Perhaps the most compelling political drama of this summer has been the presidential "election" in Iran and its aftermath, which continues today in expressions of dissent and in government show trials.
What is your take on this political "process"? (Some material is readily available on OAC group "Anthropology of Iran.") Would you dare prognosticate developments in the near or middle future?
Hossein Karroubi, the son of defeated Reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi, says his father’s letter to Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani was sent for the purpose of being forwarded to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Karroubi recently sent a letter to Rafsanjani in which he requested an investigation into the rape of the detainees of the country’s post-election unrest. Karroubi made the letter public after the expiry of the 10-day deadline he had given Rafsanjani to reply to his letter.
In an interview with Deutshe Welle, Hossein Karroubi said his father had not disclosed the source from which he had obtained information about the sexual assault on prisoners at Kahrizak camp. “I do not know who he spoke with but my mother said my father could not sleep that night,” he said.
He added, “My father wants authorities to deal with the issue if it is true and if it is not [he wants them to] defend themselves.”
Following the announcement of the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, countless Iranians — including journalists, political activists and ordinary people on the streets — were detained by security and Basij forces, and transferred to undisclosed locations.
Shocking revelations about prisoner abuse that precipitated the deaths of a number of detainees sparked widespread outrage in Iran.
After the confirmation that Mohsen Rouholamini, the son of a senior aide to conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Razaei, had died in the Kahrizak detention center, Iran’s Supreme Leader personally ordered the closure of the facility.
Hossein Karroubi went on to say that the reason his father had written the letter to Rafsanjani was so that he could broach the topic with the Supreme Leader, given his proximity to Khamenei.
“Mr. Rafsanjani sent a reply that surprised me. He wrote that he has asked Judiciary Chief [Mahmoud Hashemi-] Shahroudi to look into the matter in his final days in office,” the Reformist candidate’s son told D-W. “My father could have written a letter [directly] to Mr. Shahroudi any day.”
Asked if he had heard any firsthand accounts of prisoner abuse at Kahrizak, Hossein Karroubi said, “[Eyewitnesses] told me the cells were infested with insects, and also that their cells were tear-gassed.”
He added, “[I was told] they [prisoners] were thrown on top of each other and sexually violated. They told me that they were not spared any abuse and were severely beaten.”
“They told me that they were forced down on their hands and knees and called ‘donkeys’ — and that someone would mount their backs and whip them with a thick cable to move.”
[TEHRAN BUREAU] comment & analysis The second installment of the mass trial staged against reformist leaders and some of their supporters, was a lot like the first: The prosecutor read a long statement, which essentially amounted to a copy-and-paste job of articles and columns that have already appeared in hardline publications such as Kayhan, Javan, and the Fars News Agency, all of which have close links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
The proceedings were supposedly open to the public, but the courtroom had been packed with police officers, “reporters” from hardline newspapers, and agents of the security forces, so that no supporters of the reformists or families of those on trial could get in. Many family members of those arrested, together with a large number of the reformists’ supporters, had gathered outside the court. Some, including the wife and four children of Dr. Ali Tajernia — he is the head of Tehran‘s branch of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), which is the most important reformist group, and was a deputy in the 6th Majles (parliament) — had been waiting outside the court for hours just to get a glimpse of their loved one, who they had not seen or even spoken to for weeks. Dr. Tajernia’s wife and several other members of his family were arrested by security forces [since released]. In Iran of the hardliners, even gathering outside the court and attempting to see loved ones is an offense!
Present in the court among the accused were Dr. Tajernia, Dr. Ahmad Zeidabadi, a distinguished journalist close to the Nationalist-Religious Coalition and president of the Organization for the University Graduates of Islamic Iran (known in Iran as Advaar-e Tahkim), Shahaboddin Tabatabaei, a member of the central committee of the IIPF and head of the 88 Headquarters, an organization for monitoring the presidential election of June 12, Hedayat Aghaei, a leading member of the Executives of Reconstruction Party [an important reformist group], and Mohammad Javad Emam, a member of the central committee of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization (IRMO), another leading reformist group. Also present was Clotilde Reiss, a French citizen. The university student had been arrested while taking photos of a demonstration in Tehran.
An important figure not in court, and who was also missing from the first session last Saturday, was Mostafa Tajzadeh, an outspoken critic of the hardliners. Tajzadeh is a member of the central committee of both the IIPF and IRMO, and he was a deputy interior minister in the first administration of Mohammad Khatami. He is said to have been severely injured during the interrogation, and is in a military hospital.
The prosecutor failed to lay out a legal basis for arresting and putting these people on trial. What he read in court was a political manifesto, an analysis of the ongoing situation from the point of view of the hardliners. Once again, the prosecutor began by attributing the 85% turnout in the presidential election to people’s satisfaction with the political system — a bogus claim — rather than the Iranian people’s peaceful and legal way of trying to bring about much-needed change in the political system.
The prosecutor then described the so-called plans for a “soft overthrow” of the political system by foreign governments. The “grand” plan, according to the prosecutor, was put in place becasue:
(a) The victory of the Islamic Revolution had threatened the colonial interests of foreign powers in Iran and in the strategic area of the Persian Gulf, resulting in increased enmity toward Iran…
(b) [The prosecutor forgot about item (b)!]
According to the prosecutor, the West, led by the United Stated, has been trapped in the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires. That, together with the defeat of the “Zionist regime” [Israel] in its 33-day war with Hezbollah [in Lebanon during summer of 2006] and its 22-day war in the Gaza Strip [in December 2008 and early January 2009], have greatly reduced the possibility of military options against Iran. As a result, along with other soft and covert actions being considered and used by the West against Iran, they have resorted to the information superhighway and other means of modern information dissemination.
The new policy of the West, especially the United States and Britain, for confronting the Islamic Republic, according to the prosecutor, includes these elements:
Setting up [superficial] democracies that support the goals and interests of the West;
Creating internal insecurity and strengthening the differences [between various groups] with the goal of hampering the Islamic republic internally, and
[Finding ways to] contain Iran’s power and influence in the region.
To achieve these goals, the foreign powers have been using the media, “public diplomacy,” and the creation of popular organizations and communication networks [between them]; organizing the opposition with the goal of promoting civil disobedience and organizing peaceful struggle plays. And according to the prosecutor, they have devoted large budgets for all of these projects.
To set up a fifth column, Western intelligence agencies have been trying to exploit any opportunity [inside Iran, including the] use of internal opposition [to the political system] as their operational arms [within Iran]. [They have turned to such outlawed groups such] as the Freedom Movement (FM) [a nationalist-religious group led by Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, a close aid to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Foreign Minister in the first government after the 1979 Revolution] to create insecurity.
In the direction of the “grand plan,” the hypocrite subgroup [meaning the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO), an armed opposition group in exile and listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department] and ethnic groups, led and supported by foreigners, planted bombs [in public places], terrorized [the public], and created political and ethnic divisions [among Iranians]. They created a crisis, and carried out operations against the security [of the nation] during the presidential election. They attempted to assassinate one of the candidates in order to attribute it to Iranian officials within the political establishment to create doubts in all social groups in Iran.
The prosecutor also listed the elements of [the the alleged plan by the West for] overthrowing the Islamic republic of Iran as follows:
Resorting to propaganda to make people believe there was an imperative need to change Iran’s political system.
Providing international support for labor unions, so-called human rights groups, and civil society groups opposed to the Islamic Republic.
Imposing economic sanctions on Iran.
Providing covert financial support for the internal opposition
Identifying, attracting, and strengthening influential centers and people in society, including women, the youth, NGOs.
These elements were made operational before, during, and after the presidential election through public diplomacy and covert action. In effect, according to the prosecutor, all layers of society have been targeted by foreigners. He did not explain, however, why these foreigners thought that there were so many dissidents in all layers and classes of Iranian society, and why the foreign governments should have so easily been able to succeed in attracting and deploying them into action. Of course to do so, he would have had to acknowledge that a large majority of the population is deeply dissatisfied with the political system.
The prosecutor then read a long list detailing the ways in which one can achieve a “soft overthrow” of the political system, something which he called “public diplomacy” by the West. These included taking advantage of divisions between different groups in Iran; provoking civil disobedience through university student organizations, labor unions, and NGOs; emphasizing the importance of why the election in Iran needed international monitoring; supporting false human rights claims and democracy in Iran; helping to set up satellite TV and radio stations; supporting the internal opposition; granting visas to talented people that support the West; and inviting young people to take part in seminars outside Iran for training, similar to what they did in Serbia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Chile, Ukraine, etc. [all of which have supposedly experienced a “velvet revolution,” in view of the hardliners].
The prosecutor said that the United States has established an office in its embassy in the United Arab Emirates, the Office for Iran Affairs, similar to the type of office it had in Riga, Latvia, during the Cold War [this is true]. According to him, the Office is active in attracting the Iranian elite and influencing their thinking, with the goal of convincing them to take action against the national interests of the Islamic Republic. He then quoted the U.S. State Department spokesman in order to support his theory.
But, because the U.S. plots failed when their agents within Iran were arrested [the prosecutor did not provide any information as to who these agents were], they developed an alternative concept based on “exchanges between the two nations.” According to this alternative plan, many Iranians would be sent to the United States via U.S. offices in Dubai, Istanbul [Turkey], Baku [Republic of Azerbaijan], London, and Frankfurt [Germany]. This was accomplished through the George Soros Open Society, and other direct exchanges. [There is, of course, no direct link between such societies and the U.S. government.] Groups of 15 people are sent to the United States, all expenses paid, under the guise of such organizations as the Aspen Center, he charged. The prosecutor said that even this plot was defeated because their operatives were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence [again, no further information or explanation was given].
According to the prosecutor, after comparing Iran with the Ukraine and Georgia [both of which experienced a “velvet revolution”], Western governments concluded that elections in Iran were the best way to advance their goals and bring about change without any direct interference. What he did not say was that the Iranian people themselves also thought the same in terms of the election. They also thought that, without any help from outsiders, similar to what takes place in other countries around the world, they too could participate in the electoral process and vote, a peaceful, inexpensive and legal way to bring about change in the system. Except that the hardliners do not accept the results of elections that they hold and supervise themselves — unless the results go their way, that is!
Western governments also tried to achieve their goals, according to the prosecutor, by disrupting relations between the people and Iran’s Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], a relationship that does not really exist; trying to reduce popular support for the “holy” political system of the Islamic Republic [both inside and outside the country]; tarnishing the credibility and the prestige of the Islamic Republic in order to prevent it from becoming a successful model for other countries.
The prosecutor then claimed that the British government has tried to approach Iran’s political groups, contacting a well-known political figure in December 2008 and telling him that, “After you, we will seek out other political parties.” [The prosecutor did not name the person, nor did he explain why he was not arrested.] The British diplomats also made frequent trips to many Iranian cities, particularly Qom, and contacted the election campaigns of some of the candidates.
The prosecutor did not explain why the government granted permission to the diplomats for the trips in the first place, especially when they are so suspicious of Britain, and why after the first trip, when it became obvious what the goal of the trips were, they still granted permission for all the subsequent trips. According to him, the British embassy constantly sent its local staff to the demonstrations [a reference to the arrest of 9 local employees of the embassy, 5 of whom were later released]. The British government went so far as creating “a VIP visa section” in its embassy to give it better access to the elites who may have information about the country.
Other tactics used, according to the prosecutor, included convincing young people to use the same tactics that were used during the 1979 Revolution [presumably a reference to the shouts of Allah-o Akbar (God is great) that Mir Hossein Mousavi asked people to chant from rooftops]; establishing contacts with active operatives of the 88 Headquarters (in particular, Mr. Reza Rafiei, one of the accused); providing people with advanced software programs that can translate English into Persian instantly so that people could read what the British press was saying about Iran; and activating a Persian Facebook as a means of putting people in contact with each other. The prosecutor did not explain why, if such actions did indeed take place, and if they were so serious, why Iran has not protested Britain’s interference in Iran’s internal affairs, and why it has not broken off diplomatic relations with Britain.
According to the prosecutor, other countries from the European Union also participated in this “grand plan” [as if in these tough economic times, interference in Iran’s election was the most vital issue for these countries]. A German attorney established contact with his Iranian counterparts while staying in a hotel near where the “riots” were taking place. Two local employees of the German embassy were also active in collecting signatures from Iranian citizens, urging the United Nations Secretary-General [Mr. Ban Ki Moon] to travel to Iran [to inspect what had happened there]. Why the two employees were not arrested like the employees of the British embassy, according to this theory, was not explained by the prosecutor.
According to the prosecutor, the EU also supported demonstrations in front of Iran’s embassies in European countries [presumably, the evidence for this support was that there was no violent crackdown on them by the EU, the method of choice by the hardliners in Iran]; threatened to recall their ambassadors from Iran and restrict the number of visas granted to Iranian diplomats. Granting protesters permits was another indication [since the hardliners do not grant such permits to the reformists to stage peaceful protests, they expect other countries to do the same, as they consider themselves a “successful model” for other countries.]
The prosecutor then made more accusations against the British government for trying to intervene in Iran, by influencing public opinion. According to him, Britain does this through its educational institutions, research centers, and by providing scholarships to Iranian students, invitations to Iranian scholars to spend their sabbaticals in Britain, and keeping in touch with them after they return to Iran. These are all coordinated by the British Cultural Council, according to the prosecutor.
These activities, coupled with what the British embassy was doing in Iran, were intensified as the June election drew near. In particular, the British embassy was collecting speeches given and opinions expressed by important civilian and military officials, Friday Prayer sermons, discussions on national TV and radio, in mosques, in the Bazaar, etc., and analyzed and summarized twice a week under the supervision of Thomas Burn of the British embassy in Tehran. [Presumably, such information was provided by, or “confessed” to by the local staff of the British embassy after they were arrested and jailed. Burn was expelled from Iran.] Two of the arrested local employees of the British embassy, Hossein Rassam and Arash Momenian, have “confessed,” according to the prosecutor, that they were ordered to go to “illegal” gatherings held by Mousavi supporters and to report back to the embassy. Others had participated in various “illegal” demonstrations.
After the election, the British embassy staff, in the VIP visa section, met with an important reformist figure when he applied for a visa. They discussed what happened after the election, particularly after the “historical” sermons delivered by Ayatollah Khamenei on June 19 [when he announced that there was no fraud in the election and then threatened the nation]. Once again, the prosecutor did not explain why, with such a long litany of offenses committed by the British government, the Islamic Republic has not taken any strong action against Britain.
An interesting and revealing aspect of the prosecutor’s presentation was its repetitious nature. Many accusations were repeated over and over again, word for word. Why? He either ran out of arguments or because after copying and pasting from Kayhan, Javan and other hardline publications, he didn’t bother to eliminate repetitions.
The prosecutor also analyzed the role that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had played in all the events. One goal of the BBC, according to the prosecutor, was to increase the number of “citizen journalists.” This is the term that the reformists used after their publications and other means of communication were effectively blocked, and many leading journalists [about 40] were arrested. Thus, they asked people to act as citizen journalists and report on what they saw. The prosecutor tried to imply that this was yet another evil British plot!
The prosecutor did not say that if the Iranian people do listen to and watch foreign radios and TV, it is simply because they cannot obtain accurate reports and news from domestic sources. The national radio and TV network is totally biased and one-sided, the press is heavily censored, and the most important journalists have been imprisoned. So, where should the people turn to for accurate news, reports, and analyses?
In yet another attempt to influence the public, according to the prosecution, the BBC started round-the-clock Persian programs. The BBC, according to him, emphasized continuing the protests [against the rigged election] and rejecting the results of the election; it identified the IRGC and the Basij militia as the agents of the military coup and emphasized the importance of their elimination; it blew out of proportion the differences between various layers of society; it emphasized the support of part of the elite for the opposition and the protesters [presumably a reference to Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri and other progressive clerics]; it increased pressure on the president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] to resign, and it encouraged counter-revolutionary and terrorist groups to take action.
Although the prosecutor had already accused the Freedom Movement (FM) of trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic, in another copy and paste job from Kayhan, he turned to them again and began repeating the accusations. According to him, Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, the leader of the FM, made a three-month long trip to the United States [from February 2008-April 2008], after which his positions with respect to the political establishment were hardened. [Dr. Yazdi had traveled to the U.S. to treat his prostate cancer.] He began, according to the prosecutor, to explicitly speak about a “strategy for overthrowing the political system,” adding ‘peaceful’ to it, which only means “soft overthrow.” Dr. Yazdi also attacked, according to the prosecutor, the concept of Velaayat-e Faghih [guardianship of the jurist, the backbone of Iran’s political system represented by the Supreme Leader], and said in an interview that, “It is about time to evaluate the performance of Velaayat-e Faghih. We believe that Iran’s fundamental problem is the Velaayat-e Faghih.” Dr. Yazdi’s view is, of course, shared by many, but the hardliners do not see things that way.
Another “offense” of the FM, according to the prosecutor, was that it had established relations with other reformist groups, such as the IIPF and the IRMO, and that in doing so it was engaged in exchanging ideas and discussing various ways of getting Iran out of its present condition. Why such discussions were illegal in the first place was not clarified by the prosecutor. He then mentioned Emad Bahavar of the FM whose “offense,” according to the prosecutor, was that he worked for Mousavi’s campaign! [Bahavar was arrested, but recently released.]
The prosecutor then outlined the ways that the MKO has tried to take advantage of the protests against the rigged election. He mentioned that some of their supporters had been arrested. One has “confessed,” according to the prosecutor, that he had gone to Iraq [presumably to Camp Ashraf, where supporters of the MKO live] to receive computer training. [Why would anyone need to risk going to Iraq to receive such training?] The prosecutor also claimed that MKO supporters had penetrated the campaign of Mehdi Karroubi [the second reformist candidate in the presidential election], and had even planned to set off a bomb at a stadium in Tabriz [in the northwestern province of Azerbaijan] where a campaign rally of Mousavi had taken place.
The next target of the prosecutor was the Iranian monarchists. According to him, a monarchist organization, the Association of Monarchists, had carried out an extensive campaign in Iran, from trying to discredit Islam, to exploding a bomb in a mosque in Shiraz, in the South of Iran [which killed several people], and collecting information on military installations. While one cannot rule out that a small fraction of the long list of “operations” by the monarchists might have been carried out, the author finds it hard to believe that the monarchists have a network in Iran that could carry out the extensive list of operations that the prosecutor mentioned, since it would need significant local support that the monarchists lack. Their leader, Reza Pahlavi, asked the Iranian people to boycott the election, but the people responded with an 85% turnout.
Note that, throughout the long political manifesto read by the prosecutor, no mention was made of any of the reformist leaders who have been arrested, even though some of them were present in court on Saturday. The reason is clear: There is no evidence linking them with any foreign power. Even Ahmadinejad’s own Ministry of Intelligence has confirmed no evidence exists for such a link between the reformists and foreign powers; this report contributed to the firing of the Intelligence Minister, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei.
Thus, the entire statement was nothing but the usual rant against the reformists, and a repeat of the hallucinations expressed by the hardline newspapers. In carrying on in this fashion, the hardliners demonstrated their moral bankruptcy, their lack of legitimacy, and they demonstrated their fear in losing more supporters.
Update: Dr. Tajernia’s wife, who had been arrested together with her brother and his wife, have since been released.
As protests against the alleged vote-rigging in the June 12, 2009 Iranian presidential election were at their height in Iran and in other countries, the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousef , which is affiliated with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak, devoted a large part of its June 27 issue to articles against the Iranian government. While the articles' authors harshly criticized the Iranian regime, comparing it to Nazism, Fascism, and Al-Qaeda, and questioning its legitimacy, they did not focus specifically on the Iranian presidential election, but rather used it as a pretext to voice anti-Iranian views.
Relations between Iran and Egypt have been strained since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, with tension intensifying following the December 2008 Gaza war and the April 2009 capture of a Hizbullah cell operating in Egypt.(1)Accordingly, the articles elaborated on the "rule of the jurisprudent"(velayat-e faqih ) in Iran established by the revolution, attempting to refute the official Iranian claim that it was instated via democratic elections expressing the will of the people, and to show that the Iranian clerics' concept of government is incompatible with the principles of democracy.
It seems that in attacking the theocratic state, the authors of the articles were motivated in part by domestic political considerations – they aimed to warn the Egyptian public about the Muslim Brotherhood's intention to form an Islamic state in Egypt, and to undermine the organization's image by presenting it as an ally of Iran. By criticizing Iran, the authors also censured the Iranian lobby in the Egyptian press, which is represented by a group of journalists who are financed by Iran and who serve its interests.
Following are excerpts from the articles in the June 27, 2009 issue of Roz Al-Yousef:
Roz Al-Yousef Editor: Iran's Democracy is Spurious, Its Presidency Insignificant
In an article titled "Dictators in Allah's Name: The Absolute Supreme Leader and the Obedient President," Roz Al-Yousef editor 'Abdallah Kamal wrote: "The situation [in Iran] has reached the point where [an election] was rigged and [people] were shot and killed in the streets. A veritable hell! And yet, they still try to convince us that [the election] was democratic and vital, and that they have brought about a change of government.
"This country [Iran]… is nothing but one big fraud and a vast arena of corruption and conspiracies… No Iranian citizen can run in the elections without the approval of the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council. He must be 100% loyal to the Revolution, and is expected to believe in it and defend its principles. In other words, before winning the public votes, a candidate must secure the 'sacred vote'…"
Kamal wrote that Iran's elections are a mere show, and thus are worthless: "Putting aside for the present the game of presidential elections, which serve only to entertain the people… whose vote has no bearing on the nature of the state, the revolutionary regime has for the past 30 years been run by three people: the late [founder of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini, [Expediency Council chairman and former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani, and [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei…"
Kamal then launched a personal attack on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and dismissed the presidency as unimportant. He wrote: "The president of the Iranian regime is not president as the term is understood in Egypt, the U.S., or France – regimes in which the president is elected. The truth is that [in Iran,] the absolute ruler with the widest-ranging authority is the [supreme] guide, i.e. the supreme revolutionary leader, who is elected not by the people but by the Assembly of Experts…
"[Iran's] president is of barely any significance in this regime – he merely oversees the implementation of policies and functions as a high-ranking spokesman, or, if we want to be more charitable, as the head of the government – while according to the Article 57 of the constitution, all authority is in the hands of the supreme leader, who is termed 'the absolute ruler and the nation's imam.'"
Iran's Regime is Dictatorial and Tyrannical
Another article, titled "Religious State – Political Lie" includes an interview with several Egyptian intellectuals focusing on Iran, conducted by journalist Asmaa Nassar. In it, Al-Tagammu' party leader Dr. Rif'at Al-Sayyed stated: "The real problem is that [Iran] has only one source of authority, which is not the constitution, nor the law, nor yet the majority opinion. Rather, it is the 'rule of the jurisprudent,' [representing] the religious outlook of the religious state's founding fathers, which honors neither the constitution nor democracy."
In another of the articles, political Islam researcher Isma'il Hosni drawing a parallel between the regime of the Iranian ayatollahs and dictatorship, claiming that the common denominator in a theocracy's sources of authority and in a dictatorship is tyranny. He wrote: "Both [types of regime claim] to possess the absolute truth, and let not a single day pass without [exercising] tyranny or depriving others of the freedom to express their opinions…"
A number of the authors of the Roz-Al-Yousef articles contended that the Islamic Republic had never, since its inception, reflected the will of the people, relying instead on power, intimidation, coercion, and violence. Thus, Hosni claimed that when the Shah was deposed in 1979, Iran's clerics eliminated the liberal leftist elements that had participated in the coup: "They [i.e. the clerics] managed to [gain full control] of the situation because of the tyrannical and aggressive nature of their organization, which is governed by the principle of blind obedience; because of the rift and discord in the [national] movement; and by taking advantage of the chaos in the Iranian street. Capitalizing on the high and constantly increasing illiteracy among the populace, they successfully lured an enormous number of common people into rallying around flashy religious slogans, and took over the leadership of the national movement…"
In an article titled "The Black History of the Ayatollahs' Revolution," Dr. Sayyar Al-Jamil analyzed the methods by which the Iranian clerics established absolute rule and suppressed the opposition. He wrote: "When [the Shah was deposed] in mid-August 1979, dozens of Iranian papers and periodicals opposed to the idea of an Islamic government were closed down. [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini angrily denounced protests against their closure, saying, 'We thought that we were dealing with human beings, but apparently this is not the case…'
"In March 1980, the mayhem of the Cultural Revolution broke out, and Iranian universities –hitherto leftist and Marxist strongholds – were closed down…
"In July , the [newly established] theocracy fired 20,000 teachers and 8,000 officers, on the grounds that they were 'too Westernized'…
"Although the majority of the Iranians accept [the 'rule of the jurisprudent'], the intellectuals and [various] political groups in Iran categorically reject it – and all too soon discover that the fate of all who oppose this ideology is death…"
Al-Jamil concludes that the Iranian Revolution has not improved the situation of the Iranian people, who "after toppling a tyrannical dictatorship, found themselves instead saddled with a tyrannical theocracy."
The Beginning of the End of the Islamic Republic
Most of the authors and interviewees agreed that the recent events in Iran marked the beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic. But they differed in their predictions as to when this would happen, and also in their assessments of the contributing factors. Some contended that the overall decrease in the popularity of religious organizations that seek to establish a dictatorial regime would bring about the its collapse – as happened to the Taliban, to Hizbullah, and to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Dr. Jihad 'Awda, professor of political science at Helwan University, stated: "History has shown that theocracies cannot endure. At no historical period have nations been able to tolerate a political regime that is based on a monolithic religious view of man and behavior and on a single concept of what is or is not permissible…"
The editor of the Egyptian Culture Ministry weekly Al-Qahira, Salah 'Issa, contended that the protests that followed Iran's presidential election was staged by the younger generation "born after the revolution, whose consciousness has been shaped differently."
"He added: "[This generation] has other dreams, formed in a world that is more open. Forty-five million people in Iran use cellular phones and the Internet, and have broader opportunities to interact with the world. They think differently and dream about a different world – one based on racial and cultural pluralism. This is what they encountered in the human civilization to which they have been exposed.
"They have perceived an enormous contradiction between these ideas and the ideology of the theocratic state in which they live… Humanity will discard theocracy as it has discarded Nazism, Fascism, and other forms of dictatorship."
In his article, 'Issam 'Abd Al-'Aziz maintained that the recent events in Iran signified a national protest against Ahmadinejad's foreign and domestic policy, which has exacted a heavy price from the people, and expressed hope that Ahmadinejad's rival would solve the problems that beset Iran.
Others pointed out that it was Western intervention that had undermined the theocratic regime in Iran. 'Ain Shams University lecturer Dr. Muna Abusana stated: "The events in Iran would not have been possible without the help of the international community, and this is true for Lebanon as well. Hizbullah was on the verge of victory, but suddenly the tables were turned and it lost the elections.
"Recently, the international community has clearly realized that a theocracy poses a serious threat to modernization and civilization… A full-scale war is being waged against this concept – and that is why it is in retreat. We are facing an historic opportunity, which we must exploit in order to save our civilization…"
Dr. 'Sayyar Al-Jamil, however, took a different position. He advised the U.S. and Britain to refrain from interfering in the events in Iran, stating that any external threat to the regime would only generate greater support for it among the Iranian public.
Criticism of Iran's Allies in the Arab World
In their articles, the authors also criticized the Arab countries allied with Iran whose relations with Egypt are strained. Al-Roz Al-Yousef editor 'Abdallah Kamal criticized Arab elements that praised Iran in the Arab press, particularly Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'allem and Qatar's Emir. He said that Al-Mu'allem "acted as if he were Iran's foreign minister," and criticized the Emir for saying that "Iran has had four presidents in the [post] revolutionary period." Kamal wrote: "[The Emir's statement] may have been intentional, but but maybe he simply forgot that there have been six [Iranian presidents]: the first fled from the revolution, while the second was killed through its munificence…"