I think this is entirely misleadinga nd irrelevant. The main issue is I think not to take revenge. Not to continue the bloodshed, of killings by those new comers to power, to break the cycle.
I totally agree with this. 100%.
That also makes sense with the everyday murderers. The trial and conviction of a murderer in a civilized state is not an act of revenge.

So using meaningless (at least to me) terminology of "forgiveness" is very ill advised and can even be considered as an insulting demand on the victims and their families. Where as standing firm for civilized action and against the temptation of revenge is exactly what serves that purpose and is our urgent need.

AIS at June 24, 2006 09:00 PM [permalink]:

I am happy that we are not alone in keeping up the critical tradition.
I just found these:
1 and 2

This is really wonderful!

(OT, OT, OT:
BTW, I just wanted to congratulate all those who were repeating the mantra of legitimacy of Un versus US in Iraqr and elsehwhere. With the accpetance of the criminla butcher Mortazavi in the new UN Human rights council or whatever as IRI's representative. I hope you are all enjoying the beauties of such "international community" type legitimacies.

And in case you think the regime is beyond shame, that is not the only face of it. Read the article of Mr. Gouchanui in Sharq to see how far the shamelessness and nerves of these "politicians" and their prostitu...supporters go, where he calls himself and his likke who do nothing but serve and prostiite themselves and seduce others to do teh same for the likes of corrupt criminal godfathers like Rafsnajani as upholders of "morality" versus those who boycotted the elections who are "immoral traitor Hamed Karzais". You thought Ahmadinejad is the only populist here?
I'm so proud of the boycott to have given this army of lies and deciets so well such a blow for once in the past 27 years to make them cry of pain like this. )

AIS at June 25, 2006 10:28 PM [permalink]:

Well, Ganji seems to have said very clearly that he won't cooperate with consitutional monarchists. The reason he has given is that this stands againsth the principle of equality of all citizens.
This is a lame and nonsense excuse. Equality in liberal thought is equality of opportunities. The royal title in a constitunal monarchy with democratic constitution is just a hereditary title with no power, so it does nothing of the sort. If that were the case Ganji should also fight to abolish the system of inheritance liek communists, because there also the child of a wealthy parent inherits money (and actually power) whereas a child of a poor family does not.

I persoanly am not a monarchist and I think monarchy has very little chance in future of Iran and a democratic liberal republic is most probably the best and most pragmatic form to fight for. Also the majority of the monarchists are quite dumm and well behind the modern situation and ideals and soem of the fanatics there are no better than the hizbollahi's (well, perhaps just abit better!). But there are rational voices among them, albeit in minority, and more over they have a lot of money and resources thath can be used.
Anyway I for one am not going to accept such ad hoc "commands" to exclude a portion of Iranian opinion and forces. This is against every tenet of liberalism and libertarianism. Given the present situation it is also a very stupid move where he himself emphasises correctly the need ofr coming together of all democratic liberal opposition forces.

At least he shoud give real rational reasons why in the specific case of Iran constitutional monarch is say dangerous and won't remain law abiding etc before such definitive position.
He is falling in the same trap of inconsistencies and half baked truths as the reformists. I hope he can get out of it in time.
I remember him at the book festival back in 1998. He was asked ho whe supports struggling for democracy under the present regime with the vali faghih being a lawul position. Back then he said with the same absolute conviction that it is no problem, we can simply devoid it of real power and keep it up there. Years of prison finally has opened his eye in that regard. I just hope he can manage to realise his logical inconsistencies and faults this time without the need of more jail time. Otherwise the same power of truth that wasmentioned at the end of this post will push him out to the forgotten margines the same way it did with Khatami and others.

Babak S at June 26, 2006 12:21 AM [permalink]:


You have generated quite a formidable body of comments here. I am happy someone is reading this post!

I have a few things to say, meant as a part of discussion and not final opinion:
As I said, he should instead give his specific reasons why this [war] in this country at this time would be counterproductive, instead of such generalized terms I think it should be the other way around: the general principle is that war is not a preference. If it is needed in a case, its net advantages should be argued in each specific case. In the case of Iran, it seems to me that there is no net advantage at this time.

On the "forgive but not forget," my understanding is that it is supposed to set the tone and attitude and not to replace justice in cases where the evidence is overwhelming. For instance, there are many little injustices done in connection with the old order that would not be dealt with in any other way, for instance in a court case. Consider the bitterments and injustices done by neighbours on each other, in the course of everyday lives; say, one may have used his family connections in some government office to grab a piece of the other one's property. Usually these are not the sort of things that may be presented in a court, since they may not even have been technically illegal at the time. And even if they were, community relations may not allow them. If they are, on the other hand, they may increase tensions in the society. The preferred way is to set up reconciliation task forces, that would seek mutual understanding, and perhaps order an affordable redemption fee or something of the sort. This social healing process is very important for the future health of the society. Though criminal codes may be written without the objective of revenge, many court cases are driven by that emotion. But as I said, in my understanding this is supposed to take care of the plethora of such cases in the bulk of the society.

On Ganji's comment on constitutional monarchists, he should speak for himself. But I would say, it is not so clear to me what's the balance of advantage vs. disadvantage of trying to use their resources at the tangible risk of dealing with their illiberal fanatics who have the upper hand over even Reza Pahlavi, their crown prince, who looks more reasonable among them.

And here is a piece of opinion:

I agree with you that Ganji needs to address inconsistencies in his thinking, and I agree that there a few. But I tend to think they are of a lesser importance and on rather minor issues compared to the consistencies that he has achieved over the years and the general direction of advocating real freedoms (including economic freedoms) that he has now chosen. Whatever the fate of Ganji, I don't think he will be pushed to the forgotten margins of history, not the least for his courage and honesty.

AIS at June 26, 2006 04:12 AM [permalink]:

These might be minor inconsistencies for you. For me they are actually extremely major ones.
The hell with monrachists. this is not about Monarchists per se. It is about the principal notion of Liebralism. This is very serious.
He asks for all of us to come together in these dire times. Then he excludes one group from the onset. Of course he has to give some lame excuse for that but tha was ridiculous. So not only is he constinuing the main issue of "khodi" and "gheyr-e khod" one of us and not one of us once more, he is not being honest and open about the real ideological reasons he is doing this for. Now it is the monarchists. Where will this ad hoc boundary ultimately stop?!

To me this is much more important than all the defense of free market captalism or habermas post liberalism or the like.

He says he is proud of being "anti-revolutionary" yet still defends the 1979 revolution as necessary and inevitable.
He still insists Khomeini had continously stated his doctrin of legitimacy of people's vote his entire life all during teh first decade and this is an utter LIE. Actually the continous comparison with Khomeini is itself worrisome for someone who is calling himself an unapologetic liberal.
Nothing has really started yet. There are just a few prizes and the failings and cracks do not look good.

I said this back then when Shirin Ebadi had been given the Nobel prize. I have had enough experience of self deception and finding inenious excuses for Khatami in those years. It will NEVER be repeated in my case. Of course I am just one small voice, one insignificanty individual , but that is the way it is going to be for this individual.
I will never become anyone's follower again. I will support right stances and people who make them, as long as they are standing by it. The last thing I will do is again start to exuse other peoples' shortcomings and try to manipulate and justify the nonsense they speak. That's it.

I sincerely wish for him not to slide down this road as others have done before him. His only real asset is his right ideas and his honesty, and the way they are being traded off so early on does not look good on him.
that's all.

Babak S at June 26, 2006 12:44 PM [permalink]:


1. Should Ganji (or other advocates of freedom) cooperate with Khatami's party? or Karrubi's party? Why?

2. Should Ganji (or other advocates of freedom) cooperate with the Communists ("The Way of Labourer," etc.)? Why?

3. Should Ganji (or other advocates of freedom) cooperate with the MKO? Why?

4. Should Ganji (or other advocates of freedom) cooperate with the Monarchists? Why?

AIS at June 26, 2006 03:03 PM [permalink]:

Ganji (or other advocates of freedom) should cooperate with anyone that is for a secular non-ideological (ie. liberal) democracy. Period.

(It is interesting is it not that Ganji still actually does include your number 1. in all his rhetorics, though they are neither for secularism, nor democracy.)

Babak S at June 26, 2006 04:17 PM [permalink]:


Okay, so it should be. Arguably neither of these 4 categories stand for liberal ideals, with some exceptions for number 1 and 4. So, cooperating with them would be a matter of either practical diplomacy, or historical context.

Now put the facts into their contexts. Ganji is not a lone tree on an island. He has evolved from within the number 1. So it is all but natural that he has friends in this group, both in the ordinary sense of the word, and also as intellectual mates. But he has been extremely critical of this group. He has clearly shown their methods to be inconsistent, and detrimental to the ideals of freedom in Iran. (Just look at his latest speech in Iran for 2-Khordad.) However, group 1 is the closest among all that you may have to what we call a democratic movement in Iran, with clear voices among them for a democratic state. Group 4 on the other hand, is very vague in its goals and its composition. Many of their adherents, use the pretext of democracy as a means to return to the power and their nostalgic past. The younger ones are very hard-headed. Their face, Reza Pahlavi, is clearly a democrat, but one that is not ready to accept the wrongs of his family in exactly the same context. Of course, we may say, he is not responsible for his father's actions, and that is true. But as the figurehead of a political group based on his family stature, he must say what he thinks of the past. That would be a reference, however unreliable given Iran's conditions, for future should his followers push for illiberal forms of government.

Given all this, I do not see how I can demand that Ganji or any other advocate of freedom, simply announce he is going to cooperate with this group 4. Such an anouincement must come as a result of some negotiation and compromise. He may still have a chance on that in his trip to the US, of course. Being in Iran, on the other hand, he has no other choice but to deal with group 1, whom he has constantly criticized. Also, do not forget that many in this group 1, have already joined the ranks of those outside even their now ousted party. People like Kadivar, Haghighatjoo, Mousavi-Khoini (Jr.), ... .

Do you have an alternative approach?

Babak S at June 26, 2006 04:30 PM [permalink]:

By the way, I do not see the issue of "khodi" (with us) and "gheir-e khodi" (against us) in Ganji's statements. Not in the sense that is the substance of the concept. Is it not true that by "... should cooperate with anyone that is for a secular non-ideological (ie. liberal) democracy. Period." you are also drawing a line? That line is there, is real. What is important is what you intend to do with it. It does not mean that those who are not for "liberal democracy" do not have their rights as citizens, but only that they would belong to a different (opposing) political camp, with whome advocates of freedom won't cooperate. I don't see anything more than this in Ganji's staements. In fact, he has clearly stated he would defend their civil rights.

Self at June 27, 2006 03:08 AM [permalink]:

I'm beginning to think that this idiot has Mullahs' agenda up in his nasty sleeves

He is mullahs agent

AIS at June 27, 2006 09:15 PM [permalink]:
Babak, I'm sorry to say that all your comment is nothing but an attempt to "justify" and "white wash" ganji's position and this is by itself the wrong approach. I answer your points from the last: By delineating non-ideological democrats I am also making a distinction between an "us" and a "them". You could put it that way, but mine is the maximal such set, precisely because it has the criteria of "non-ideology" and "liberal democracy" both of which are maximal inclusive sets in their respective contexts. The point is that Ganji's is deliberately avoiding the maximal set, and thsi makes it an ideological distinction that goes against the foundation of liberalism and what he claims he is representing (and is NOT). Sorry but there are no two ways about this. As for majority of monarchists being hot headed and all that, this is essentially true abouot all Iranian political fractions, republicans, communists, socialists, mossadeghists(like this idiot for instance: 1 & 2 Mossadeghist nationalists are actually some of the worst fanatics we have nowadays) and of course islamist-reformists (just listen to Behzad nabavi or Hajjarian ... about Khomeini and his path). I mentioned Monarchist idiots just becuase that was what the talk was about otherwise there much worse amoing other groups. In any case, monarchists whether we like it or not constitute a noticable portion of our people and they won't just go away. As I said there is actually a very well organized and active minority among them that are excpetionally reasnoable and democratic minded. The right thing is to engage them and help them take over the bulk of pro-monarchy spectrum and mraginalize the hardliners. What Ganji is doing now, specially in light of the fanaticism of the anti-monarchists, is to exclude them from their right to struggle for their form of government in liberal and democratic means from the onset and this is not OK. Defending their right of speech is not good enough. Futhermore it is simply not true that Ganji is against cooperation with them because of how hardline they are. He opposes constitutional monrachy for ideological reasons and thsi should ring alamr bells for anyone who is willing to trust him as a liberal activist or even leader. True, he had gone along way from his origins, that's why i support those stances he has made, but evidently he has not gone far enough. It is quite clear that there is a direct link between his constant mentioning of Khoemini and his recent stances. This doe snot look good. He is willing to turn about the politicakl structure of the present regime , but he is still clinging to the worn out myth that this would still be in line with the real objectives of 1979 revolution (that he agrees paradoxically most people who had engaged in it did not have!) and the real manifestation of its ideals. This is a lie and nothing but truth is going to help us get of this mess and he is not willing to open his eyes to the whole truth contrary to his nice words. (partly because he was an accomplice in the revolution and its defence t hat has brought us to this catastrophic situation). It is not good that as a result of clinging to lies already a group of our people with liberal democratic inspirations are barred according to him for ideological reasons, so early on. He has come a long way but NOT LONG ENOUGH. There are people liek Sazegara who seem to be further than him and doin much more meaningful (but less pop star like) efforts. T ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
AIS at June 27, 2006 09:48 PM [permalink]:

One more thing:

It is very ill-advised to try to use mind reading and the sort to figure out what was the real "pragmatic and ingenious" objective of Ganji (or anybody else) in what he says and does inorder ro "defend" him or "justify" his actions. If that is your aim, it would be better to go back to mosharekat pseudo-party and the governmental reformists. They are very good in this and do it much more openly and consistently.

He is lonely? needs supporters? Needs defneding? Well, he should DESERVE it first. He shoudl earn it. Over and over again. After all isn't those the very nice "words" he keeps repeating now a days? Well here it is how it looks in reality.

It's simple. Either he can survive by his own merits and the merit of the logic of what he says and the way he acts, which is great. oir lese he fails. And it is better if he does that sooner and alone without dragging yet another generation after him to no mans place.

BTW, here is also a typical mentality of his close and liberal!!!!ALLOWED as well? Some of "these" have gone beyond the revolutio and want away with eth monarchists...


You see where the roots of all these speechs and actions are?
Monarchists, with all their disadvantages have at least the functionality now of acting as a litmus test to measure the sincerity and honesty and consistency of others with it.

AIS at June 27, 2006 09:51 PM [permalink]:

Sorry, part of the excerpt from Hajjarisn word didn't go through. Here it si again:

Saeid Hajjarian (Ganji's liberal heroic friend):
"...I have said we shoudl get over Khatami and over take hime. But is overtaking and going beyond Imam(!) Khomeini and the Revolution ALLOWED as well? Some of "these" have gone beyond the revolution and want away with the monarchists..."


AIS at June 27, 2006 10:42 PM [permalink]:

And to finish this for the moment, as I said the dangerous ideological bends of Ganji, Hajjarian and the like are and should be a source of great concern. Ganji was a member of the guradian corps. He says that he joined to fight the Iraqi army and defend Iran. This can't entirely be correct though. Th eguardian corps was not formed neither did people join it to fight in teh war against iraq. As the name itself shows it was the corps of the guardians of the Islamic revolution and it was formed precisely for that reason, to guard an idelogical islamist revolutionary power against all teh anti-revolutionaries (including revolutionaries who had another idea of the revolution beside it being "islamic").
It is better for gnji to come clean on this.
Of course residing on the past history of people is not the way to buld the future and it is the present stance s of any one that shoudl be the real measure to judge him, given of course that the present stances of these gentlemen finally is cleaned from telling others what is and is not allowed, which groups should or should not be cooperated with solely on ideological grounds and once they stop citing one of the worst fascistic mass murderers of our time like Khomeini to state the legitimacy of any opinion whatso ever.
Otherwise I'm afraid the past history and its influences on the present remain not only relevant but are actually quite important to take note of.

Babak S at June 28, 2006 07:20 PM [permalink]:
AIS, You are mistaken in thinking I am trying to "justify" Ganji's position. But that is the least of your mistakes. First, I have already conceded, in theory, that considering the Republic to be the only form of democracy is a mistake. So, in that I agree that Ganji is indeed mistaken. But you are going much further than that: you are using a pseudo-psychological approach to claim things about Ganji, the person (his link to Khomeini, The Revolutionary Gaurds Corps, etc.) which I don't actually find important practically or valuable intellectually. What is important is that he has expressedly accepted the principles of liberalism. He is mistaken? Yes, but so could be anyone. The way to go at it is to tell him so, and engage him in a debate. Is it possible? Maybe or maybe not; but that is only a problem of communication. Secondly, you claim he is still clinging to the worn out myth that this would still be in line with the real objectives of 1979 revolution (that he agrees paradoxically most people who had engaged in it did not have!) and the real manifestation of its ideals. Where is the reference for this claim? I have a different reference, where he says, The 1979 revolution [of Iran] was the result of a 1970's discourse that was anti-West (anti-imperialist), anti-liberal, anti-democratic, based on a return to our selves ([alternatively] our Islamic, Asian, or communist class-free proletariat self), ideologic, utopian, and revolutionary. We should not think of that revolution as a detour. [...] Therefore, the 1979 revolution was not betrayed. It was the objective realization of the 1970's discourse. The experience of the 1979 revolution guided us all to the fact that without reason and thinking we cannot go past our childhood and become democrat adults. What's more is that you go on to say ... partly because he was an accomplice in the revolution and its defence t hat has brought us to this catastrophic situation ... which is an instance of the pseudo-psychology that I mentioned above, in direct contradiction with this part of your own comment: It is very ill-advised to try to use mind reading and the sort to figure out what was the real "pragmatic and ingenious" objective of Ganji (or anybody else) in what he says and does [...] Third, in the rest of the above quote, you say[...] in order ro "defend" him or "justify" his actions. Do you think the same is well-advised if it was for "attacking" or "unjustifying" his (or anyone's) actions? Fourth, you write What Ganji is doing now, [...] is to exclude them from their right to struggle for their form of government in liberal and democratic means from the onset and this is not OK. Defending their right of speech is not good enough. A few lines below, you have written He is lonely? needs supporters? Needs defneding? Well, he should DESERVE it first. I am speechless by these illuminations. Should a person first "deserve" it for his human rights to be defended? How is it, that a simple expression of opinion by Ganji based on an application of liberal principles (even if faulty, the fact remains that is the basis) is deemed "excluding them from their right..." but suddenly a group who has not even clearly stated their position with respect to an illiberal form of "constitutional monarchy" in which they were the rulers, is "a group of our people with liberal democratic inspirations"? Where is your proof of that? So in your logic, shouldn't they earn it, or deserve it? For sure, ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Babak S at June 28, 2006 07:57 PM [permalink]:

BTW, your link to Iqbal for Hajjarian quote does not work. Is it correct?

AIS at June 29, 2006 08:45 PM [permalink]:
"He is mistaken? Yes, but so could be anyone. The way to go at it is to tell him so, and engage him in a debate. Is it possible? Maybe or maybe not; but that is only a problem of communication." Indeed. Did I say anything different? He is mistaken and I am telling him so (figuratevily speaking). What is your point? It is you who are answering on his behalf, trying to figure out why possibly he might have excluded the monarchists. This is an attempt to justify him that I personally find quite meaningless. Yes, indeed he- or anyone else- has to deserve being supported. Even more so of being followed. Over and over again in anything they say and any position they take. There is no contradiction in hwat i say. there is a section among monarchists that advocate liberal democracy under the form of constitutional monrachy and their stances, speeches and actions do indeed make their stances deserving of support. see here for instance. But my point originally was not even about supporting their actions, but the fact that they do deserve to be included in any liberal coalition, including all the occasions that would arise for debate among the groups whithin such coalition. Ganji is outright denying them this for no good reason and that is unaccpetable. Simple. Specificallyh they agree and aknowledge republic groups and are in favour of forming a coalition with them and they also are willing to leave the decision of the form of government to a referendum for people to decide. Your Ganji is not willing to do this and has already decided what from of government SHOULD be strived for, who SHOULD be excluded because of the already decided form of Givernment by Mr. Ganji personally.... It is simple. Those monrachists, for the time being and based on their stances, do deserve to be included in a liberal democratic coalition. Ganji does NOT desereve, for the moment, to be supported for his dogmatic and ideological anti-liberal stances. You find a contradiction there?! (And I don't see why you try so hard to ignore and white wash this serious deliberate limiting of other people's rights?) I know about what Ganji says whenever the subject of talks goes to this topic. But what he does, his stances and what he says elswhere is contradiction this nice words. You don't see this? He says here that the revolution was not for freedom. Then he says elswhere (in his TV interview with VOA for instance) that the previous regime had to go and the revolution was inevitable. So which way is it now?! Are revolutions by their "essence" anti-liberal and unable to yield democracy (as he has said elsewhere) or are they sometimes inevitable and OK to have been a part of? You seem to be his spokeperson here. Please enlighten us so we wouldn't have to go to pseudo-analysis. He says in one place that what is needed is coming together of opposition groupd who are advocating democracy and then in another place makes a statement that acts as nothing but an impediment to any coming together of groups ( especially since the issue of constitutional monarchy and republic has been a major cause in the lack of unity for 27 years no, any real action would have been to fill the gap not to widen it). You can quote all the nice words all you like and it wouldn't answer my points because they are contradictory to his other statements and more importantly his stances. Khatami and Khomeini all said very nice words as well. Together with other words that contradicted them which pe ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Babak S at June 29, 2006 10:13 PM [permalink]:
AIS, This chain is getting nowhere. Your responses are not easy for me to digest, partly because they are mostly rantings. My questions have gone unanswered. It seems to me we have a subtle difference of opinion, but somehow you seem to be suddenly far away on a remote distance on your conclusions and theories, and especially emotional. In an attempt of undersatding your points (and mine) I am writing down a few questions, which I think sums up all our discussion so far. I ask you to answer them clearly, and I will do the same. This is inevitably repititious, but I don't see another way. Also, you are repeating some of your claims for which I asked you to provide a reference, especially because I have references to the contrary. You have not done that. Am I justifying Ganji's position? Why? Is Ganji's opinion that Republic is the only form of democratic government correct? Are Iranian monarchists liberals? Is Ganji's cooperation with monarchists, monarchists' right? Is Ganji's links to the revolution vital? My answers: 1. No. I have already expressed my agreement, in theory, that Ganji's opinion in the second question is a mistake, and I have no justification for it in the sense you are using. Also, I disclaim any role for myself as a spokesperson for, follower of, Ganji, or such. Every single time you direct such nonsense at me, I feel I must overcome a greater psychological barrier to continue this debate. 2. No. Ganji is wrong. There exist democratic forms of monarchy (and undemocratic forms of republic), in which the onarch has no special entitlement to the exercise of public power. My claim, though, is that he is applying a liberal principle (that no one is entitled to a special share of the public power) mistakenly. He must be responsible for it. However, I disagree with you that this could be as a basis for the rest of your theory as to what Ganji is. 3. Some are, and some not. My point is that, which I think is an important one, in light of the recent history of Iran, the Iranian monarchists, especially the democrats among them , must clearly say what their intended shape of "democratic monarchy of Iran" is, so that a person like me, for instance, be sure that it cannot be abused once the new monarch has secured his position. Does this mean that I think Ganji is then right to exclude them uncricially, and with no possibility of a dialogue for instance? No, and that is where I think Ganji is mistaken, if he is doing this. But I do not feel I can agree to their inclusion, before they clearly state their relationship to the previous monarchy of Iran, which was not liberal. 4. No. Cooperation is not a right. It is a diplomatic decision, that can be correct or incorrect, but is not against someone's rights. On this, I do not even understand what you are saying, or what your point is. 5. Not at this time. Ganji has, in my opinion, shown his rejection both of the objectives and methods of the Islamic revolution. He cannot be clearer than what he is on that. And in my knowledge there is no reference for what you are claiming he feels or says about the revolution. Quotes from his friends does not count. (By the way, I have never read Ganji call Hajjarian a republican. A friend yes, but not a republican.) In the theory I am using, Ganji's links to the revolution belong to the past that he has disconnected from. I may be wrong, but I need to see an alternative theory that stands this test: Why has Ganji rejected the central doct ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
Babak S at June 29, 2006 11:53 PM [permalink]:

Another question:[...] how the consequences of what he does are viewed by the regime that is important. [...] I think that what he is doing [...] is deemd beneficial enough for the regime. he advicates direct talks, he advocates world disarmament and peace (!), he causes disunity among the opposition deliberately... All I said was I can see why the regime would allow him out at this point of time. Afterall there must have been a reason he was allowed to travel, no?
Are you suggesting that the authorities who allowed Ganji to travel, have had prior access to the most recent comments of Ganji, which are the content of our discussion? Things like "direct talks", "world disarmament and peace (!)" causing "disunity among the opposition deliberately" (all your quotes) are all the content of Ganji's interviews and speeches after he left Iran. As far as I recall, what he said in Iran did not contain these "objectionable" materials in this form. The authorities must either have had a very good prediction of what Ganji would say on these very specific issues, or agreed with him on them, or a time machine. I find all of these require quite a bit of stretch of imagination. That is what I mean by your "conspiracy theory."

Ali at June 30, 2006 02:58 PM [permalink]:

Sad that we focus so much on a person. Symptomatic of an apathetic and hopeless society.

AIS at July 3, 2006 06:53 PM [permalink]:
Babak, I'm sorry you didn't notice my answers to your points. I'll try again once more by answering your questions if you like. 1- Yes. You are trying very hard to justify Ganji. This is very evident and if causes barriers for you to continue a debate or not is not in my hands. (BTW, When I call you his spokesperson I think it is evident that I do not mean it literaly or seriously. What is this, a joke?! It is the attitude you are taking, trying hard to find arguments to justify Ganji when he is clearly contradicting himself. This is NOT the critical approach, I'm sorry.) That you disgree with some of his claims yourself is a different matter, you were still trying very hard to justify him all along and I find that ill-advised. 2-Of course Ganji is wrong. It is very obvious. 3-Some are liberal and consistent. Some aren't. Like all the other Iranian political groups. 4- Cooperation itself is not a right. The problem is the ideological reason behind this rejection. I also think the demands to exclude one party from a grand coalition, not just the cooperation of group with another, when that party is very much deserving, is an instant of discrimination and a forerunner of a definitive future struggle to trample their rights to be voted for by the people of they choose to by non-democratic means. 5- He says new stuff, but he also saysthings that show he is not yet disconnected the umbilical cord that connects him to this system. He contradicts his general words by saying the opposite in the special case of Iran all the time. THe contradictiosn are all similar in nature and point very naturaly to one conclusion: He is not willing to cut ranks with the system completely. He says Iran is different from arab countries and has a strong and active opposition, a lively and exuberant culture seeking democracy,.. that need support. Then he says war can't bering democracy to a society that does not have the capacity for democracy. Well which one is it now? Iran has a capacity for democracy already or not? He says all liberal opposition forces must come together. That this is vital today. Then he deliberately excludes one such liberal force from the opposition, creates even more disunity and weakens the entire opposition for no good reason what so ever. Again, which one is it? Unity or not?! He says that it is only now that the ideal of democracy is prevailing among all forces. That in 1979 documents show that that was not the common goal. Then he quotes Khomeini's words that ask for the right of each generation to choose its own government and destiny by elections and that the goal was to creat a republic like that of France in 1979. Well again, which one is it now? Was it for democracy or not? (Or maybe everyone else was anti-democratic except for Ganji who had joined the revolutionary gurads for defending the country against a war that was still two years ahead, Khomeini who was in it for making another France in the Middle East and Hajjarian (since he is a good friend and we should includ him in everything anyway)-talk of the three musketeers!) (BTW Here is one instance for example when he calls Hajjarian a republican. Last paragraph ) . . . The most optimistic conclusion we can take here is that he is not willing to cut off from his reformist base - in practice- since it is advantages for him. It is through them that he grew to fame. It is through such connections that he was saved from various tortures that others have gone t ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
AIS at July 3, 2006 06:56 PM [permalink]:


you are absolutely right. That is precisely why I am writing these comments. To opposethe creation of another idol. Whether we like it or not in our situation such persons are important. They shoudl be debunked when they utter nonsense right from the beginning.
That is critical.

Babak S at July 5, 2006 06:44 PM [permalink]:
Okay! It is good to be clear on things. Some reamrks on the more important points: 1. Repeating the same baseless claim does not create the needed support. I challenge you to put together some of my sentences that would suggest I am "justifying" or "white washing" Ganji's positions, which I won't be able to counter with my own written words in the same context. (Also, you seem to have a limited view of the "critical approach." Moreover, a purely critical approach, I believe, is inadequate for making good theories.) In any case, your accusations are hardly helpful, considering the structural problems of a limited written dialogue with an anonymous commenter, and in your words very "ill-advised." 2. Dealt with. 3. This is an important part of our discussion. We both seem to agree that the monarchists, as a group, cannot be considered a liberal force. Some among them are, and they even have (mostly one-man) parties, but as a group, as a label, they are not associated with a liberal political force in Iran. Once we accept this, I argue that it is not a matter of simple logic that Ganji's comment in regards to them is so obviously against liberalism as you claim. However, his comment in regards to monarchy in general is wrong. Interestingly, it is his general theory here that is wrong, not his statement specifically about Iranian monarchists as a group. 4. I don't see an ideological reason behind Ganji's comment, but a faulty application of a liberal principle. The ideological nature you are referring to only comes about as a result of your psychological theory of the inner workings of his mindset. However, I agree as I said above, that if Ganji takes a position of such power to decide who is to put what to vote, and he still believes in his faulty theory, he would be likely to strip a group of people (perhaps a minority) of their right. But the solution to this is simple, there should simply be no such position. And I feel this is what you are trying to warn against too. No follower-followed relationship; no special position to decide on others' rights. 5. Again, as far as I have read Ganji he quotes Khomeini in the same way as Marx. It is important to bring out such quotes as "every generation is free to choose their destiny" especially if it is by Khomeini. The ones like "we want a republic like France" are quoted as an instant of undelivered and empty promises. This is what I read again in Ganji's recent radio intereview with DW. (See here.) So, these two statements are not in contradiction, that "the 1979 revolution was not for democracy," but "it had nice slogans." It is always like that. It is well known that some of the major slogans of the 1979 revolution were based around "independence" and "freedom". All movements and ideologies, even the deadly ones, have some nice slogans. That is how they recruit supporters. But they won't and they can't, as a matter of fact, deliver on those nice slogans if they are not based on freedom and its central role in society. About your final questions, I have some misgivings. For instance, you wrote: You say you disagree with his statement about barring a group of liberal democratic people from the unified front. I never said this. I said, it is a mistake to "exclude them uncricially, and with no possibility of a dialogue". I said, it was "not clear to me what's the balance of advantage vs. disadvantage of trying to use their resources at the tangible risk of dealing with their illiberal fanat ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
AIS at July 6, 2006 03:50 AM [permalink]:
Ok. You want to know why I think you were/are trying to find reasons to justify Ganji's statement. This is how it goes: Ganji makes a statement in general about all forms of monarchy, including constitutional monarchy and why it is not acceptable. His argument is childish and obviously unacceptable for anyone who agrees with the basics of liberal thought. He mixes up equality of opportunity with equality of results. You say you agree that this is wrong. Fine. That should have been the end of discussion. But then you constantly try new ways to make sense why Ganji is saying this, why it is not the nonsense that it is, how to twist it to make sense. You drag the discussion to the condition of (the vast and diverse field of Iranian) monarchists- that you reduced to a caricature- to see why this case this is perhaps a good idea, where as the problem with Ganji was his general approach to all this and I'm sure you could see this. You try to find an instance of demractaion in my arguments, again irrelevant, and do so on. You are still continuing this here. You can regard the consitutionalist monrachies as whatever you want. The point is, for the umptinth time, that this is not for you or any other individual to decide. Both constitutional monarchy and republic can be turned into visicous tyrannies, especially in fertile cultural grounds such as that in Iran, and both can be real liberal democracies. The debate between liberalproponants of either form is which one of the two is more suitable given iran's culture and background to amke the transition to the real democracy (ie. the content) easier and more natural. A republic is all elective (at least in theory, so it could be better in that respect. On teh other hand in a constitutional monarchy the king would be just a title, a nominal head of state and representative of Iranian historical background and a unifying symbol for all ethninc and religious and ideological sections of Iranian community, because he or she is not bound to any ideology and has no actual power (something a president as head of state can't be because of his powers and so could be come as many countries in the thirld world himself another tyrant). The obvious solution is to let ultimately for the entire Iranian population to decide after all the debates are openly made in favor of one over the other, so that the voice of this very same cultural and historical context can be democratcialy heard. Afterwards all those who are struggling for a liberal democracy must join forces, accept teh decision and work hard, struggle actually, a long long time together to make sure the content of the ensuing regime will become the liberal demoicracy , which is the main issue. You also keep mentioning that Reza Pahlavi seems to be ademocratic fellow. So what? that is how their logic goes, and I may add it has worthwhile to contemplate on that, so the guys' character The other example is this comparison with Marx quotation. I definitely disagree, because I see no common ground. What Marx was saying was comnsistant with his ideology. it was not capitalism that was praised in that quote but this mystic historical trend that manifested itself in the form of capitalism and that now has supposedly moved on to its final(?) form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, He could and did at the same time be a against all capitalists who were degenracies in this view point clinging to an outdated era (there is a lot of resembelance to how chr ["Toooo long!" editors say, "Here: click to read the whole thing!"]
AIS at July 6, 2006 03:58 AM [permalink]:

BTW, your link is not working.

Babak S at July 6, 2006 04:21 AM [permalink]:

It is working now.

AIS at July 9, 2006 02:43 AM [permalink]:

Ganji believes now that ridding Afghanistan of Taliban was wrong and he opposes it. In other words, Afghan women according to Mr. Ganji should still be sufferung under Taliban (because there was no way they could have freed themselves and Afghanistan from the grip of Taliban so soon).

Just pathetic.
I can only feel sorry for this new buffoon in town.
I'm sure we are going to see many more emerge from the wonderland people used to call Iran before.

Sadaf at July 9, 2006 10:37 PM [permalink]:

I don't know much about this Ganji guy, but if he has been, either implicitly or explicitly supportive of the Taliban regime, to me he is just outright pathetic. if someone is afraid of a radical, but mind you, a POSITIVE change, such as getting rid of the Talibans, then, that guy is no good politician for the today's Iran, where we definitely need a positive radical change to take place. and why constitutional monarchy when we can have a liberal democracy? just because the Pahlavi family, wants to grip on the riches of Iran by holding a useless official post, which no country is gonna suffer from its lack of existence. Iran's symbol of past history can be any prosperous Iranian you might see in your everyday life, not necessarily a Pahlavi symbol who is gonna constantly remind you of the coup de'at of Reza Pahlavi, back in couple of decades ago, where they got their power started at that point.

AIS at July 12, 2006 08:28 AM [permalink]:

More pearls of wisdom from the new "hero":

- he is trying to bring the voice of muslims to the west to contrast the deliberate -read evil- concentration on Islamists. So who are these voices of true lovely islam?
The likes of "Hazrat" (his majesty) Ayatollah Montazeri. The pupli of Khomeini. The co founder of the notion of velayet-faghih (rule of clergy). The head of the council who devised the constitution of the fascist regime in Iran. the one who was outraged when his idea of implanting direc offices of the "vali faghih" in universities was opposed....
or Abdolkarim Soroush... the one in charge of cultural revolution that aimed at Islamizing a secuilarized university culture in Iran and forced firing myriads of university professors and the sworn enemy of secularization.

And all of this from a buffon who motto is secular republic,

2- He now beleives the western superpowers only use the "excuse" of islamic fundamentalism to dominate islamic countries economy and are in it for the oil.

And this from the buffoon who claims to be in favor of liberal free market capitalism.

3- Of all the poeple of all the figures, he decides to visit only -guess who? -Noam Chomsky.
The guy who supports an armed hizbollah and considers it freedom fighters. See here, here, here and here.

Funniest of all is that the " spokesman for the ad hoc committee arranging Mr. Ganji's visit to America, Mehdi Amini, said yesterday that the former reporter and political prisoner did not want to risk arrest upon his return to Iran. "He has said he is not willing to meet U.S. government officials. He plans to go to Iran and he does not want this to be a reason for the Iranians to rearrest him," Mr. Amini said." ( Link)

And this from someone who's mantra has been how everything has a cost and we should be prepared to pay the price of freeodm. talk of hypocracy. I never thought I would be saying thsi anytime soon, but it seems that even reformists and the likes of Khatami can be superceded in the match of hypocracies.

Is there any doubt that now, after the previous buffoon trashed asuch noble ideas like civil society and tolerance and made a stinking mockery of them, this newer version has just started doing the same with others like Liberalism, secularuism, free market, civil disobedience.....?

The question is, are we still gonna fall for this rubbish again? Are we going to be close our eyes on such clear signs and be fooled again?

To those who still fool themselves with hopes that ganji might come true after all the nonsense he has been uttering: My condolences.

As great Fredowsi had said:
Sar-e naakassan raa barafaraashtan
va'zishaan omid-e behee daashtan

Sar-e reshte-ye kheesh gom kardan ast
be Jayb andaroon maar parvardan ast.

(To raise the unworthy and expect things to get better from them is like loosing ones thread and raising a serpent in our sleeves!)

Only if we learned this.

AIS at July 12, 2006 08:34 AM [permalink]:

Chomsky links:

Chosmky's visit and support for Hizbollah:
Here, here, here
Chosmky's support for the Khmer Rouge:

AIS at August 3, 2006 12:49 PM [permalink]:

I don't want to beat a dead horse (and Ganji is not even worth that label anymore) but i simply can't stop saying this:
You see Mr. Babak why this pathetic nauseating descrimination on ganji's part was so important.
Ganji is also responsible for this crime (murder of Akbar Mohammadi in prison). He deliberately chose not to include his name in his pathetic and failed "campaign" depsite a letter by Ahmad Batebi (who is now in danger himself) reminding him of this deliberate omission. This is the outcomeof workingh hard to act -again delibaretly- against unity.
Now he writes to Chomsky! Chomsky for God's sake. Can't this retarded idiot find someone a bit more respectable than Chomsky!?
He can also forget about his garbage plea for forgivning his criminal comrads and old friends.
Actually he better just shut up, stop this pathetic charade and get back among his islamist ilk as soon as possible.