Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- May 19, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 05/18/2004 9:02:25 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. Most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
EU, PGCC Welcome Iran's Signing of Additional Protocol
BRUSSELS (IRNA) -- The European Union and Persian Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed Monday the signing by Iran of the Additional Protocol to the NPT and also Tehran's suspension of its uranium enrichment program.
"The EU and the PGCC welcomed Iran's signature in December 2003 of the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement and recalled that Iran has committed itself to act in accordance with its provisions, pending its entry into force, and urged its implementation and early ratification," said a joint communiqué issued after the 14th EU-PGCC joint council and ministerial meeting late Monday night.
The two sides also welcomed the decision by Iran of February 24, 2004, to extend the scope of its suspension of enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, and its confirmation that the suspension applies to all facilities in Iran. "In accordance with this decision, they expected Iran to proceed with the full suspension of all such activities, and to take all necessary steps to build up confidence." They also urged Iran "to provide full and proactive cooperation with the IAEA in resolving all outstanding questions in a spirit of full transparency." Both sides, however, expressed "concern at the lack of progress towards resolution of the territorial conflict between the United Arab Emirates and Iran over Abu Musa and the Tunbs Islands."
"They reiterated their support for a peaceful solution to the conflict in accordance with international law, either through direct negotiations or by referring the issue to the International Court of Justice," said the communiqué.
Deadly clashes rock Kamyaran in western Iran
SMCCDI (Information Service)
May 18, 2004
Deadly clashes rocked, yesterday, the western City of Kamyaran as residents marched toward the Security forces HQ in order to ask justice for the killing of several yong resients shot by the regime forces at a check point.
The regime forces opened fire on the crowd and the shoot out lead to the popular retaliation causing the injuries of several security agents and heavy damages to their center. Reports are stating that 3 to 5 residents have been killed in the clashes and tens injured.
Elite forces were sent to the city in order to smash the riot by night's end and the situation of the town has been reported as very critical.
AS STUDENTS WARN OF LARGE DEMONSTRATIONS, AQAJARI REJECTS APPEAL
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004
TEHRAN, 18 May (IPS) One week after his death sentence confirmed by a court in the eastern city of Hamadan, a defiant Hashem Aqajari reiterated that he would not seek appeal, raising the menace of unleashing the wrath of the students and renewed condemnations of the Islamic Republics crackdown on the dissidents, human rights and freedom of expression.
I refuse to sign the notification of the verdict and I refuse to appeal. Free me unconditionally or carry out the sentence. I will not appeal in order for you to lose my case again in an administrative labyrinth, Mrs. Zahra Behnoudi, the wife of Mr. Aqajari was quoted by the semi-official Students news agency ISNA on her husbands decision not to appeal.
A University professor and Islamist reformer, Mr. Aqajari was condemned two years ago to capital punishment for blasphemy, insulting Muslims prophet Mohammad and the Shia hierarchy, saying, during a conference at this city, that people are not apes to follow blindly what the clergy tells them.
His view was a seen as an attack on the both the country's ruling Islamic establishment and the very person of Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, a junior cleric made overnight Ayatollah after he was elected by the Assembly of Experts on August 1989 to replace Grand Ayatollah Roohollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic.
The court in its ruling, also condemned him to 74 lashes, ten years of ban from professional activities and seven years of exile in a remote village, but did not say if the bans would take effect before or after the application of the death sentence.
The Office for Consolidating Unity (OCU), the Iranian students largest organization that had organized nation-wide demonstrations against the original decision pronounced on November 2002 warned the authorities that it would renew the actions in support of Mr. Aqajari if the sentence is not removed and the academic set free without conditions.
In a statement, the OCU condemned the confirmation of the sentence as a shameful and mediaeval punishment, adding that the sentence pronounced against Aqajari is an action by the leader controlled Judiciary against freedom in general but also all the militant students condemned to heavy penalties.
According to Mrs. Behnoudi, her husband had told her that the verdict, a confirmation of that handed down by the same judge in the western city of Hamadan, was dated the second half of August last year. The second sentence, announced last week, ignored objections raised by the Supreme Court to the original decision, newspapers quoted Aqajaris lawyer Saleh Nikbakht as saying.
Mr. Nikbakht said he has been officially told of the re-imposition of the death penalty, but added immediately that the Hamadan judge failed to clear any points that were signaled as shortcomings by the Supreme Court.
The judge has issued the ruling without clearing up those deficiencies in line with the orders of the State Supreme Court, and this amounts to a ruling against the Supreme Court, the lawyer explained.
Irans top judicial authorities are thought to be anxious to avoid a repetition of the protests at home and abroad that followed the original death sentence on the respected scholar, a disabled war veteran who lost a brother during the eight-years long Iran Iraq War.
For this reason, on order from Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, the Supreme Court later annulled the death sentence and sent the case back to the provincial court for review, but the provincial court re-imposed the death penalty earlier in May.
According to some sources, Ayatollah Khamenehi has told the head of the justice department to re-examine as quickly as possible Mr. Aqajaris file.
Giving no source for its report, the semi-independent students news agency ISNA said in a dispatch that Mr. Khamenehi is seriously unhappy about the delay in the case.
ISNA reported that the leader, who has the last word on all state matters, was angered by the decision to re-issue the death penalty and called on the judiciary to review the verdict.
However, an unidentified source from the Judiciary contradicted, saying the leader had issued no instructions about the case of the convicted academic.
As far as we are concerned, the beloved leader has always stated that the case must follow its legal path, the source said, according to some press reports.
Mr Aqajari is currently being held in Evin prison in Tehran, where he is serving a four-year sentence imposed in place of the death penalty by the Supreme Court.
ENDS AQAJARI SENTENCED 18504
UN watchdog unable to complete Iran nuclear probe by June: diplomats
by Michael Adler
VIENNA, May 18 (AFP) - The UN atomic agency will not be able to complete an investigation into Iran's alleged secret nuclear weapons program by mid-June due to delays by Tehran in allowing international inspections and disclosing its nuclear activities, diplomats said.
"This is ironic since the Iranians are the ones who want the file on them to be closed," a diplomat close to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and who asked not to be named told AFP Tuesday.
During a visit by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to Tehran in April, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi had said Tehran expected the IAEA investigation to be completed in June ahead of a meeting of the IAEA board.
But an earlier delay to a crucial round on inspections in March "threw us out of sequence," an official close to the IAEA said, adding key results would not now be available for the board of governors meeting in Vienna June 14.
"It takes a long time time to get analysis of environmental samples (swipes to find traces of radioactive particles) so there is no way to get results in June in order to wrap this thing up," a Western diplomat said.
The Iranians have "succeeded in slowing down the (investigation) machine," a second Western diplomat said.
ElBaradei has said he hopes the IAEA can finish its investigation by the end of the year, but he warned in a CNN interview Saturday that Iran's cooperation so far had been insufficient.
"The jury is still out," he said about whether Iran's nuclear program is peaceful as Tehran has insisted.
Iran delayed inspections after the IAEA board in March condemned the country for failing to report key activities, particularly its acquiring of blueprints for sophisticated centrifuges to enrich uranium, which can be used in both civilian reactors and to make atomic bombs.
Iran had also failed in a report filed in October to fully disclose, as it had promised, its nuclear activities.
One diplomat said that while the international community may tolerate a lack of resolution on Iran's nuclear program until the US presidential elections in November, the issue "cannot go on forever. We are not going to debate on this for the next three years."
Diplomats were wary of speculating about whether Washington was backing off from pushing for the IAEA to take Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program due to the Iraq conflict.
Washington, which charges Iran is hiding attempts to make nuclear weapons, did not lobby for this at the last IAEA meeing in March and is not expected to insist on it in June.
Iran is close to the majority Shiite community in Iraq, which is crucial to securing peace there.
A diplomat said one thing sure was that "the Iranians are more confident because they know they're needed in Iraq."
IAEA inspectors now say they can see a pattern of radiation contamination in Iran which could indicate attempts to enrich uranium to bomb-grade level, diplomats said.
But the agency is waiting for another, more complete report from Iran on its nuclear program, which will take "half a year to a year" to evaluate, the official close to the IAEA said.
IAEA inspectors have so far reported two concentrations of particles of highly enriched uranium -- at a Kalaye Electric Company workshop in Tehran and at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant 250 kilometres (150 miles) south of the capital.
Diplomats have confirmed other sites have been found, although details have not been made available
Posted on Tue, May. 18, 2004
Irans police state too inept to survive
NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
New York Times
I had just about convinced myself that Iran is not a police state and then the authorities detained me for a second time.
The first time was in Isfahan, for committing journalism. The police apologized and let me go after 30 minutes when my papers were found to be in order. The second time was at Tehrans airport as I was trying to leave, and this time the interrogation was tougher.
Have you ever been to Israel? Gulp, yes.
Are you working for the Israeli government? Of course not.
Are you working for the American government? I tried to explain that my views make me unemployable by either the Bush or Sharon administrations, but the interrogators were weak on both subtlety and humor.
After hinting for 90 minutes that I was a spy and a liar, and that they might hold on to me indefinitely, the interrogators finally let me board my plane. Indeed, toward the end, they seemed worried principally by my threat to write about the encounter.
That episode crystallized an impression that had been forming during my trip through Iran: If it were an efficient police state, it might survive. But its not. It cracks down episodically, tossing dissidents in prison and occasionally even murdering them (like a Canadian-Iranian journalist last year). But Iran doesnt control information partly because satellite television is ubiquitous, if illegal and people mostly get away with scathing criticism as long as they do not organize against the government.
The embarrassing point for us is that while Iran is no democracy, it has a much freer society than many of our allies in the Middle East. In contrast to Saudi Arabia, for example, Iran has (rigged) elections, and two of its vice presidents are women. The Iranian press is not as free as it was a few years ago, but it is now bolstered by blogs (Web logs) and satellite TV, which offer real scrutiny of government officials.
I was astonished that everywhere I went in Iran, people would immediately tell me their names and agree to be photographed and then say something like, There is no freedom here.
All this means, I think, that the Iranian regime is destined for the ash heap of history. An unpopular regime can survive if it is repressive enough, but Irans hard-liners dont imprison their critics consistently enough to instill terror.
Pet dogs, for example, are strongly discouraged in Iran as dirty and contrary to Islam, and traffic police regularly arrest dogs and their owners. But the number of pet dogs is multiplying, and Tehran now has dozens of veterinary clinics.
Many Iranians believe that the Iranian leadership is pursuing a Chinese model, in which the authorities tolerate personal freedoms but rigidly control politics. But it wont work. In China, the greatest expansion of personal freedoms was followed, in 1989, by the biggest anti-government demonstrations in Chinese history.
In one country after another (including Iran in 1979), repressive governments have tried to buy time by easing up a tad, and dissidents have used that as leverage to oust the oppressors. Im convinced that Iran will be the same (although I should acknowledge that my Iranian friends, who know the situation much better, tend to be more pessimistic).
The crisis in legitimacy even manages to create nostalgia for the repressive shah. Everybody longs for the good old days of the shah, said Amir, a peasant in a village north of Isfahan. Prices were cheap, and he was good at building the country. If the shah built a road, it would still be good after 30 years. Now if they build a road, it cracks and falls apart in a few years.
Young people constantly told me how they scolded their parents for backing the Islamic Revolution in 1979. As a young woman, Sogand Tayebi, put it, Those who backed the revolution are now sorry about that.
In the end, I find Iran a hopeful place. Ordinary people are proving themselves irrepressible, and they will triumph someday and forge a glistening example of a Muslim country that is a pro-American democracy in the Middle East.
I treasure a memory from the airport: After I was detained, a security goon X-rayed my bags for a second time and puzzled over my computer equipment. He snarled at me: American reporters bad! The X-ray operator, who perhaps didnt know quite what was going on, beamed at me and piped in: Americans very good!
No order from Khamenei to re-examine Aghajari death sentence: judiciary
TEHRAN, May 17 (AFP) - The head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, denied Monday receiving any order from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei to review the death sentence for blasphemy of dissident intellectual Hashem Aghajari, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"The judiciary has so far not received any order from the Supreme Leader in this regard," Shahrudi was quoted as saying in reply to the question of whether his department had been told by Khamenei to re-examine Aghajari's death sentence "as quickly as possible."
"No official decree has been issued on this matter... Aghajari's case has been sent to the state Supreme Court and it is going through its natural course," he added.
On Saturday, the student news agency ISNA reported without a source that Khamenei had told the head of the judiciary to review the sentence, referring to the "supreme leader's serious unhappiness about the delay seen in the case."
However IRNA quoted Shahrudi's deputy Abdul Reza Izadpanah as saying that according to both Khamenei and the head of the judiciary, Aghajari's speech in the western city of Hamedan which triggered the sentence "is not considered to be apostasy and blasphemy and therefore not punishable by death."
On Friday, the head of the judiciary in Hamedan province, Zekrollah Ahmadi, said that Aghajari's case "has been sent to the Supreme Court," adding, "It is highly probable that the State Supreme Court will quash the (death) sentence, since I as the head of the judiciary apparatus here has objected to the ruling."
Aghajari, a history professor at Tehran University and a disabled war veteran, was convicted of blasphemy by a judge in Hamedan for calling for a reformation in Iran's state Shiite Muslim religion.
He also said that Muslims were not "monkeys" and "should not blindly follow" religious leaders.
The November 2002 verdict sparked protests in Iran and abroad, and Khamenei demanded it be reviewed.
In January 2003, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial but the same judge in Hamedan recently confirmed his previous sentence. Aghajari has refused to appeal.
Iran's top judicial authorities are thought to be anxious to avoid a repetition of the protests that followed the original death sentence, prompting a call to order from Khamenei.
ISPs Volunteer Filtering Websites
After the government padlocked nearly 20 Tehran Internet Service Providers (ISPs) over filtering of banned news and information sites, such as Radio Farda's, a number of ISPs, fearing loss of their businesses, have begun filtering many websites, even beyond the list of banned sites provided by the government, ISP owner Nima Akbarpour tells Radio Farda. At least one closed ISP managed to sign a deal with Iran Telecom to provide Internet phone service. Although the padlocking of ISPs was portrayed as punishment for ignoring the filtering rules, observers said the real reason was that the ISPs were gaining market share against Iran Telecom in long-distance phone business, he adds. (Keyvan Hosseini)
Laws Protect Fathers in Child Abuse Cases
Our biggest obstacle in prosecuting fathers for perpetrating child abuse and neglect is the civil code, which considers child a property of the father,Dr. Shiva DowlatabadiRadio Farda. (Farin Asemi)
Majles Releases Committee Report on Car Industry
Head of the Majles industries' committee criticized the report of the special investigation committee on the country's auto industry as the personal opinion of the investigative committee's chairman Ebrahim Baisalami. Tehran-based journalist Ali Zandi tells Radio Farda that the poor quality and high prices of domestic cars prompted criticism from consumers and industry observers, including the producers' society (Anjoman Towlidgaran), a think tank headed by Tehran MP Ebrahim Baisalami, who maintained that the state-owned automakers relied on their monopoly to rip off the consumer. Their criticism prompted the Majles to form a special commission under Baislami to investigate the car industry. The commission's report, unveiled yesterday in the open session of the Majles, took three years, and cannot be the opinion of one person, he adds. Some of the profits generated by the automakers go to the government, but many private and semi-private companies reaped huge profits by winning supply contracts through special relations with the state-owned auto companies. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
Shah's Policy in the Persian Gulf
The Shah followed a foreign policy which he thought was best for his country, and it would be unfair to call the Shah a puppet of the US and Britain, Amir Feisal Salman al-Saud, author of a new book on the Shah's Persian Gulf policy in the three years between 1968 and 1971, tells Radio Farda. (Shahran Tabari, London)
Iran-US Talks: Two Views
In his speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, former political officer of the US embassy in Tehran William Miller, who had just returned from his third trip to Iran since the revolution, said common interests should bring the US and Iranian officials together for negotiations over Iraq, Afghanistan and other issues. Mr. Miller talked about the Iranian people's support for the US, but did not mention that the majority of the people want the status quo changed, and do not want to see relations with the US become a lever to keep the Islamic regime in power, former diplomat Mehrdad Khansari tells Radio Farda. (Parichehr Farzam, Washington)
How trustworthy is Iran?
The Washington Times
May 19th 2004
By Claude Salhani
KUWAIT. At a time when Muslim fundamentalists are busily trying to export Islamic revolutions around the globe, they might want to take a good close look at Iran.
When the popular uprising, propelled by Islamic fervor and initiated largely by students and Tehran bazaar shop owners, overthrew the shah in 1979, the mullahs and ayatollahs believed Iran would rapidly export its Islamic revolution. The expectation was that Iran would spread fundamentalism, much the same way the Soviet Union exported socialism to dozens of countries around the world, uniting them into a pact against the West.
But surprise, surprise, the mullahs, ayatollahs and associated revolutionary guards tried to interest a number of countries to follow in their footsteps, but ultimately failed. There is not one country that has adopted the Iranian system.
Yes, Iran had limited success installing a detachment of Guardians of the Revolution in Lebanon, thanks to a governmental void created by Lebanon's civil war. The Iranians thus were able to temporarily Islamize parts of Beirut's southern suburbs and the historic Bekaa Valley town of Baalback, as well as a string of hamlets in south Lebanon. But even in those locations, chadors and Islamic headscarves mix freely with skin-tight Western denims, Nike T-shirts and New York Yankee ballcaps.
In short, Iran's revolution was "unsellable" outside its borders. Now, some 25 years later, Iran is beginning to change once more, slowly swinging back towards a more moderate center. As Amir Taheri, an Iranian-born writer recently pointed out, "Iran is coming around." Nicholas D. Kristof, just returned from a trip to Iran writes in the New York Times, " ... the Iranian regime is destined for the ash heap of history."
With elections still rigged, the country has a long way to go before it can be confused with anything resembling a democracy. Nevertheless, it is a very different Iran from the one that ousted the shah, and who 21/2 decades ago hanged from construction cranes anyone who dared oppose the Islamic Revolution. And with a large young population born after the revolution, the change will continue apace.
"We do not want the Islam of the Taliban," said Atta-Allah Muhajirani, an Iranian official, speaking at a conference in Kuwait on "Iran and the Future." But, said Mr. Muhajirani, "nor do we want the Islam that Bush saved."
So what does Iran want today?
There is little doubt Iran strongly desires to establish itself as a regional power in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region as well as in the Middle East. Iran has been supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories in their fight against Israel. Iran has trained, financed and armed both groups which the U.S. State Department considers to be engaged in terrorist activities and has placed on its terror watch list.
Iran has tried to influence Lebanese politics, whenever possible, through the Hezbollah militia and the Hezbollah political system, now represented in the Lebanese parliament. The government in Tehran has in the past supported terrorist groups and has even engaged in terrorist activities itself.
Iran has had dreams of attaining regional superiority since the days of the shah. And while much has changed in Tehran under the mullahs, Iran's "need" to enjoy junior-superpower status does not seem to have abated in any way.
However, if Iran's desire to export revolution has somewhat faded, it still very much want to remain involved in regional politics such as in Iraq where Iranian agents are extremely active in supporting the Shi'ite community.
Iran is widely believed to be backing the troublesome cleric, Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic still holds high hopes of becoming a nuclear power. Despite cat-and-mouse games with the International Atomic Inspection Agency, Iran, many observers believe, is proceeding with plans to become the second nuclear power in the Middle East, after Israel, as well as the second Muslim nation to go nuclear, after Pakistan. While Iran may not actually produce a nuclear device, it may well proceed with learning and preparing the technology that will allow it to build one.
Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy warned that "Iran's nuclear activities threaten the Gulf and the world." Mr. Clawson said Iran could be initiating a nuclear arms race between Gulf countries, forcing Saudi Arabia, for example, to feel threatened enough to develop its own nuclear program.
Iran today will do everything it can to maintain its junior-superpower status in the region. The great peril from that is a danger of partial confrontation between Israel and Iran.
All indications seem to confirm Israel will not sit back and allow Iran to develop its military nuclear capability. Under such circumstances, a repeat performance of the strike on Iraq's Osirak facility is almost a given. The relevant question here is how would Iran reply? As Iran still commands much influence over Lebanon's Hezbollah, an Israeli pre-emptive strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear sites would undoubtedly unleash military or guerrilla action along the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert and national security analyst for ABC News, told a weekend conference in Kuwait, "Rational stability is not characteristic to the region."
Maybe for that very reason the long overdue dialogue between Iran and the United States might just get off the ground, thinks Mr. Cordesman, who said the name calling Axis of Evil vs. Great Satan must stop as it will get both countries nowhere. The trick is to create a climate of trust.
Trust Iran? Unlikely, say many Kuwaitis who live next door and like to keep a watchful eye on their powerful neighbor. Mohammed A. Al-Jassem, editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Watan and Newsweek in Arabic believes the Iranians are difficult to trust and says Iranians have been "increasingly active" in Iraq, where their intelligence services are positioning themselves for the post-U.S. occupation period.
"The Iranians know that the United States will one day have to leave Iraq," said Al-Jassem. And the Iranians also know they will be around long after that. Stay tuned.
Claude Salhani is international editor of United Press International.
U.S. ON IRAN'S NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES
May 18th 2004
The U.S. Congress has voted overwhelmingly to condemn Iran for its covert nuclear activities. In a three-hundred-seventy-six to three vote, the House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution that expressed "the concern of Congress over Iran's development of the means to produce nuclear weapons." The resolution cites Iran's "continuing deception to the International Atomic Energy Agency [I-A-E-A] and the international community," and says it is "abundantly clear that Iran remains committed to a nuclear weapons program."
The resolution demands that Iran "immediately and permanently cease efforts to acquire nuclear fuel cycle capabilities and cease nuclear enrichment activities." It calls on "all state parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [N-P-T], including the United States, to use appropriate measures to deter, dissuade, and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
President George W. Bush has said that the world cannot tolerate a nuclear weapons-armed Iran. Congressman Tom Lantos of California says the U.S. Congress shares that view:
"It's very important that both the Iranian authorities and all the countries which are involved with this issue understand that the administration and the Congress stand together in our determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons."
Congressman Lantos says there is a logical way to deal with the issue:
"Basically the formula that Libya has adopted. Libya was developing weapons of mass destruction, and Colonel [Moammar] Gadhafi saw that this was contrary to the best interests of Libya itself. And [he] chose to give up its weapons of mass destruction. . . . We very much hope that the Iranian authorities will take a similar position, recognize that developing nuclear weapons is unacceptable and counterproductive and will give up those ambitions."
The resolution passed by the U.S. Congress urges the International Atomic Energy Agency "at its earliest opportunity, to report to the United Nations Security Council that Iran is in noncompliance with its agreements to the I-A-E-A." The I-A-E-A Board of Governors meets again in June to consider Iran's case.
Thanks for the ping!
This just in from a student inside of Iran...
There is an Anti-US rally today in Tehran in Enghelab Square.
I saw many governmental cars and buses bringing HIRED people to the site. There were also some Revolutionary Guards soldiers who forced to join the rally.
It is going to be held at 10 Am local time and I think less than 5000 people join the rally.
We, real Iranians, support USA in Iraq!"
Shah's Policy in the Persian Gulf
The Shah followed a foreign policy which he thought was best for his country, and it would be unfair to call the Shah a puppet of the US and Britain, Amir Feisal Salman al-Saud, author of a new book on the Shah's Persian Gulf policy in the three years between 1968 and 1971, tells Radio Farda.
Here is a great flash video on Iran from Krisof of NYTimes
Bassijis throw petrol bombs at UK embassy in Iran
May 19, 2004, 17:05
Tehran (Reuters)- Bassiji demonstrators angry about the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq have hurled petrol bombs, firecrackers and stones at the British embassy in Iran, witnesses say.
Two petrol bombs landed harmlessly outside the high embassy compound walls, but one cleared the wall and landed inside, a Reuters witness at the scene on Wednesday said.
The crowd of about 200 bassiji demonstrators broke some windows in an administrative building belonging to the embassy, a British diplomat said.
"Muslims, rise up because there is bloodshed in Iraq," chanted the crowd of bassijis, which gathered outside the embassy after a larger state-sponsored rally against the U.S.-led occupation of Iran's western neighbour had fizzled out.
Nuts With Nukes
May 19, 2004
The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
There is one force that could rescue Iran's hard-line ayatollahs from the dustbin of history: us.
For all its denials, Iran seems to be pushing for nuclear warheads and for missiles to carry them. It could make its first weapon in two years, and it could eventually produce enough enriched uranium at Natanz for 25 weapons a year.
Iran's leaders have regularly gotten away with murder. They apparently helped bomb U.S. marines in Lebanon in 1983, a Jewish center in Argentina in 1994 and U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996. So it's easy to understand why President Bush declared recently that it's "intolerable" for Iran to be on the road toward nuclear weapons, adding, "Otherwise they will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations."
To Mr. Bush, not unreasonably, Iran conjures up a frightening combination: nuts with nukes. The push for a tougher approach toward Iran isn't partisan, and a President Kerry might also pursue a more confrontational, albeit more multilateral, approach to Iran.
But that would be a mistake.
First, it won't work. If we haul Iran before the Security Council, it will restart its programs (it has suspended at least some) and kick out inspectors. Iran will respond to more pressure not by dropping its nuclear program, but by accelerating it.
Second, we'll create a nationalistic backlash in Iran that will keep hard-liners in power indefinitely. Our sanctions and isolation have kept dinosaurs in power in Cuba, North Korea and Burma, and my fear is that we'll do the same in Iran.
What I fear is this: Over the next year or two, the West will press Iran harder, Iran will halt its nuclear cooperation and evict inspectors, Israel will bomb a couple of Iran's nuclear sites (a possibility widely discussed in security circles, although it would slow Iran's nuclear progress without ending it), and Iran's ayatollahs will benefit from a nationalistic surge to stay in power and rule more rabidly than ever.
"We love America," began Mansour Jahanbakhsa, a businessman, in a typical comment, but he added that Iran should develop nuclear weapons. "Iranians would become angry at meddling by America," he said, and his demeanor changed. "We are an old country with an ancient civilization, and we are proud of it. How come Israel can have them and we can't? It makes me angry."
A young woman, Maryan Nazeri, complained about the regime but said she would support it in a confrontation over nuclear weapons. "We're going to have them," she said. "Maybe we do already. It's our right. We're Iranians, so what do you expect? Just as you want America to be strong, we want Iran to be strong."
Then Massoud Taheri scolded: "Your president calling us a rogue nation and disrespecting our 5,000 years of civilization is offensive. How many years of civilization do you have?"
Our goal should be regime change in Tehran. But if Mr. Bush (or Mr. Kerry) pushes Tehran too hard over nukes, we'll fail to get rid of either the nuclear program or this regime.
The only alternative is engagement the precise opposite of the sanctions and isolation that have been U.S. policy under both Presidents Clinton and Bush. Sanctions are even less effective against Iran than against, say, North Korea, because Iran oozes petroleum and is independently wealthy. Isolation by the U.S. has accomplished even less in Iran than it has in Cuba.
So we should vigorously pursue a "grand bargain" in which, among other elements, Iran maintains its freeze on uranium enrichment and we establish diplomatic relations and encourage business investment, tourism and education exchanges.
"What would destroy the conservatives [in Iran] would be a money flood" of American investment, says Hooshang Amirahmadi, the president of the American Iranian Council. "In just a few years, the conservatives would be finished."
The bottom line is that we could soon have a pro-American Islamic democracy as a beacon for hope in the Middle East in Tehran, not Baghdad. The risk is that we'll blow it.
Iran is a dazzling smorgasbord, from its "Death to America" murals to its winding bazaars. You can join me on a multimedia tour of Iran here.
Laws Determine Internet Offenses
May 19, 2004
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
Tehran -- Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elhamhere Tuesday said that the laws and the policies approved by the ruling system serve as the main basis for probe into Internet offenses.
Speaking to domestic reporters in his weekly address, he made the remarks in response to a question raised concerning claims of complete closure of Internet on account of what was termed by some judicial officials as profanity and insult to the values on the Internet.
He denounced the quoted remarks and said that he has no reply to them and added that such a view would be disapproved by the judiciary.
"The judiciary is neither a policy-maker, nor a lawmaker. It rather enforces the laws and policies approved by the ruling system. This is our main working policy."
"There are some laws approved by the high council for cultural revolution, which indicate the legal and illegal cases, methods of inspection, filtering and the centers eligible to present Internet services on domestic or international sites," he added.
"Given that the electronic trade law was ratified and the judiciary as well as nationwide justice departments were notified to enforce it, hereafter specialized courts would mainly probe internet offenses."
"According to the electronic trade law, charges of infiltrating private networks lacking license as well as wiping or copying the confidential documents belonging to companies or individuals could be filed at courts," he added.
Arrests Of Journalists and Press Freedom Violations Continue Unabated
May 19, 2004
Reporters Without Borders
Two more journalists arrested, a managing editor banned from doing his job, and two newspapers suspended. Iranian courts persist in serious press freedom violations.
Managing editor Massiolah Soltani, of the weekly Sedai é Zanjan, was summonsed on 13 May 2004 by the third chamber of the Zanjan court in the north-west of the country and after questioning he was immediately remanded in custody. He is accused of "disseminating false news" and "disturbing public opinions and order". His colleague, Massud Almassi, was arrested for the same reasons on 15 May. The newspaper decided to suspend publication in protest against the arrests which it termed "illegaI and arbitrary". The arrests appeared to be linked to a story carried by the newspaper about the rape of a four-year-old girl.
Editor of the monthly Aftab (The Sun), Issa Saharkhiz, was given a six-month ban on all journalistic work and fined two million rials (about 2,000 euros). The Tehran court gave its verdict almost three months after the trial, that took place on 25 February. One year earlier, in its 28th edition, Aftab carried a translation of an article "The Lessons of Iran" written by Israeli Bary Robin on the 1979 Iranian revolution. The author considered that "the Ayatollah Khomeini's criticism of the Shah's relations with the West was unjust." Iranian courts ruled that the article was "an insult to the guide of the revolution"
Elsewhere, on 5 May, the Azeri-language daily Nedai Azarabadegan was suspended for two months by the Tabriz court and ordered to pay a three million-rials fine (about 3,000 euros). Its editor Abolfazle Vésali, said that several bodies had made complaints against the newspaper but that he believed "it had only done its job in providing news".
The following day, the weekly Gorgan é Emrouz was banned. Its editor Mostafa Sabti, has been imprisoned since 19 March on the orders of the first branch of Gorgan Court in northern Iran. Sentenced on 1 September 2003 to three months in prison and four months suspended, Sabti had been on temporary release since then. He had published an open letter from residents of a neighbourhood in Gorgan protesting at the taking over of a park by the local authorities. The courts, implicated in the case, laid a complaint for defamation.
With 14 currently behind bars, Iran is the Middle East's largest prison for journalists.
GOP Woman of Iranian Heritage Wins
May 19, 2004
The Seattle Times
The Associated Press
PORTLAND -- Goli Ameri, a businesswoman who played up her Iranian heritage during the campaign, won the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District race yesterday and will face incumbent Democrat David Wu in November.
Ameri defeated stockbroker Tim Phillips and Jason Meshell.
In another congressional battle, Lake Oswego lawyer Jim Zupancic was leading state Sen. Jackie Winters for the Republican nomination. The winner will face Rep. Darlene Hooley.
In the presidential primary, Sen. John Kerry easily won nomination by Democrats.
With 83 percent of the vote counted, Kerry had won 81 percent of the votes, compared with 16 percent for U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and 2 percent for perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche.
President Bush was unopposed on the Republican ballot.
Meanwhile, incumbent Bill Bradbury trounced Paul Damian Wells in the Democratic primary for secretary of state, and on the GOP side, state Rep. Betsy Close of Albany defeated Portland businessman Fred Granum.
Thousands in Tehran anti-US March
May 19, 2004
A police cordon prevented serious damage to the embassy building Thousands of Iranians have marched on the streets of Tehran to protest against US and UK policy in Iraq.
Demonstrators also hurled petrol bombs at the British embassy but no serious damage was reported.
The protesters held placards and chanted slogans denouncing coalition troops for fighting in the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala, sacred to Shias.
The marchers were summoned by a call from Iran's Shia clergy - a frequent critic of the Iraq occupation.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says several hundred protesters initially gathered at the British embassy.
Their ranks were swelled by up to 3,000 more, some of whom then broke away from the main demonstration.
Petrol bombs and bricks were hurled at the building by protesters who were kept at a distance by a cordon of riot police.
Similar protests also took place outside the British embassy on Sunday.
Wednesday's march drew to a climax in Tehran's enormous Inghelab (Revolution) square, where protesters burned American, British and Israeli flags.
Iran's leaders have been calling for demonstrations in three cities - Tehran, Mashhad and the holy city of Qom.
"Muslims cannot tolerate the insolent attacks by US soldiers against the holy places and these crimes can only be condemned in the eyes of the Islamic world, the Shias and the Iranian people," the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said.
US troops have been blockading the Iraqi city of Najaf, where they have met stiff resistance from Shia militiamen loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.
Sporadic skirmishes between the two parties have caused minor damage to the dome of the shrine of Imam Ali, a founding father of the Shia faith.
Though critical of the Americans, Iran's clergy has stopped short of backing Mr Sadr.
An End to Ron Arad Saga?
May 19, 2004
Ron Arad, an Israel Air Force navigator who went missing in Lebanon in 1986, is reportedly dead.
Quoting diplomatic sources close to efforts to determine Arad´s whereabouts, Reuters said on Wednesday that he is dead and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah has his body. According to the report, Hezbollah is also holding the remains of three Israeli soldiers who disappeared during a 1982 tank battle in Lebanon.
Israeli officials said they were checking the report. Arad, bailed out during a combat mission after his Phantom jet developed engine trouble. Israel believes he has been held in Iran.
Stop the Moral Equivalence
May 19, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
It is said that to win a battle you must be the one to choose the battleground. Since the Abu Ghraib abuses were revealed, the battleground has been chosen by those who would blur the lines between terrorists and those fighting against them. The Bush administration has contributed to the confusion with its ambiguous "war on terror." You cannot fight a word. You need targets, you need to know what you are fighting for and against. Most importantly you must have beliefs that enable you to distinguish friend from foe.
While al Qaeda may not have a headquarters to bomb, there is no shortage of visible adversaries. What is required is to name them and to take action against them. We must also drag into the light those leaders and media who fail to condemn acts of terror. It is not only Al Jazeera talking about "insurgents" in Iraq, it is CNN. Many in Europe and even some in the U.S. are trying to differentiate "legitimate" terrorism from "bad" terrorism. Those who intentionally kill innocent civilians are terrorists, as are their sponsors. No political agenda should be allowed to advance through terrorist activity. We need to identify our enemy, not play with words.
The situation is worse in the Muslim world. Calling the terrorists "militants" or "radical Islamists" presupposes the existence of moderates willing to confront the radicals. Outside of Turkey, it is very hard to find moderate clerics who will stand up to Islamist terrorists, even though the majority of their victims are Muslim. In Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr has been murdering his religious opposition and using armed gangs to establish political rule. He appears immune to anything resembling condemnation. We know that his militia receives outside support -- and where would it come from other than Syria and Iran?
We have seen 25 years of anti-Western propaganda and hatred emanating from Iran, not only against Israel and the U.S. but against the liberal values that make up the core of our civilization. The effect has been to so polarize the Muslim world that we are left with two unappealing groups. On one side you have those who rally support by exhortation against a common foe: America and Israel. We may call this the Arafat model. By appearing to be the only viable leader in Palestine he has received billions of dollars from the European Union to prop up his corrupt organization and to fund terrorism. Hijacking, suicide bombings, hostage-taking -- this "Palestinian know-how" has been exported throughout the region.
Leaders of this type focus the energy of an impoverished people into fighting a sworn enemy. They realize that the free circulation of liberal ideas would threaten their hold on power. With modern methods of communication it is impossible to build a new Iron Curtain, so they convince their people that they are engaged in a war against the very source of these democratic ideals. Arafat has done this successfully for decades.
On the other side of this dual model we have dictators who present themselves as the last bastion against religious extremists. Gen. Musharraf in Pakistan and the Saudi royal family are supported by the U.S. and given free reign to limit human rights because they are considered the lesser evil. Yet the more favor they have with the U.S., the more they are hated at home, empowering the extremist opposition. Everyone gets what they want in the short run but it is a recipe for inevitable meltdown.
U.S. success in Iraq is essential in order to provide an alternative model. Unlike Vietnam, there will be repercussions for global security if America does not finish the job. This is the big picture that must stay in focus. We are dealing with an enemy who considers the concessions and privileges of democracy to be weaknesses. To prove them wrong we must follow through.
The Islamic public-relations offensive is focused on proving that the West is corrupt and offers no improvement on the despots in charge throughout the Islamic world. At the same time, Al Jazeera isn't examining Vladimir Putin's war against Muslims in Chechnya. All of Chechnya is one big Abu Ghraib, but the Islamic world pays scant attention to the horrible crimes there because Mr. Putin shares their distaste for liberal democracy. The war is not about defending Muslims; it is about Western civilization and America as its representative.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to pursue a nuclear arsenal and the U.N. Secretariat, France and Russia are busily covering up their involvement in the Oil-for-Food scandal. If we are to impress the superiority of the democratic model upon the Muslim world we must thoroughly investigate any and all allegations of abuse and clean up our act. This goes for plush U.N. offices as well as Iraqi prison cells.
It is a mistake to see the debate on how to deal with terrorism along antiquated political lines. Partisan politics have played a role, but for the most part the battle to do what is necessary to win this war has freely crossed traditional party boundaries. One's beliefs about tax policy and social benefits have little to do with how to deal with the terrorist threat being generated in the Islamic world.
Every era dictates its own political divisions. In 19th century Great Britain, the political fight centered on the Corn Laws, reform bills and home rule for Ireland. Many of the old splits have vanished in Europe but this new divide is both wider and more vital. Jacques Chirac on the right is against intervention while Labour's Tony Blair is for it. The consequences of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero caving in after the Madrid attack have yet to be felt, but I have no doubt that we will be facing more attacks in Europe based on the terrorists' reading of the weakness of European leaders.
In this fight the enemy does not play by our rules, or by any rules at all. WMD will be in terrorist hands eventually; conventional wisdom recognizes this reality. Concessions and negotiations at best only delay catastrophe. Europe and its people are in this war whether they acknowledge it or not. Those who would appease terrorists must realize that by pretending that this battle does not exist, they will soon have blood on their hands -- both real and metaphorical.
Mr. Kasparov, the world's leading chess player, is chairman of the Free Choice 2008 Committee in Russia.
Hezbollah Chief Denies Involvement In Palestinian Attacks
May 19, 2004
The Associated Press
BEIRUT -- Hezbollah has nothing to do with suicide bombings and other attacks carried out by militant Palestinian groups in Israel, the leader of Lebanon's militant organization said.
It was the first time that Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has sought to distance his group from ongoing fierce battles pitting Hamas and Islamic Jihad guerrillas against Israeli troops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"In Lebanon, the will of challenge and steadfastness is facing the daily Israeli threats. Every day carries with it an (Israeli) threat against Lebanon. When brothers in Palestine carry out an operation...the (Israeli) enemy blames Hezbollah. This is not true," Nasrallah told a rally in Beirut's southern suburbs late Tuesday.
"These attacks are carried out by the Palestinians themselves. This is their struggle and resistance launched by their various factions. These are their sacrifices, struggles and blood which is being shed and which makes victory," he said.
Last month, Israeli intelligence sources, Palestinian Authority officials and militants told The Associated Press Hezbollah has become a key sponsor of Palestinian violence, funding suicide bombings that have killed dozens of Israelis in recent months.
The sources said Hezbollah in recent months has pulled off something akin to a hostile takeover of some of cells of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, wrenching them away from Yasser Arafat's secular Fatah movement and turning them into a proxy army.
Israeli officials say Hezbollah helps coordinate joint shootings and bombings by the three Palestinian militant groups - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - and has been trying to spur Israel's Arab citizens -who have mostly stayed out of the uprising - to join in. Israel's Shin Bet security service says that six Hezbollah cells have been discovered among Israeli Arabs since 2003.
At the time the report was released, Hezbollah officials in Beirut refused to comment when contacted by The AP.
In his speech, Nasrallah said Israel's charges against Hezbollah were aimed at "intimidating" Lebanon and Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon. Like Iran , which backs Hezbollah, Syria supported Hezbollah's guerrilla war against Israel's 18-year occupation of a border zone in southern Lebanon that ended in 2000.
"We are not afraid (of Israeli threats). We have never been afraid," Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, has repeatedly called on various Palestinian factions to step up their armed uprising against Israel as the only way to liberate their country from Israeli occupation.
Many Palestinians admire Hezbollah, crediting its guerrilla war with having forced Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon four years ago.
Despite the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah still launches occasional attacks on Israeli forces in a disputed area where the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet.
Lebanon has rejected U.S. demands to dismantle Hezbollah, which is branded a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Lebanon and many Arab governments regard Hezbollah as a legitimate resistance movement against Israeli occupation.
The Looming Summer Of Discontent In Iran
Roya Johnson, 05/18/04
With summer fast approaching, Irans internal security forces are gearing up to crackdown on anti-government demonstrations which usually escalate in the months of June and July.
There have been many protests in Irans major cities already. In March, violent anti-government protests erupted in Fereydoun Kenar, Marivan, Boukan, and Isfahan. And earlier this month, teachers in Tehran and elsewhere staged demonstrations that led to the closure of many schools across the country. Moreover, more than 20,000 people took part in a protest by tea growers in northern Iran last week.
To stem the rising momentum of popular protests, Irans theocratic rulers are undertaking pre-emptive measures by deploying the security forces in Tehran and other major cities. Special units of the Revolutionary Guards Corps regularly take position in many of the capitals major intersections and streets. Roaming around in groups of four or five, they harass particularly the students and young people, making their presence felt.
In an editorial entitled, The Guards must keep their guard up, the state-controlled daily, Ressalat, expressed concern over the spread of popular uprisings. Certainly, the psychological atmosphere of June and July requires the vigilance of the Hezbollah as never before, it wrote last week.
The number of executions including public hangings has been on the rise in recent weeks. Agence France Presse reported last week that three people were hanged in Tehran and in the northeastern city of Mashhad. Execution, torture and ill-treatment of political dissidents are a main component of Irans highly elaborate and institutionalized suppression designed specifically to terrorize and subdue an increasingly restive population.
Last month, Judiciary Chief Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi issued a statement purportedly banning any kind of torture to obtain confessions. Human rights organizations wasted no time in dismissing this proclamation as a non-starter, pointing out that Shahroudis statement was in fact an official admission of systemic use of torture in Iran. What is more, Iran has not yet joined the Convention Against Torture, because, among other things, Tehran has sanctioned as divine punishment the very conduct the world community has condemned as torture.
Some of the punishments under the Iranian regimes penal code are flogging, eye gouging, limb amputation and stoning, just to name a few. On any given day, a religious judge could issue an order for Tazir, a religious term for physical punishment of the detainee that ranges form lashing the victim for hours to solitary confinement and electric shock, etc.
Irans fundamentalist rulers even dispute the definition of political prisoner, saying that Iranian law did not recognize the status of political prisoners. "This word has no legal definition, but some people consider actions against national security as a political crime," a Judiciary official said last month.
In the past quarter century, Irans leaders have used spin and double-talk in dealing with the international community. In negotiations over suspending uranium enrichment program, the term suspension has a totally different meaning for the mullahs. The same goes for the meaning of torture and political prisoner. The plight of thousands of Iranians who paid the price of trusting the mullahs for their words should serve as examples to those who still believe the mullahs really mean what they say.
Clearly, the mullahs, anticipating a long and hot summer of discontent, are banking on the international communitys ambivalence as they implement their pre-emptive measures to keep the democracy movement at bay. Without doubt, the United Nations Human Rights Commissions indifference toward the deteriorating state of human rights in Iran, reflected in the European Unions failure to table a censure resolution against Iran in the Commissions April session in Geneva, emboldened Irans ruling tyrants.
Irans democracy movement offers the only chance for real change in Iran through peaceful means. The United States security concerns could only be alleviated if and when the rule of law and democracy prevail in Iran. The mullahs shield their tyrannical house of cards behind tall, thick and ubiquitous walls of suppression. We should, therefore, give priority to efforts aimed at ensuring respect for the human rights of Irans citizens and Iranian dissidents striving to establish secular and representative governance in that country.
Good for her!
Let Freedom Ring ~ Bump!
Thanks. I enjoyed that video. Would like to watch again and take some notes.....
I didn't understand his saying that he was afraid (or there was a fear) that "hardliners here will bolster hardliners there". (?)
One important point he brought out was the emphasis on letting Iranian people know that U.S. isn't against Iranian people, but that our "target" is the regime.
Good photos in that video.
Amir Taheri: "Islam Is Incompatible With Democracy"
May 19, 2004
Amir Taheri's remarks during the debate on " Islam Is Incompatible With Democracy"
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad that this debate takes place in English.
Because, were it to be conducted in any of the languages of our part of the world, we would not have possessed the vocabulary needed.
To understand a civilisation it is important to understand its vocabulary.
If it was not on their tongues it is likely that it was not on their minds either.
There was no word in any of the Muslim languages for democracy until the 1890s. Even then the Greek word democracy entered Muslim languages with little change: democrasi in Persian, dimokraytiyah in Arabic, demokratio in Turkish.
Democracy as the proverbial schoolboy would know is based on one fundamental principle: equality.
The Greek word for equal isos is used in more than 200 compound nouns; including isoteos (equality) and Isologia (equal or free speech) and isonomia (equal treatment).
But again we find no equivalent in any of the Muslim languages. The words we have such as barabari in Persian and sawiyah in Arabic mean juxtaposition or levelling.
Nor do we have a word for politics.
The word siassah, now used as a synonym for politics, initially meant whipping stray camels into line.( Sa'es al-kheil is a person who brings back lost camels to the caravan. )The closest translation may be: regimentation.
Nor is there mention of such words as government and the state in the Koran.
It is no accident that early Muslims translated numerous ancient Greek texts but never those related to political matters. The great Avicenna himself translated Aristotle's Poetics. But there was no translation of Aristotle's Politics in Persian until 1963.
Lest us return to the issue of equality.
The idea is unacceptable to Islam.
For the non-believer cannot be the equal of the believer.
Even among the believers only those who subscribe to the three so-called Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam ( Ahl el-Kitab) are regarded as fully human.
Here is the hierarchy of human worth in Islam:
At the summit are free male Muslims
Next come Muslim male slaves
Then come free Muslim women
Next come Muslim slave women.
Then come free Jewish and /or Christian men
Then come slave Jewish and/or Christian men
Then come slave Jewish and/or Christian women.
Each category has rights that must be respected.
The People of the Book have always been protected and relatively well-treated by Muslim rulers, but often in the context of a form of apartheid known as dhimmitude.
The status of the rest of humanity, those whose faiths are not recognised by Islam or who have no faith at all, has never been spelled out although wherever Muslim rulers faced such communities they often treated them with a certain measure of tolerance and respect ( As in the case of Hindus under the Muslim dynasties of India.)
Non-Muslims can, and have often been, treated with decency, but never as equals.
(There is a hierarchy even for animals and plants. Seven animals and seven plants will assuredly go to heaven while seven others of each will end up in Hell.)
Democracy means the rule of the demos, the common people, or what is now known as popular or national sovereignty.
In Islam, however, power belongs only to God: al-hukm l'illah. The man who exercises that power on earth is known as Khalifat al-Allah, the regent of God.
But even then the Khalifah or Caliph cannot act as legislator. The law has already been spelled out and fixed for ever by God.
The only task that remains is its discovery, interpretation and application.
That, of course, allows for a substantial space in which different styles of rule could develop.
But the bottom line is that no Islamic government can be democratic in the sense of allowing the common people equal shares in legislation.
Islam divides human activities into five categories from the permitted to the sinful, leaving little room for human interpretation, let alone ethical innovations.
What we must understand is that Islam has its own vision of the world and man's place in it.
To say that Islam is incompatible with democracy should not be seen as a disparagement of Islam.
On the contrary, many Muslims would see it as a compliment because they sincerely believe that their idea of rule by God is superior to that of rule by men which is democracy.
In Muslim literature and philosophy being forsaken by God is the worst that can happen to man.
The great Persian poet Rumi pleads thus:
Oh, God, do not leave our affairs to us
For, if You do, woe be to us.
Rumi mocks those who claim that men can rule themselves.
You are not reign even over your beard,
That grows without your permission.
How can you pretend, therefore,
To rule about right and wrong?
The expression "abandoned by God" sends shivers down Muslim spines. For it spells the doom not only of individuals but of entire civilisations.
The Koran tells the stories of tribes, nations and civilisations that perished when God left them to their devices.
The great Persian poet Attar says :
I have learned of Divine Rule in Yathirb ( i.e. Medinah, the city of the Prophet)
What need do I have of the wisdom of the Greeks?
Hafez, another great Persian poet, blamed man's "hobut" or fall on the use of his own judgment against that of God:
I was an angel and my abode was the eternal paradise
Adam ( i.e.) man brought me to this place of desolation
Islamic tradition holds that God has always intervened in the affairs of men, notably by dispatching 124000 prophets or emissaries to inform the mortals of His wishes and warnings.
Many Islamist thinkers regard democracy with horror.
The late Ayatollah Khomeini called democracy " a form of prostitution" because he who gets the most votes wins the power that belongs only to God.
Sayyed Qutub, the Egyptian who has emerged as the ideological mentor of Safalists, spent a year in the United States in the 1950s.
He found "a nation that has forgotten God and been forsaken by Him; an arrogant nation that wants to rule itself."
Last year Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of the leading theoreticians of today's Islamist movement, published a book ( available on the Internet) in which he warned that the real danger to Islam did not come from American tanks and helicopter gunships in Iraq but from the idea of democracy and rule by the people.
Maudoodi, another of the Islamist theoreticians now fashionable, dreamed of a political system in which human beings would act as automatons in accordance with rules set by God.
He said that God has arranged man's biological functions in such a way that their operation is beyond human control. For our non-biological functions, notably our politics, God has set rules that we have to discover and apply once and for all so that our societies can be on auto-pilot so to speak.
The late Saudi theologian, Sheikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Jubair, a man I respected though seldom agreed with, sincerely believed that the root cause of all of our contemporary ills was the spread of democracy.
" Only one ambition is worthy of Islam," he liked to say, " the ambition to save the world from the curse of democracy: to teach men that they cannot rule themselves on the basis of manmade laws. Mankind has strayed from the path of God, we must return to that path or face certain annihilation."
Thus those who claim that Islam is compatible with democracy should know that they are not flattering Muslims.
In fact, most Muslims would feel insulted by such assertions.
How could a manmade form of government, invented by the heathen Greeks, be compared with Islam which is God's final word to man, the only true faith, they would ask.
In the past 14 centuries Muslims have, on occasions, succeeded in creating successful societies without democracy.
And there is no guarantee that democracy never produces disastrous results. (After all Hitler was democratically elected.)
The fact that almost all Muslim states today can be rated as failures or, at least, underachievers, is not because they are Islamic but because they are ruled by corrupt and despotic elites that, even when they proclaim an Islamist ideology, are, in fact, secular dictators.
Let us recall the founding myth of democracy as related by Protagoras in Plato.
Protagoras's claim that the rule of the people, democracy, is the best, is ridiculed by Socrates who points out that men always call on experts to deal with specific tasks but when it comes to the more important matters concerning the city, i.e. the community, they allow every Tom , Dick and Harry an equal say.
Protagoras says that when man was created he lived a solitary existence and was unable to protect himself and his kin against more powerful beasts.
Consequently men came together to secure their lives by founding cities. But the cities were torn by strife because inhabitants did wrong to one another.
Zeus, watching the proceedings, realised that the reason that things were going badly was that men did not have the art of managing the city ( politike techne).
Without that art man was heading for destruction.
So, Zeus called in his messenger, Hermes and asked him to deliver two gifts to mankind: aidos and dike.
Aidos is a sense of shame and a concern for the good opinion of others.
Dike here means respect for the right of others and implies a sense of justice that seeks civil peace through adjudication.
Before setting off Hermes asks a decisive question: Should I deliver this new art to a select few, as was the case in all other arts, or to all?
Zeus replies with no hesitation : To all. Let all have their share.
Protagoras concludes his reply to Socrates' criticism of democracy thus:" Hence it comes about, Socrates, that people in the cities, and especially in Athens, listen only to experts in matters of expertise but when they meet for consultation on the political art, i.e. of the general question of government, everybody participates."
Traditional Islamic political thought is closer to Socrates than to Protagoras.
The common folk, al-awwam, are regarded as "animals "( al-awwam kal anaam!)
The interpretation of the Divine Law is reserved only for the experts.
In Iran there is even a body called The Assembly of Experts.
Political power, like many other domains, including philosophy, is reserved for the " khawas" who, in some Sufi traditions, are even exempt from the ritual rules of the faith.
The " common folk", however, must do as they are told either by the text and tradition or by fatwas issued by the experts. Khomeini coined the word "mustazafeen" (the feeble ones) to describe the common folk.
In the Greek tradition once Zeus has taught men the art of politics he does not try to rule them.
To be sure he and other Gods do intervene in earthly matters but always episodically and mostly in pursuit of their illicit pleasures.
Polytheism is by its pluralistic nature is tolerant, open to new gods, and new views of old gods. Its mythology personifies natural forces that could be adapted, by allegory, to metaphysical concepts.
One could in the same city and at the same time mock Zeus as a promiscuous old rake, henpecked and cuckolded by Juno, or worship him as justice defied.
This is not possible in monotheism especially Islam, the only truly monotheistic of the three Abrahamic faiths.
In monotheism for the One to be stable in its One-ness it is imperative that the many be stabilised in their many-ness.
The God of monotheism does not discuss or negotiate matters with mortals.
He dictates, be it the 10 Commandments or the Koran which was already composed and completed before Allah sent his Hermes, Archangel Gabriel, to dictate it to Muhammad:
Read, the Koran starts with the command; In the name of Thy God The Most High!
Islam's incompatibility with democracy is not unique. It is shared by other religions. For faith is about certainty while democracy is about doubt. There is no changing of one's mind in faith, while democracy is about changing minds and sides.
If we were to use a more technical terminology faith creates a nexus and democracy a series.
Democracy is like people waiting for a bus.
They are of different backgrounds and have different interests. We don't care what their religion is or how they vote. All they have in common is their desire to get on that bus. And they get off at whatever stop they wish.
Faith, however is internalised. Turned into a nexus it controls man's every thought and move even in his deepest privacy.
Democracy, of course, is compatible with Islam because democracy is serial and polytheistic. People are free to believe whatever they like to believe and perform whatever religious rituals they wish, provided they do not infringe on other's freedoms in the public domain.
The other way round, however, it does not work.
Islam cannot allow people to do as they please , even in the privacy of their bedrooms, because God is always present, everywhere, all-hearing and all-seeing.
There is consultation in Islam: Wa shawerhum fil amr. ( And consult them in matters)
But the consultation thus recommended is about specifics only, never about the overall design of society.
In democracy there is a constitution that can be changed or at least amended.
The Koran, however, is the immutable word of God, beyond change or amendment.
This debate is not easy.
For Islam has become an issue of political controversy in the West.
On the one hand we have Islamophobia, a particular affliction of those who blame Islam for all the ills of our world.
The more thin skinned Muslims have ended up on regarding every criticism of Islam as Islamophobia.
On the other hand we have Islamoflattery that claims that everything good under the sun came from Islam. ( According to a recent PBS serial on Islam, even cinema was invented by a lens-maker in Baghdad, named Abu-Hufus!)
This is often practised by a new generation of the Turques de profession, Westerners who are prepared to apply the rules of critical analysis to everything under the sun except Islam.
They think they are doing Islam a favour.
The opposite is true.
Depriving Islam of critical scrutiny is bad for Islam and Muslims, and ultimately dangerous for the whole world.
The debate is about how to organise the global public space that is shared by the whole humanity. That space must be religion-neutral and free of ideology, which means organised on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
There are 57 nations in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Not one is yet a democracy .
The more Islamic the regime in place the less democratic it is.
Democracy is the rule of mortal common men.
Islam is the rule of immortal God.
Politics is the art of the possible and democracy a method of dealing with the problems of real life.
Islam, on the other hand, is about the unattainable ideal.
We should not allow the everything-is-equal-to-everything-else fashion of postmodernist multiculturalism and political correctness to prevent us from acknowledging differences and, yes, incompatibilities, in the name of a soggy consensus.
If we are all the same how can we have a dialogue of civilisations, unless we elevate cultural schizophrenia into an existential imperative.
Muslims should not be duped into believing that they can have their cake and eat it. Muslims can build democratic society provided they treat Islam as a matter of personal, private belief and not as a political ideology that seeks to monopolise the pubic space and regulate every aspect of individual and community life.
Ladies and gentlemen: Islam is incompatible with democracy.
I commend the motion.
* The motion was carried by 403 votes for, 267 against and 28 undecided.
Amir Taheri: "Islam Is Incompatible With Democracy"
May 19, 2004
RE: Amir Taheri: "Islam Is Incompatible With Democracy"
excellant read, but not very comforting, that's for darn sure. Gives one pause as to why we should stay in Iraq very much longer, imo.
Therefore, it is possible for Islamic countries to have democracy but only if they realize that the two are seperate and have entirely different functions.
Or am I reading into his words my hopes?
BBC reported 3,000
and AFP reported hundreds of thousands
While Reuters reported 100,000
I've got reports from Iran that say around 3-5k.
So how is it Reuters and AFP are ridiculously off?
It seems to me, that the words "Christianity" and "Bible" could replace "Muslim" and "Koran" a number of times within this speech, and make Christianity seem incompatible also. Where does he mention the millions of muslims who don't speak Persian or Arabic? There are 5x as many muslims living in Asia as there are in the Middle East.
I would say that Islam as it originated, in its strictest form , is incompatible with democracy. But do the vast majority of muslims practice it that way? Or "as a matter of personal, private belief" ? This is the more important issue. (IMO)
Well, As far as I know... there is a fear that any tough action we take regarding the Hardliners in Iran might make them move quick to reach the A-bomb or might make them oppress people more to secure themselves within the country. OR, being very tough to them might make them declare war on us or on their own people. The regime in Iran is very afraid!
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