by Bahman Aghai Diba
April 20, 2005
More than two decades of Islamic government in Iran has showed clearly that the idea was not working. There is no doubt that the people of Iran are less religious and more under-developed now, compared to twenty-six years ago. The Iranian experience had a great deal of impact on many Muslim countries. The tide of Islamic revolutions in all these countries has died. The Islamic revolution should have happened in countries like Egypt and Algeria much sooner than Iran, but the experience of Iranian revolution stopped them. No great Islamic revolution is in the making. On the other hand, many people in all Islamic societies are trying to separate their religion from politics. What is happening in Iran at the present juncture is a clear struggle by the people of Iran to get religion separated from politics. There is no other way. Anyone, including all Muslims and any government, especially the U.S., that wish a better life for the people of Islamic countries and similar states, and also seek international peace and development should help the cause of separating religion from politics.
At the same time, one of the most important points that have helped the present regime of Iran, with all its incompetence and unskillful management to remain in power is the discussion about the alternative? As soon as the discussion begins about the shortages and problems of the present regime, the question comes to the mind that what is the alternative to the present regime of Iran? Who are the forces that are or claim to be the opposition? Which of them are proper for a popular support?
(1) MKOs- the Mujahedin Khjalgh Organization had an effective role in the gaining of power by the clergies in Iran. They participated intellectually and practically (including armed struggle) against the previous regime. They were eventually discarded by the new regime and since then they have been the only organization that has fought actually and through armed conflict against the regime of Tehran. They have assassinated many figures of the regime and the regime has killed thousands of them. The security and political prisons of Iran, including and especially Evin Prison has always been full of the members or supporters of the MKO. At the end of Iran-Iraq war the regime killed almost all prisoners of several security and political prisons. The numbers are still unknown. We hear numbers from 3 to 8 thousand. At that time, when I was prisoned in Evin, I noticed that the prison was empty. Later I came to know that the majority of prisoners were executed within a few days. Almost all of these prisoners were from the MKOs. The programs of the Evin Prison for "reformation" of the prisoners were almost entirely aimed at this group and in rare cases against the leftists.
However, I think that the MKOs have lost their message. Their ideology seemed something like a mixture of Islam and socialism. Some parts of this ideology have lost its meaning through the failure of the Marxism all over the world and the failure of the centralized economy in Iran. Some of their slogans have been adopted by the regime of Iran and have proved to be wrong. Therefore, they have no message for the people of Iran. The members of the organization believe in religious teachings and they act somehow similar to the Islamic Republic. Although the people of Iran owe a lot to this organization and the members of the MKOs have eliminated some of the worst enemies of the people (such as Lajevardi, the Butcher of Evin), this organization has no attraction for the old and young generations of Iran. They need to revise their ideology and separate Islam from their political line.
(2) The Monarchy is an outdated system that is illogical and meaningless all over the world. The idea that some persons should rule a country because they are from certain family is so ridiculous that there is no need to prove it. The rulers must be persons elected by the people and they should be accountable and subject to change especially when they fail. Monarchy and Velate Faghih (Government of the supreme religious leader) are the same.
(3) Another group is the so-called leftists as a collection of the Fadayian of the minority and majority, Tudeh Party members and its sympathizers, Rahe Kareghar, Rangbraran and so on. They should keep silent for a while and think what they want to say before they speak. The Islamic Regime already used many of their leftist practices as early as the time that Mir Husayn Mousavi was the PM of Iran. They have failed. On the other side Marxism-Leninism-Maoism ideologies have demonstrated their inability for motivation of the human societies. Therefore, the present so-called Marxists (even the neo-Marxists) have no message for the people. They talk about justice but they have demonstrated practically that they are not able to walk in this direction. The western democracy with all of its problems is still the best system that the human being has succeeded to present and until further progress in this field it will stay as such.
(4) The National-religious groups of Iran are redundant. They claim to be intellectuals and at the same time religions. They are intellectuals in the box, like Ali Shariati and Bazaghan. The combination of nationalistic ideas and religion does not work. Those who are pretending otherwise are liars. The religions, especially Islam, are not able to support democracy. The religions by nature are tyrannical. The expansionist religions, like Islam, follow a kind of universalism that gives the monopoly of power to the religious despots and their interpretation of the religion. People, like Ali Shariati are responsible for creating something out of Islam that did not exist. Notwithstanding that they really believed in their fabrications or used them as a strategy to get to their other goals, they are demagogues that have deceived the people. The members of this group had a great role in the hijacking of the Iranian revolution (which was after freedom and justice) by the religious zealots and their ignorant thugs. It is interesting that many members of this group are now considered as a kind of reformist to the mess that they have created. The present regime of Iran knows these demagogues better than anybody else and calls them hypocrites. Until the time that these hypocrites enjoyed governmental advantages and privileges no body could convince them the so-called Islamic revolutionary courts were acting in extra-judicial capacity and giving unjust sentences, but as soon as they failed to maintain their privileges and became subject the same laws and regulations as the rest of people, they turned to reformism. These elements are a step further than hypocrites and the political dictionary must find a better definition for them. They deserve no respect.
(5) The Republicans are probably the best alternatives for the present regime of Iran. They have the correct framework and they should find the right contents by observation of what will follow. The future regime of Iran (whatever it is called) must have the following characteristics:
(A) Secularism. This means that the people are sick and tried of religious extremism. The religion is a personal thing and it should be confined to the private life of the people. Whoever tries to impose religious things on the people should be stopped in proper ways. Imposing ideas is against the freedom of expression and violation of the people's rights. The religious things should be separated from the state administration. A special organ should be established to find and discards the religious things from the state affairs. Iran needs De-Islamization and De-Arabization. Iran is not an Arab country, contrary to what may Westerners think, and it is not a deeply Islamic country. The people of Iran are not serious Muslims and they do not intend to be so. Unfortunately, the Government of Iran that does not represent the people of Iran, has taken policies that is against the Iranian ideas and interests. The Government of Iran, which has taken the power through a creeping coup and it is called " the Second invasion of Iran by the Arabs", has been killing itself during the last 26 years to make the people more Islamic but the product of all those efforts are in vain. The people of Iran at the moment are less Islamic than the time of the previous regime. The regime has taken so many steps visibly and invisibly to impose, attract, lure, deviate, make interested or push the people toward Islam and it has failed. Some of the measures are:
All of the above practices should be discarded in the new regime of Iran.
(B) Respecting human rights as mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Some years ago I was really curious that many religious officials in Iran, when faced with the question of human rights abuses in Iran (reports of various human rights organizations and groups such as the UN Commission on Human Rights in this regards) claimed that the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights is not enough to cover the whole body of human rights and Islam has more " rights" for "human beings". Later, I came to know that they only refer to their own followers as human beings and of course they were ready to grant more rights (in the expense of others) to those who consider them as the sole representatives of God. They did not consider "the others" as human beings at all. They were supposed to be some kind of talking animals that bear no rights.
(C) Equality of women in all aspects with men as a principle. Islamic rules, as interpreted by many Islamic experts are against the equality of men and women. These are some of the points that differ in Islam and the UN Convention on Eradication of All Forms of Discrimination against Women:
Therefore, the Islamic rules about women should be discarded totally as the materials against the human rights and human dignity.
(D) The government must be elected. The people of Iran like almost all peoples in the world are seeking a democracy for their country. They have been struggling for this purpose during the last hundred years. Iranian people were far earlier than many other nations in these regards. Unfortunately, the efforts of Iranian people for getting to democracy have been undermined by various internal and external elements. The 1979 revolution in Iran was one the latest efforts of this nation to get democracy but again it has been deviated by a minority of religiously narrow-minded persons.
(E) Changing the Iranian calendar to an Iranian form. It is meaningless for Iranians to choose something in the Arab history as the basis of the history. The Iranians had a great civilization before the developments in the Arab regions and something like the date of the first universal declaration of human rights, issue by Cyrus the Great, must be the basis for the Iranian calendar. This is a necessary goal for the new regime.
(F) Free economy based on the market and the governmental supervision. Centralized economy is a bad idea. Iran has suffered a lot due to the economic policies of the religious zealots who have tried to impose the Marxist economy under the Islamic disguise. The new regime of Iran must stay away from the centralized economy.
(G) No interest in the issues of Arabs and the Palestine. Iranians are not Arabs and most of the Iranians do not care what is the issue of Palestine. The Arabs in their part have many negative approaches to Iran. Apart from the fact that Iranians were always called as alien (Ajam) and Zoroastrian (Majous), they were responsible for the biggest division in the Islam. Sometimes Iranians are called Rafezi, meaning those who are far from the religion of Islam or they have left the religion. Even today, some groups, like the followers of the various factions in Iraq constantly call the Shiites of Iran as Rafezi. Many of the Arabs do not consider Iranians as Muslims. Syria, headed by the Hafiz Assad was the only Arab country that supported Iran in international forums and some Arab gatherings after being paid in free Iranian oil, but even Syria preferred the Arabic sentiments towards Iran. She never supported Iran on the issue of three Iranian islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mousa in the Persian Gulf. The General position of Arabs is that Iran, just like Israel, is occupier of Arab lands.
(H) Good relations with the West especially the USA. Iran and the USA have many common interests. Iran can get its proper position in the region and the world through cooperation with the USA. Only suppose what will happen in the case of the Iranian rights in the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf if the USA is in the Iranian side.
(I) National reconciliation. Many of the people who work with the present regime of Iran are forced to do so for survival. The new regime or the alternative to the Islamic regime must have enough capacity for a national reconciliation in order to avoid bloodshed and use all forces for the development of the country. Also, a system of merits must be established. The Islamic Republic of Iran has introduced the system of blind obedience and has imposed it in all levels. Illiteracy and ignorance are top qualities for the managers of the Islamic government in Iran. The sheep must be returned to the pens. This system must be replaced with real merits systems.
Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD International
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