In a day or so we're going to publish a splendid piece by Mohammad of Vancouver disputing James Petras's argument that Obama is going to attack . Part of Mohammad's critique is a long meditation on the character of the Iranian . Mohammad lived in Iran most of his life, and served in its war, before moving to Canada, so he has solid basis for this analysis. We asked if we could publish that meditation on its own. Here it is:
Thirty years ago this week, the Iranian people chose an Islamic form of government precisely because they were worried about the consequences of rapid modernization and westernization under the corrupt rule of the Pahlavis. This was done with minimal human cost compared to other revolutions. Consider: The brutality of the Iranian Islamic republic has not come close to that of other noted republics in the years following a revolution (France, Russia and China being my references). The Islamic state phased itself in very slowly and learned how to run the state apparatuses without major disruptions. For instance, the Islamic dress code for women was brought in so slowly that the seculars lost a chance of making an issue out of it. Other Islamic provisions were also slow to kick in, and the basic penal code was never canceled but modified with numerous amendments. Iran still has many laws on the books that go back over 50 years.
Iran is not a passive and backward country. The Iranian people created a constitutional monarchy back in 1906 and if it weren’t for the interference of Britain, Iran could have provided a moderating center for the entire Muslim world by creating a perfect blend of European parliamentary tradition compatible with the tenets of Islamic law. Once the promises of this democratic revolution were betrayed by a pro-western corrupt monarchy, and once the nationalists were defeated by USA through the 1953 coup, slowly came to the consensus that only Islam as a political force could be able to liberate the country from the hands of local tyrants and their international supporters. This was mostly a practical decision rather than an ideological wish. Today, after 30 years of having an Islamic system, Iran can claim to have not only pushed the country forward, but forced a 500 year progress upon a frozen Shie mindset in a short time.
The civilizing nature of the Iranian culture has been able to transform the rough edges of Islam, particularly the Shie Islam, and made it compatible with the challenges to a complex state in the age of globalization and the internet. For those who don’t know, Iran is much more open and democratic than the comparable societies of not only Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, but also North Korea, Cuba or even (on particular levels, for instance, respect and equality for non Shie or non Muslim Iranians.)
The majority of Iranians--unlike my family and network of friends and acquaintances who are atheists and seculars--are Shie Muslims who feel not only comfortable and safe under an Islamic government but also free and democratic under the practiced Islamic law. Since they are not interested in questioning the tenets of the religion, they get to be free to at least discuss government policies and actions and have a say at the ballot box.
True, Iran is a very limited democracy, but one can argue that the Iranian system is as limited as the famous lonewe love to adore in the west: Israel. Like Israel, which is a democracy for the Jewish majority, Iran is a democracy for the Shie majority, which gets to have a lot of say in the matters of state. Yes, it’s true, seculars do not get represented in the parliament--in contrast to Arab Israelis, who do get representation-- but they also are not treated as second-class citizens in the society. They can buy land, move anywhere they want, and they tend to exercise a lot of financial and cultural discrimination against religious people in their own circles.
In Iran, you can have whatever opinions or lifestyle that you like, as long as you are careful about keeping them all within the confinement of your private life. This could include your 100 acre home property or your 1000 acre ranch, if you are rich enough to have your own kingdom.
Unlike the IDF forces, the Islamic soldiers would never occupy your home in the name of national security and urinate in your water tanks. If we consider non-Muslims as occupied people under Islamic Republic rule, even followers of the illegal faith of Ba’haism are treated much better than the Palestinians are treated in the .
Iran’s Jewish andin particular have a few rights that are not offered to average Iranians, i.e. traveling to Israel and making and consuming wine in their community centers. The Jewish community also acts as a liaison of the last resort between Iran and Israel. Many Iranian Jews have family members up in the hierarchies of the army, MOSSAD; and the Israeli government and the Iranian government and the intelligence network take advantage of these contacts to send and receive private messages from Israel.
Despite the nonstop Western propaganda, both from pro Israeli neoLiberals and the anti-Israeli left wing Marxists, Shie concepts have been proven not only durable, but essential in the Islamists’ conflict with both globalization and the military of USA and Israel.
The Islamic society of Iran has definitely restricted the freedoms of the minority seculars and atheists, but it has expanded the freedoms of the majority religious people. Those who did not allow their daughters to go past high school or get a job now feel safe to allow the women of their families to be socially outgoing. Those who never had a radio, let alone a television, in their homes back in the 1960's and 70's now can easily enjoy such technologies, knowing that the state is guaranteeing that the content of the media does not contravene their Islamic beliefs.
Islamic Republic has not made life easier only for Shie believers. As argued by many religious Jews in Iran, the general religious atmosphere that is guaranteed under the religious community is engaged in an ongoing battle with legal vices. That's why despite cash offerings and other incentives, thousands of Jews prefer to remain in Iran than to emigrate to the Jewish state.(no bars or night clubs, no porn industry or legal prostitution and the enforcement of modest dress code for both sexes) makes it easier to be a practicing Jew in Iran than in Israel, where the
P.S. Responding to a comment on the secular backlash in Iran: