Friday, March 18, 2011

Middle Eastern Uprising - Yes We Can!

“Our people are trying to break the bond set by God. That is human conceit rising against God. In this connection we must warn the Führer, that the adoration frequently bestowed on him is only due to God. Some years ago the Führer objected to having his picture placed on Protestant altars. Today his thoughts are used as a basis not only for political decisions but also for morality and law. He himself is surrounded with the dignity of a priest and even of an intermediary between God and man. We ask that liberty be given to our people to go their way in the future under the sign of the Cross of Christ, in order that our grandsons may not curse their elders on the ground that their elders left them a state on earth that closed to them the Kingdom of God.”

Martin Niemöller could have been an Iranian speaking today! He was a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor who lived through the Nazi years and only died five year after the inception of our version of Nazi-Islamic regime in Iran. He fought, lived and witnessed the deserving collapse of the Nazis; many were not so lucky, but their memory has lived on and shall never be allowed to be forgotten, for humanity’s sake.

Our case is hardly any different! The Nazis did not make it to a decade; our Islamic-Nazis however, have gone on for over three decades of their murderous reign. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian men, women and even children have perished at the hands of our version of God’s representatives on earth since 1st February 1979. Their memories too, shall never be forgotten.

The world is only too familiar with the fate of dictators; some acting like autocrats, others in their own tailor-made fascist methods. No matter how they rule, they all eventually fall to the wishes of their people. Of course in each scenario a slow and painful path has to be taken, but the end result is always - with no exception - the triumph of light over darkness. Why the despots don’t learn from history? That question deserves to be researched by sociologists and psychiatrists.

Today a new dawn, a new era, is prevailing over the shores of Middle East and North Africa. It feels like a new life, a new beginning, even though for us Iranians our path may be longer to reach the dawn. Nevertheless, the end of this long, dark and torturous night is near. Soon everyone will witness the rays of the rising sun in the East.
The recent out pours in the Middle East and North Africa for democracy are perhaps the result of what brave and undeniably courageous Iranians did in June 2009 - standing up against the most brutal regime, our region has ever seen. Finally this 32 year fermentation process seems near completion.

This awakening owes as much to technology, as to its technology savvy youth; who ask for nothing more than what they recognize as their most basic human rights: the right to live their life the way they choose but also to leave one behind for the future generations, better than what they inherited from their peers.

The new generation in Iran inspired by universal values: human rights, freedom of expression, secularism – and beyond all the out-dated isms - lives today in a ‘global village where frontiers are fading in a greater speed than one could expect from history. Recent surveys, reportage and statistics reveal that no place in the Middle East enjoys a larger and more vibrant population than Iran. Thus, it’s not surprising to see Persian reported to be the 3rd language on blogs on the Internet. But beside all facts and statistics, there is one major difference among the youth of this region to that of a generation ago. Unlike their parents who believed nothing can happen nor change is possible unless the great powers were involved or behind it, today’s generation understands that everything is possible, once they will it.

For so long the West banked on autocrats, despots and brutal regimes, not only in our part of the world, but throughout the developing countries to secure their interests, despite their continuous verbal diarrhea of rhetoric ranging from human rights to fight against international terrorism. Nevertheless, today I am optimistic. Perhaps I believe, they will now realiz that their lives too, and their ways of living, will not be safe if they do not support the same values for other nations that they safeguard for themselves.

My compatriots in Iran, especially the generation that has only heard or seen how its society used to be through the tales of their parents, or their photo albums, must remember that the future of Iran belongs to them and to their children. You have lived through the darkest period of our history and not only have survived but have flourished. In these last hours of this barbaric and inhumane regime, your unity and stamina is the only tool needed to destroy those whose intentions are to destroy everything that belongs to you and hence, to Iran. No power however, can stand against your will, and no bullet can kill the spirit that lives in you.

This regime with its ideology extracted from the abyss of man’s mind, is doomed to fall. You have already hit them hard, they have already lost the battle and feel dizzy, even if physically seem to still be standing or thriving. Victory is not far, and we as a nation no matter where we live have a responsibility and a duty.

No one claims that victory will easily be achieved. We will suffer – as we have, far more than other revolutions in the region. This Islamic Republic will shed far more blood than the world can imagine. They have everything to lose, hence, they will fight to the end. But so shall we. And when that day comes, it will seal for the last time so that such a clan can never exert any influence on Iranians lives ever again.

We are not weak and life is worth living. Sitting here writing these lines, I suddenly remembered the words of a man who made the world laugh! Charlie Chaplin in 1952 in one of his most famous movies Limelight to the question “what is there to fight for” replied: “Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish. ... The trouble is you won't fight. You've given up. But there's something just as inevitable as death. And that's life. Think of the power of the universe - turning the Earth, growing the trees. That's the same power within you - if you'll only have the courage and the will to use it. To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”

But we have not given up, we have begun this fight and shall honor the blood of all young friends of ours who have died for liberty. They believed in these words: better to die than to live on your knees.

The leaders of this republic know very well, no matter how many they kill, they cannot kill all Nedas! If these criminals are intelligent or if they have the slightest human dignity, they will not stand to the end. We know that they are neither intelligent nor are familiar with humanity. Therefore, we know that they will not give up. Nor shall we!

But for those who have not yet joined this struggle, I remind them of Martin Niemöller’s most famous lines:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Remember this!

This regime will fall, and we will establish whether in the form of a republic or a constitutional monarchy - which we will decide, a secular, democratic and a just government. A new system that will respect human rights and abides by all international laws. However, the culprits of this Islamic establishment should bear this in mind: those of you who have committed crimes, will not be forgiven! You will be brought to justice, no matter where you go on this planet, no matter how many decades it takes, we will trace you down and we will punish you!

Justice has always prevailed or as we say in our Persian literature: the moon will not always stay behind clouds. For justice to prevail however, we should believe in our power, in our intelligence and let our desire bring that better life that we so deserve.

Together, we can do it!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Crash 79

“ … Their conclusions were unanimous: That madman, the Shah of Iran, had inexplicably used cobalt as the contamination agent in the six nuclear bombs which had exploded in the Middle East. Cobalt has one of the longest half-lives of any substance known to man. The oil fields of Saudi Arabia, of Kuwait, of Iran, would remain totally inaccessible for at least twenty-five years. The Arabs were through as a world power – and as a threat to Israel. Of course, the Western industrial powers were through too. … For the world was now forced to live with a bank system that lay in ruins, with monetary chaos, and with the prospect of having to survive on half its former oil reserves. The lights, everywhere, gradually began to flicker and fade.

The Crash of ’79 was complete.”

Paul E. Erdman’s colossal #1 bestseller novel was published in 1976 while the recent fuel crisis was very fresh in Western memories. It was an exciting novel, translating complex world monetary and economical issues into simple language for every reader to understand. Using real life personalities, as well as current affairs of the time, it made its message convincing and even made the false portray depicted by the Western propaganda machinery of the Shah of Iran during the 1970’s, more plausible.

Nevertheless this calamitous prophecy written three decades ago has never been more pertinent than today.

The Middle East has been on news headlines for at least the past thirty odd years. Our region is the only part of the blue planet where almost every nation has economical interests. Thus, conflicts between international interests and regional ambitions have not always been compatible. Nevertheless, today more than ever before, this region is playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of our world. No matter which direction it takes –deeper into Islamic fanaticism or towards secularism and therefore, democratic values – its tremors will encompass a radius stretched from the South China Sea to the Atlantic shores. Naturally, such ‘devastation’ or ‘progresses’ will have a direct impact on the rest of the world for decades or generations to come.

Various American governments have attempted to tackle the ‘issues’ in the Middle East by enforcing prescriptions that so far have bear no results.

Under the banner of “Human Rights – For All” the US democrats in the late ‘70s won the office and embarked on this crusade. They wanted this fundamental principle brought to all nations that they believed did not enjoy the rights of man. In reality, however, Iran’s Imperial government seemed to be the only victim of their ‘benevolent’ campaign in the entire world.

The consequences of Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy, has since spread like a plague around the globe. The American intention to present the Iranian nation with human rights on a silver platter only gave freedom of speech to the likes of Ayatollah Khomeini and his gang. A freedom of speech granted to those which up until then our government had managed to harness and therefore, preventing the world from facing a more dangerous fanaticism than that of the Nazis.

Jimmy Carter’s international campaign only few years prior to the collapse of communism, incepted a new world threat, born out of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which has since grown to threaten many free nations. A dilemma that if not dealt with intelligently and soon, will become a domestic issue for most European countries with large Muslim populations.

Today the West is struggling to secure any sort of peace and stability in the Middle East. Those old enough, do remember the region back in the 70’s, when exactly such characteristics – with few exceptions and/or incidents - were applicable to the region. However, today the West is appearing even incapable of guaranteeing the security of their own citizens in their own cities.

The question many have begun asking is the sincerity of the West in facilitating the growth of democracy and human rights in the Middle East. After all, wars and post war reconstructions have always been a very lucrative business, offering employment in the Western world and increasing production in all walks of life. So if that proves to be right, then where better to push for such continuous ups and downs than the only region – the Middle East - that can actually afford all the West can offer, in good old hard cash!

Despite what we have witnessed since the advent of religious fanaticism: the international assassinations and terrorism; analysts, journalists and the so called experts and scholars, seem to be only scratching the surface. While the concerned politicians, activists and those who care are looking for reasons and solutions, no one seems to realise or is brave enough to draw a link between the new enemy and its ideological mother - the international religious fundamentalist terrorism – born out of the Islamic revolution in Iran.

It is worth mentioning here, that those the West campaigned to free from Iran’s Savak prisons in the late 70’s – in the name of human rights - eventually occupied positions in the newly established republic in Iran. The very individuals who orchestrate today’s international mayhem - where the entire Western civilization tries or perhaps pretends to eradicate - are the very ones that the 70’s Iran had easily muzzled. Their triumph in Iran, however, and the establishment of their Islamist-Nazi regime, financed by Iran’s petro-dollars, eventually guaranteed the 9 11s we have witnessed in the past 28 years around the globe.

Decades later the US republicans picked up a new banner: this time “Democracy - For All” as their new prescription for the people of that region. Whether this was based on the successes of their earlier attempts or if we believe optimistically, to correct their earlier humongous miscalculation; so far they have achieved nothing but pushing the region and the world into deeper and darker crises.

No one in the West or among the people of the Middle East has ever objected to the essence of Americans slogans i.e.; the US foreign policy. The objection among the people of our region has always been in implementation methods applied by the Americans.

The US seems to always believe their prescription should be shoved down every nation’s throat - without an accurate diagnosis - and it should cure. They have failed time and again but seem never to learn from their mistakes; nor do they ever take a lesson from history.
I cannot help to question - having failed to spread human rights in the Middle East back in 1979 – not to mention their ‘ally’ and ‘friend’ Saudi Arabia, who has never been in the spotlight of such a campaign - how successful or I’d like to use the word ‘honest’ could their intentions be in bringing about multi-party systems to our region?

In certain circles - back in the late 70’s - there was a belief that creating a ‘Green Belt’ – a chain of Islamic governments – would lessen the burden of responsibility for the US and, therefore, the prevention of Communist expansion could be dealt by regional players themselves. But there is also a more sinister opinion that believes the world’s economy is always in need of enemies, hence, the new bipolarity: Islam vs. Christianity is the way to replace that of the Cold War.

Carter’s fiasco of presidency not only did not bring human rights to any parts of the world; but as a replacement for what we had achieved he laid the foundation of what today the West is fighting in the streets of not only Middle Eastern cities, but in New York, Madrid and London. Carter presented the future generation a phenomena that if ignored would end up costing the Americans and the Europeans far more than imaginable.

Let’s have a flash back! Back in the heydays of the 1970s, the Imperial Iranian government’s foreign policy was formed on the basis that to guarantee peace and stability in the region, mutual dedication and collaboration of the key regional players is a must. Mr. Carter himself applauded His Imperial Majesty in his famous New Year speech at Niavaran Palace congratulated HIM for his achievements and hence called Iran an island of stability. This took place in an era where economical and social developments in the region and particularly for us Iranians, had broken historical records. It was to this end that the Pahlavi Iran played a pivotal role: Iran and Iraq had signed the Algiers Accord in March of 1975, ending border disputes and hostilities through delicate diplomacy. Iran assisted the Sultanate of Oman - at their request – by taking military actions in that country in order to avoid a communist takeover, which would have had undesirable consequences for the Western industry, as well as our region but especially for Iran’s striving projects. Iran’s Imperial government’s engagement with Egypt and Israel too, eventually resulted in the Camp David peace accord - promising a better future for them as well as for the Palestinians, despite the fact that today it is Jimmy Carter who has taken most of the credits.

However, I somehow find it ironic that those who dedicated their lives to secure what today the West claims to be aiming for, i.e.; peace and stability in the Middle East, were neither supported nor protected, but instead eliminated by the religious fanaticism that since 1979 has crept up the foundations of every religion and society. These men: the late Shah of Iran, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Robin of Israel fought successfully against dogma and as the result had brought peace and progress upon their nations.

In more recent year, the war against Saddam Hussein lead by America has brought further instability to a region that since the establishment of the Islamic Republic has been nothing but a cauldron of atrocities, destructions and catastrophes.

Americans marched into Iraq carrying their new banner: ‘Democracy’. I have written before that democracy - especially in countries where religion still plays a pivotal role, cannot be safeguarded if it is not coupled with secularism. Democracy’s survival depends on unity, sovereignty and stability, however, these novelties are in direct proportion to the existence of a strong secularist establishment supporting and reinforcing a true secularist identity of that nation - above races and/or religions which maybe building the mosaic of that country.

It is hard to understand why politicians and experts on the Middle East - who draft foreign policies, advise or implement their theories - never express or emphasise the need for secularism in the region. The result of such short sightedness– whether intentional or not - is what we witness today in Iraq. Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis are expected to create a unified, democratic and/or a federal Iraq without any attempts or mention in any statements, speeches or interviews given by those involved in promoting secularism. If the US or the West aims to achieve democracy in that country, wouldn’t it have been more attainable had the Iraqis been empowered so that they could develop democratic institutions by supporting and encouraging their society to move away from fanaticism and to bring in secular leaders?

Of course such an idea would have still not flourished, for as long as the roots of this ‘new world enemy’ i.e. the Islamic regime is in power next door.

We have Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews, black and white, various languages and races living in harmony in most Western democracies of the world; just like the Iranian society used to be before the Islamic revolution. However, such differences are not highlighted or given importance in European countries. Why then such intelligence is not applied when the West speaks of promoting their prescription of democracy to our region?

Reza Pahlavi, heir to the Iranian throne has been the only politician, activist or personality who has voiced his concern and belief that secularism is the key to establishing any form of democracy. Other than him, so far I do not recall anyone’s else even mentioning the slightest notion of such an ideology.

But perhaps it is not so bad to be the only one! What would be a shame, however, is not to take advantage of this individuality to further ones position to a platform, where those who seek alternatives for the current situation in the Middle East to galvanise and offer their assistance and come to support this new voice.

They say history repeats itself. I wish this to be the case for our region today. The world today lacks visionary leaders. We do need such leaders in the Middle East who are supported by free thinker, humanists and those who truly believe that the advancement of the human race and societies is only possible through science and technology. Such individuals should be supported by all free men and woman who can not only give rebirth but can also expand the true secularism that the likes of Ataturk laid its foundation for Turkey.

Reza Pahlavi, whom I’d prefer to address as Reza Shah II has this ability to stand out, make one last move in this dangerous world chess of dogma vs. reason, to either win and take over or to lose and retire.

No one from the US government or that of various European cabinets is willing or even capable of delivering the true and lasting prescription for establishment of a true secular, democratic and in some cases federal systems in the Middle East. But there are influential individuals and bodies among American and European societies that are keen and capable of supporting and advancing such doctrines.

What Iran needs today is a fresh start. We need someone who can make the world stop and to listen. To present world leaders and of course industrialists a long lasting solution for peace and security in the Middle East where everyone is kept content! Such ideological implementation would help other already in practice institutions in countries like Turkey, Israel and India to help those pockets of similar voices throughout the Islamic world to rise above dogma and to bring an era of enlightenment to our region based on mutual understanding and respect.

Yes, it is possible for you Your Majesty to take advantage of our dire situation today and be a new Reza Shah the Great or even a new Ataturk. The world surely has changed since their days, but human desire for betterment is strong today as it was in Iran and Turkey of the 1920.

Today is the time to act; to change tactics and approach. Tomorrow there could be no Iran, so what do we have to lose?

The decision is solely yours, Your Majesty. The past track records prove that one final push needs to be done, in the right direction. The question remains, however, whether you would like or can be an Ataturk or not!

Monday, May 09, 2005

The late Dr. Farrokhrou Parsa, the education minister executed by the Islamic Republic on May 8th, 1980 Posted by Hello

In memory of Dr. Farrokhrou Parsa

A Quarter of a century ago, on May 8th 1980, the Islamic Republic executed an Iranian woman whose only crime was educating her compatriots and setting an example for so many who gained their rightful place in our society. She was to face the firing squad for having provided the opportunity so that Iranians could study, train and therefore, render their expertise for the betterment of our people’s lives and society.

None of the above however, were stated on Dr. Farrokhrou Parsa’s sentence nor appeared on her death certificate. She was condemned to death like thousand of others on the charges of “spreading vice on earth and fighting God.”

The two phrases that brought a sudden end to the life of so many in summary executions, was a sentence loosely defined by representatives of Allah on earth who had chosen Iran as their platform to spread their revolution and their God’s justice.

When Farrokhrou was born, Iran was a weak country with its nation ravaged by poverty and disease. Her mother, Fakhr Afagh was among the first Iranian women who believed in equal educational opportunity for boys as well as girls. When she published two articles on the subject in a magazine she ran, Jahan-e Zanan or Women’s World, the mullahs of the time had raised their objections.

Under the clergy’s pressure on Qavam-ol Saltaneh’s government, her husband finally was forced to relocate his pregnant wife to a rented accommodation outside the religious city of Qom. It was there, under house arrest, that Farrokhrou was born minutes after Nowrouz New Year in 1922.

She was sent to school and encouraged by her parents to become an educated woman. As the situation in the country had changed for better under Reza Shah the Great, Farrokhrou had the chance to enjoy equal rights, at least as far as education was concerned. With her parents’ eagerness to educate their children she continued her studies ever after she was married and bore children.

Years later, when Madam Parsa was a biology teacher at Tehran Jean D’Arc high school Farah Diba, who later became the Empress of Iran, happened to be one of her students. Her dedication to her job as well as women rights promoted her to the school’s principle position when she used after school hours to visit and teach criminal women in prisons.

In a letter in the early 60’s to the Shah, requesting His Imperial Majesty to consider the right for women to vote, the late Shah had replied to her: “I will seek my nation’s vote on the matter, my people are not only consisted of men”

Dr. Parsa became a member of the Iranian parliament – Majlis, in 1963, when she pushed for legislation amending women and family laws. Two years later she became the first woman to fill the position of deputy minister for education. Finally on 27th August 1968 she became the first Iranian woman minister.

The fundamentalist clergies’ dislike of Parsa did not finish with her mother’s house arrest, but in the years that followed brought her at times face to face in conflict with the same black reactionaries who opposed her efforts in modernization and improvement in schools’ text books.

Twenty-five years on, Dr. Parsa’s murderers are still grazing carelessly in the country, while the world believes appeasement could be a new taming method. As much as it is perplexing to witness European countries’ policies of “let’s try to understand these people” or “let’s establish a dialogue” approach with the dictators, it is horrifying to see these countries taking similar attitudes as to those who in the 40’s searched for moderates within the Nazi establishment, while thousands were sent to their early graves.

Dr. Parsa’s execution in the height of the Islamic revolution while they were basking in their glory was only the beginning of a systematic killing that since has been the official procedure by the religious rulers of Iran to silence any opposition. On the face of such atrocities - only comparable to genocides in Turkey, Germany and Rwanda, the free, democratic and so to speak, civilized world has chosen to remain indifferent.

Their behavior was well described in an article by Reza Bayegan on July 11th, 2003 that appeared in Front Page Magazine under the title: Iran-A Nation Under Siege. In his article Mr. Bayegan had reminded Europeans of their policies during the Second World War: “When the Jews were being slaughtered in Germany, many objected to getting involved in Germany’s ‘family fight’. Nazis were no kin to the Jews, and the Iranian people are no kin to the club-waving vigilantes beating them to maintain an Islamic dictatorship’s illegitimate power.” He had warned world leaders by stating: “The question is, how long will it take for the world to realize that there is no family resemblance? And at what price its hesitation?”

Two years ago when Bayegan’s article appeared in the press, Ziba Kazemi another Iranian woman was arrested for having taken photographs outside a Tehran prison from family members waiting to visit their loved ones. After days of torture, physical abuse and enduring unimaginable pain she was beaten to death. Despite her son’s relentless efforts to seek justice and to bring his mother’s body back for burial in Canada, the Canadian government has so far only assisted to a limited extend. One should be reminded that Canada too is high on the list of Western democracies enjoying lucrative trades with Al-Qaeda supporters and sponsors of international terrorism who suppress the Iranian people.

Dr. Parsa, the first woman executed by the Islamic regime by no means would be the last one. Ziba Kazemi murdered by the reformist government of President. Khatami - the man Europeans so much love to negotiate and appease, was yet another reminder to the world that if the situation in Iran is not dealt with soon enough, many more would loose their lives in ayatollah’s Islamic dungeons. But again it seems all this falls on deaf ears!

Twenty-five years after Dr. Parsa’s execution, thousands of Iranian women and girls are still being executed, tortured, raped, stoned, lashed, hung from cranes in Iranian cities and even sold to Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf. Even at this point instead of assisting Iranians to eradicate the mullahs, the best strategy the British, French and German governments have recently come up with is their new idea of offering economic incentives to the Islamic regime in the hope that they may put an end to their uranium enrichment program. This is again a proof that such countries’ support for human rights and democracy are simply a mockery of such noble concepts when it comes to countries where trade takes priority over human lives.

Up until 1979, Iranians compared their country to the most advanced nations in the world. During which our people’s expectations from our government were to provide them with the best the world could offer. Nothing less seemed to be satisfying Iranians’ appetite for progress and reaching the Great Civilization they were promised. This happened at a time when our public figures were the educated elite of men and women known and respected internationally.

We all remember those days when our people like spoiled children complained about absolutely everything. But the question I seem to be failing to find an answer for, is that, how could it be possible for the same demanding people to allow themselves to be reduced to the current sub-human levels? How could a nation whose leaders were educated and intelligent personalities allow to be ruled by an ignorant bunch totally irrelevant to modern times?

The Islamic authorities have always feared our women. Twenty-six years on, their dictatorial power has yet to succeed submitting the Iranian women to their barbaric ways. They are well aware that the might of our women once united can destroy the foundation of their evil mullahcracy.

The agony our late Iranian-Canadian journalist, Ziba Kazemi had to go through and her eventual death resulting from all sorts of torture will always remain as a proof to their fear of women who were born, brought up and educated during the Pahlavi years. Women who had learnt to have a free spirit and taught to be strong and independent. The ayatollahs’ fear doesn’t stop with women rejecting their authorities today, it extends to even those brave women who had died years prior to the revolution. But it is their legacy that is worrying their theocratic system, so much that soon after the revolution they ordered the destruction of Sediqeh Dowlatabadi’s tomb who had passed away in 1962. The Islamic Republic leaders do not understand that destruction of tombs; books and killings cannot vanquish our women’s free spirit and will to live freely. Values encouraged and rekindled by the likes of Dr. Farrokhrou Parsa.

Although Sediqeh Dowlatabadi’s grave does not exist anymore, but her last will in which she stated: “I shall not forgive any woman who visits my grave veiled,” is not only a torch to lead our female compatriots to freedom but also is a concept more powerful than any weapon or any religious fanatic.

Today all over the world, Iranian women of Dr. Parsa’s generation and those who were educated by her and her colleagues hold respectable positions in renowned organizations and universities. With the exception of few who have never given up fighting for their rights, those who are living in free and democratic environments seem to have chosen to remain silent in the face of on-going barbarities in our country.
The regime’s enmity towards our women is in the ethos of the Islamic Republic, and it is for the very reason that I recommend the 25th anniversary of Dr. Parsa’s execution, a fitting date to remind and to invite all women of conscience, from within and without Iran, Iranian or not, to unite against the Islamic Republic.

I would like to encourage personalities such as Mahnaz Afkhami, Dr. Simin Redjali, Goli Ameri and many others to form a united front together with the likes of Shirin Ebadi - if she is willing to break free from reformists who are using her good name and intentions, and to mark May 8th in our late teacher and minister’s memory to form an Iranian Women United Front demanding world leaders and the international community to support a true referendum for the abolishment of the government of the mullahs in order to introduce democracy, secularism & justice in Iran.

This conspiracy of silence must be broken. It is in our silence and apathy that we remain weak and beaten. How can we forget and forgive those who never stop killing?

In her last message that Dr. Parsa managed to send out of her prison cell she addressed her children. “I am a doctor so I have no fear of death. Death is only a moment and no more. I am prepared to receive death with open arms than to live longer in shame by being forced to be veiled. I am not going to bow to those who expect me to express regret for fifty years of my efforts for women and men’s equality. I am not prepared to wear the chador and step back in history.”

“True reconciliation does not consist in merely forgetting the past.” Nelson Mandela in his speech. January 7th, 1996.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Atatürk - Founder of Modern Turkey Posted by Hello

Atatürk and Reza Shah the Great Posted by Hello


29th October marked the 81st anniversary of the Turkish Republic. A secular country that has succeeded to survive, progress and to remain loyal to the principles introduced by its founder Mustafa Kemal Pasha, otherwise known as Atatürk – the Father of Turks. A framework in which under no domestic or international pressure the Turkish authorities have compromised on.

The Turks today are celebrating and deserve to be congratulated for their untiring efforts and their love for their country. At the same time my ancient land has sunken in the darkest period of its history since the Arab invasion of Iran in 640 A.D.

Secularism, the key to Turkey’s survival and prosperity has been used and mentioned over and over by those Iranian activists outside and inside Iran particularly more than ever before in the recent years. After the death of the man who introduced its concept to us - Reza Shah the Great, it was never paid much attention until his grandson reintroduced it to our daily vocabulary.

However, what I find disheartening is yet again the usage of a word without many political leaders or activists defining its concept – not summarily but in details, in a context to revolutionize our society. A society whose majority are Shi’a with strong religious beliefs and in some cases even still are awaiting for the reappearance of a hidden Imam at the dawn of the 21st century. Who had apparently descended down a well - some thousand years ago, and they believe that he will be reincarnated again and bring their world prosperity and purity.

Today more than ever before Iran is badly in need of a school of thought like that of Turkey’s Kemalists which could guarantee its future democracy, secularism and nationalism; if we ever achieve such noble goals! Iran needs a doctrine so that our true secularists could stand by it, otherwise, the general expression that ‘people themselves will be the guarantee of our future democracy’, is simply naivety.

What Iran of post-Islamic terror needs are visionary, truly secular men and women with modern thoughts to mould a new foundation for a modern nation to lead a proud life among the progressive nations of this world. Iran does not need people who are typical oriental romantics. Pragmatic, realists, radicals and forward-looking leaders are what we need to bring our country to the modern age.

Atatürk’s principles backed by the Turkish secular elite and an army that never declares neutrality at times of domestic crisis can be the role model for those Islamic societies, which have finally reached the maturity and realized that the only path to prosperity is to break free from dogma, ignorance and superstitions.

Atatürk’s modern look at life made him to believe that humans are products of nature, enjoying the intelligence to survive, thus, preserving himself from oriental fatalism. He also never believed in luck. He said; “Luck is only the approach of events which we have not been able to calculate beforehand.”

One of the features that distinguishes the Kemalist movement from other modernising movements in the Islamic world is the extend to which secularism – that biggest enemy of fanatic Moslems, was emphasized in republican Turkey.
Unlike our former constitution where religious leaders had to be present to make sure legislations passing through the Majlis were under no circumstances contrary to the Islamic teachings, thus, immediately eradicating the concept of secularism, the Turkish constitution does not allow any form of appeasements when it comes in dealing with religious issues. The articles 19 & 57; Penal Code Art. 163 of the Turkish Constitution forbid political, social, economic or legal order based even partly on religious principles.

Though such strong secular laws may seem excessive to some of Atatürk’s critics, its radical nature never intended to eradicate Islam in Turkey. What Atatürk aimed for was privatisation of religion in order to make it an individual’s rather than the organizing principle of the society. Therefore, he respected freedom of religion at the individual level while strictly forbidding organized political manifestation of Islam in any shape or form or under any name or structure.

Atatürk’s followers - the Kemalists, managed to create a school of thought based on principles of republicanism, nationalism, populism and secularism. These key elements have since remained the backbone of the Turkish state; without which Turkey would have stood no chance today, to be even considered for joining the European Union of nations.

Mustafa Kemal’s ambition to bring the Turkish society into a modern world was to carry out his reforms into every aspects of the Turkish life. He believed that to seek anything other than science in life was to be ignorant. ‘The aims of the reforms we have already carried out and are continuing to carry out,’ he said, ‘is to bring Turkish society into a modern society in every aspect. This is the basis of our reforms.’ He continued; ‘Up until now, the nation has been dominated by concepts which are disabling to the functioning of the mind.’

The main portal of Ankara University proclaims, ‘In life, the truest guide is science.’

Once again it is shattering to witness that some of my compatriots believed or may still do, that mullahs who take away the functioning of their mind and believe in running everyday life according to laws written fourteen hundred years ago for the barbarians of the Arabian desert, can bring our nation’s appalling condition any positive reform or prosperity.

It is demoralizing to see, Iranians gathering around backward and corrupt religious figures looking for guidance or having the slightest hope for these types of creatures to improve their status or that of our country. Believing in factions only created by the Islamic Republic itself to further use the gullibility of my people, Iranians have wasted several good years in the hope that the so called reformists can solve Iran’s countless problems by a milder interpretation of Koranic laws.

In the age of science and reason when religion – very rightly, becomes a private matter or even the thing of the past, Iranians instead of rising themselves and take their future in their own hands, are either looking for saviours this time appearing with Zoroaster’s fire walking down an aircraft bringing an Achaemenian way of thinking or are praying for the re-election of the American president who would love them and feel sorry for them and will come to their rescue from their dire condition.
Turkey, a country that even today may not be taken seriously by many Iranians who rather stick to the stereotype mentality which considered the ‘Turks’ as inferior; has a lot to learn from. One important and vital lesson Iranians can learn from the Turks is their concept of patriotism.

Turkey salvaged from the miseries left by the Ottomans would have not survived to this day had they not adhered to Atatürk’s modern vision of a progressive and prosperous country, particularly in the past two and half decades of political and ideological turmoil created by Islamic fundamentalism born out of the Islamic revolution of Iran.

Atatürk believed in the transformation of thought into an ideal and its high moral personality. During the Balkan wars of 1912, when Izzet Pasha announced that some men of religion were to be sent to the front line to boost the morale of the soldiers, Atatürk responded that morale was being given by the regimental officers. ‘To send a delegation of such people will show that the war-power of our army is near to collapse, and will result in speculation about the poor state of our government. Therefore, this attempt should be stopped.’

In order to teach secularism to the Turks without using the word, Atatürk tired to establish a fundamental link between parliament and religion: ‘The government of the Turkish National Assembly is national and it is materialistic; it worships reality. It is not a government willing to commit murder or drag the nation into the swamps in search of useless ideologies.’ to further emphasize his belief in science he said; ‘the true enlightenment in life is science. We obtain inspirations not from the skies, but directly from life.’

Mustafa Kemal was from an uneducated family who had not been able to equip him with an academic background. His father died when he was seven, and his mother wanted him to receive religious education and become a Muslim preacher. The young Kemal chose, by his own will and decision a military education for himself, and pursued his own education apart from the classical education supplied by military schools. He learned French and German by his own efforts, and read the historical and literary works of the very few Turkish authors active at that time while he was in military school.

Turkey of the post First World War and post Ottoman era was a country ravaged by years of wars, which needed a new national identity. What remained from the vast Ottoman Empire was the heart of the Turkish land with new boundaries.

Unlike the Ottoman period where nationality and therefore nations where subject to their religion, similar to post-revolution Iran and the introduction of the concept of ‘ommat’ – Moslem population, Atatürk stated that ‘Turkish nationality is for people who speak Turkish, for those who are brought up with Turkish culture, share Turkish ideals and who live on Turkish soil; these people’ he said, ‘are Turks, regardless of their race or religion.’

Although today’s Turkey may not adhere in its entirety Atatürk’s ideals in political terms, but it is thanks to the EU’s requirements and pressure that is pushing Turkey again towards such attributes as freedom of conscience and crucial rights of the individual.

On the same subject Mustafa Kemal Atatürk iterated that; ‘Each person has liberty to think and believe freely, to posses a political view of his own fulfilment, and to act in any way to suit himself as far as the regulations of any religion are concerned.’ However, he emphasized that no individual’s conscience could be guided by another.

He believed that all the torments Turkey has passed through were due to religious traditions standing in the way of social liberties. A fact that nearly a century later seems not yet fully clear to many Iranians who still believe that religious personalities can deliver miracles in the shame of reforms to suit the modern age and era.

Namik Kemal, the famous Turkish poet and dramatist (1840-1888) who lived under the Ottoman caliphs in conditions similar to that of ours in the Islamic Republic has a famous sentence expressing the effects of religious involvement in a country’s daily life. He said, “Death passes over us in a minute, but traditions are eternal. They aim at the way one sits, walks, reads, cuts one’s beard …The traditions have reached such a point that a man cannot be in command of his own beard, let alone of his family.”

Atatürk was not alone in his attempt in modernizing Turkey. During the renovation of Bursa the capital of Bursa province in Western Turkey, Ahmad Vefik Pasha an outstanding statesman and the governor of the province found that to implement his plans he had to demolish the tomb of a saint known as the ‘Walking Saint’. Vefik Pasha went to the tomb, called three times ‘O Saint, walk away!’ and then had the sanctuary demolished, remarking ‘He must have walked away by now.’

In 1928 the constitution, which still mentioned Islam as the religion of the state, was abrogated and in the same year the Latin script was adopted for Turkish language. Some thing that though attempted by the likes of Abdol Hossein Meftah but unfortunately never materialized in our country, hence leaving our language in the service of our deficient alphabet instead of the reverse to be the case.

In 1931 statutes of the Party stated that it stood for the principle of ‘laicism’, defined as a condition in which the state took no role in religious life since religion was ‘a matter of conscience’. The text states: ‘The Party has accepted the principle that all laws, regulations and procedures used in the administration of the state should be prepared and implemented in order to meet the needs of this world and in accordance with the foundation of and the forms provided by science and technology in modern times.’

Andrew Mango it his outstanding book, ‘Atatürk-the biography of the founder of modern Turkey’ states, ‘Atatürk’s message is that East and West can meet on the ground of universal secular and mutual respect, that nationalism is compatible with peace, that human reason is the only true guide in life. It is an optimistic message and it vitality will always be in doubt. But it is an ideal that commands respect.’

Monday, August 30, 2004

An Islamic Europe

“Bernard Lewis, the world-famous historian and expert on Islam, predicted that Europe will become Islamic by the end of the century as a result of emigration patterns and birth rates.” Al-Sharq, Qatar, 8/20/04

Such a remark made by a distinguished historian and expert on Islamic countries like Bernard Lewis is extremely worrying. However, if we look closely into the social problems regarding mass emigration of Moslem's to European countries, one can understand that most of these immigrants are economic refugees.

Of course, such a transition from a Christian continent to an Islamic one in the near future is not a hypothesis. The Netherlands, one of the smaller European countries but with one of the largest Islamic communities in Europe has been predicted to have - in less than 30 years, a majority Muslim population. One can fear the day when by majority votes the Dutch queen is forced to wear the Islamic hejab in her public appearances!!

Spain, a much larger European country but with a negative birth rate among its indigenous people will also have a majority Muslim population in the future.

Such trend will follow in other European states with large Islamic communities, such as France, Germany and Switzerland.

But it seems to me that people are unfortunately very shortsighted as well as forgetful. All problems, issues and international threats regarding Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism etc. commenced with the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran in 1979.

The West should allow as well as aid the Islamic countries to progress and prosper through secular and democratically elected governments. Even though such developments may result in a more expensive economical life for Europeans and Americans due to eventual industrialization of these countries; but its long-term advantages are that desperate citizens of these countries will not head westward in search of a better life for themselves and their family.

Democracy and secularism in third world as well as Middle Eastern countries will result in prosperity of these countries, if the Western world – and in particular the giant oil cartels, allow it to happen!

Such developments will reabsorb many immigrants back to their homeland and therefore, create a more balanced world where a Middle Eastern or a third world countries' citizen's standards of life will not be so far behind from those in the Western societies.

But unfortunately all the West seems to be aiming for are:
The constant flow of cheap oil for the Western industry
The prevention of the M.E. countries from becoming industrialized

The West needs the cheap oil and if the Middle Eastern countries - like Iran of the 70s become industrialized nations, who also have the advantage of immense oil and gas reserves; they will easily take over the world consumer markets.

Can you imagine if Iran as it was predicted in the late 70s had become the "Japan of Western Asia" by mid-80s? Naturally the West made sure that such path would be closed and avoided with the advent of the Islamic Republic in Iran.

The West needs to rethink its values and long-term prospects before it's too late.

A TRULY secular and democratic government in Iran can change the pattern on an international scale. With no further support to any foreign or internal terrorist organizations or Islamic fundamentalist groups, supporting a peaceful negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians and corporation with regional governments, once again Iran can play a constructive role on the international political scenes.

A democratic Iran, whether under a republican system or a constitutional monarchy can guarantee peace, development and hence, prosperity in the region. But are these the attributes that the West would like to associate with the Middle East?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

HIM Shahanshah Aryamehr Posted by Hello

The Late Shah of Iran's Vision

“Every nation deserves the government it has.” Ayatollah Khomeini.

A recent trip to the United Kingdom provided me the opportunity to pay a visit to the British National Archive in Kew. Reading pages and pages and taking notes on various topics of interest made me decide to use some of the collected information and write the following piece.

One of the most under-studied and under-researched international personalities of the twentieth century has to be the late Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The Islamic revolution of 1979, its causes, roots, pros & cons as well as its outcomes have been covered in numerous books and articles. The event has been discussed and to some extent analysed in various seminars, conferences, speeches and lectures regarding its historical, sociological or political contexts throughout the world for the past twenty-five years. Despite all this, very little has been given to study, explore and to understand the very man who for thirty-seven years led his nation in peace and harmony with the international community towards a steady and at times a rapid social and economical progress which guaranteed tranquillity “in one of the most troubled regions of this world”[i]. With the exception of a few books, the world scholars, journalists as well as its academic institutions have conveniently forgotten for various political reasons - usually driven by economical motives of their respected governments, the very person who was responsible for peace in the Middle East.

The modern world sometimes moves forward with such velocity that in order to find the remedies to a range of today’s world issues, it should pause and search the solutions in the not so distant past.

I am not a scholar, nor have any claim to be a historian or a politician. I am simply a curious Iranian to whom the world’s deafening silence seems perplexing. Looking back at the events of the past quarter of a century, I would like to make an attempt and review certain aspects of my country’s last monarch’s ambitions and his global forethoughts. Aspirations that though may have appeared - as some Europeans claimed at the time as “Folly de Grandeur”, but the passing of years have given their seal of approval to his hopes and fears.

Some may immediately ask me whether I would cover reasons for his failure too. My answer to them is; “No!” There have been so much unfinished debates and discussions worldwide on his fall that have only resulted in confusing the public. I believe it is time for the world to wake up and learn from his vision, achievements and his dreams; not only for Iran but for a world that had he survived, more than a million innocent men and women would have not perished from Kabul to New York.

My intention here is to remind the readers - Iranian or non-, of who he was and whom the world lost. I particularly would like to address the Americans who have been under attack since the advent of the Islamic Republic in Iran more than any other Western nation on this planet.

What did Mohammad Reza Pahlavi dream for Iran, the Middle East and the World? Let’s review his most feasible plans that by now could have made our country part of what would have become the G9 group.
Michael Heseltine a junior minister in the department of aerospace and industry at the time who later became Margaret Thatcher’s deputy Prime Minister (1995-1997) visited the Shah in May 1972. In his recent autobiography, “Life In The Jungle” published in 2000 he wrote; “The two big opportunities of my trip were thought to be Tehran and Singapore. It was understood that the Shah of Iran had a vision of Tehran as a staging post between West and East. He saw Concorde as an important part of the process, if Tehran was seen as a major stopover on its journey both ways. Our strategy was to fly him in the aircraft and hopefully get him to confirm his options to buy. We also needed his agreement to overflying rights. Much of Iran is open desert where the footprint of the sound barrier would have little or no impact.”

The former British Deputy PM carries on; “I was to meet the Shah in the Imperial Pavilion at Tehran airport for a brief introduction to the project, aided by various demonstrator boards, before he joined me for a flight. One of the demonstrator boards set up to be shown to the Shah consisted of a huge map of the world on which capital cities, principle airports and major flying routes were indicated in large, unmissable topography. About ten minutes before the Shah was due someone helpfully pointed out that there was no reference to Tehran on the map. The offending demonstrator board was removed from sight. Crisis averted. The Shah duly arrived. After a quick briefing we set off along the red carpet across the tarmac to the aircraft itself. During the flight it would be up to me to secure our sales and overflying objectives.

The take-off was uneventful and we sped heavenwards to the 58,000 feet at which the aircraft is most efficient. However, I had no sooner concluded the initial pleasantries than the Shah, an experienced pilot himself, asked if he could join the test pilot, Brian Trubshaw, in the cockpit. In a second he was gone. I was in despair. There was no other time during our stopover when I could conduct a sales pitch or secure agreements before we were due to leave Tehran. But the Shah did not return until we came in to land.

Down the steps we went, heading for the Imperial Pavilion. There were about 200 yards of red carpet between us and the waiting press corps. I had 200 yards in which to obtain – or not – the objective clearly set for me. I decided to go for it. ‘Your Majesty, I hope you enjoyed the flight. I would like to ask you if you would consider purchasing the aircraft?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘I would like two.’ So far, so good. ‘Your Majesty, we would be grateful for overflying rights across Iran on our journey to and from the Far East.’ ‘That would be quite acceptable,’ he said.

But the problem was that no one else had heard our conversation. My officials were some way behind me. I had been alone with the occupant of the Peacock Throne. By now we had reached the assembled press corps. The first journalists in the queue were Iranians. The level of questioning focused on such trivia as whether His Majesty had enjoyed the flight, the comfort of the plane and so on. Then a loud voice from somewhere to the rear of the crowd of journalists called out, ‘The Times, London, Your Majesty. Are you going to buy the aircraft?’ ‘Yes,’ said the Shah. ‘Two.’ Another British voice: ‘The BBC, London, Your Majesty. Will you give us overflying rights?’ ‘Yes, I will.’”

The Shah must obviously have studied and consulted the proposal with his advisors and experts in the field prior to his meeting with the British minister. Considering the immense revenue generated from overlying rights to Concorde together with our national carrier as the only airline flying Concorde aircrafts - after British Airways and Air France, and the only airline in the world to offer supersonic travels between the European business centres to those of Australia and the Far East, Iran Air Concorde would have dominated most international business flights between the West and the Orient.

Bearing in mind Heseltine’s autobiography was published many years after the collapse of our Imperial government, he writes; “In October 1972 Iran Air signed a preliminary agreement to purchase two Concordes for delivery in late 1976 or early 1977 with an option on a third. Six and a half years later the Shah was deposed and for at least two years before that he came under increasing anti-modernisation political pressure.”

Concorde never again succeeded in attracting a foreign investors in which its high costs of maintenance was a continuous issue until the crash in Paris on July25, 2000 brought its thirty year life to an end.

Our economical progress coupled with social changes proved to be too rapid for us Iranians to comprehend and appreciate. As Iran progressed industrially through the 70s like every other nation in the world the sudden change of pace brought with it various but expected deficiencies and shortages; nothing that time and hard work could have not over come. In other words, they were teething problems of any rapidly advancing nation. However, higher standard of living resulted in higher expectations among Iranians. The consequence was a society with raised expectations but no patience for their government to materialize their demands.

By this time Europeans were getting itchy on Iran’s arm spending and its armament budget – 26% of the total annual budget. Accusations were thrown and suspicions rose by the Western media. A Number of these countries were the very ones that Iran’s arms deals kept many of their citizens employed and therefore, helped their economy.

A reporter from the German magazine, Der Spiegel who interviewed the late Majesty on January 1974 questioned HIM regarding Iran’s arms spending. “Why are you spending so much money on armaments? Where is the enemy?”

The Shah replied; “Well, this is the same question as why Germany or France are spending so much money on armaments?”

Der Spiegel: Because they have some neighbours in the East whose intentions were not always quite clear.

The Shah: Are they going to attack you?

Der Spiegel: We hope not.

The Shah: So why are you spending the money? I am spending the money for exactly the same reason. I take no chances whatsoever. I have friends, I try to even have more friends, but we cannot only depend on our alliances. Sometimes we could be let down. Another thing: do you all agree that the October war with Israel was a surprise? Consider the amount of weapons and the sophisticated weapons that were used against Israel – did you or did even the Israelis expect anything like this? Everyone was surprised. So I take absolutely no chances. I must not depend on anyone but ourselves.

When Der Spiegel asked the Shah whether Iran can keep up with such growth – 20% annually, and reminded His Imperial Majesty that it took the Western countries generations to reach the present level and whether he thinks he can overlap this? The Shah responded, “Yes, our people are hard working and they have a craze for learning. We have all the incentives. We have our own traditions; we have a very old history – 3000 years. Why should we copy others?

Der Spiegel: And Western technology?

To this the Shah replied; “You have spent millions of dollars in research – after many years of hard work you have discovered things. Why shouldn’t we take it? But we take all these things and we keep what is good. And we can develop ideas also. All these isms – capitalism, socialism, communism, or anything else – are so old now that they do not correspond to the ideals of the human being. It doesn’t correspond to the breakthrough in technology, it doesn’t correspond to our times.”

By now our economy had become strong enough to reverse our trade patterns with that of Western Europe. The Times on January 26, 1974 reported; “Total Iranian exports to Britain last year were valued at about £124m while British exports and re-exports to Iran came to approximately £116m.”

We had reached a position of strength from a borrower - years earlier, to a major world lender, including to those among the elite of nations. Mr. Healy, Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech addressing the British parliament on July 22, 1974 thanked the Imperial Iranian government for providing Britain with a line of credit of $1,200m.

“I have not had to draw on the $2,500m loan, which was negotiated at the time of the Budget. And I am now able to tell the House of another welcome source of funds for public sectors borrowers.”

He continued, “The Imperial Iranian Government has offered to provide the United Kingdom with a line of credit of $1,200m, to be drawn on in the form of three separate loans by public sector bodies within three years from now.

We have reached agreement on this offer, and I hope that arrangements for the first loan will be made in the very near future. I know that the willingness of the Iranian Government to enter into an arrangement of this kind reflects the concern of His Imperial Majesty the Shah of Iran over the difficulties facing the world economy and his constructive attitudes to the problems at present facing the international monetary system, and I believe that the House will join me in welcoming this development.”

Iran’s loan to Britain helped the British government to reduce their VAT rate from 10% at the time to 8% - with immediate effect. On the following day The Times carried the following headline; “Chancellor cuts VAT, aid ratepayers, eases dividend limits and accepts Iran loan.”

In the same year, the Shah spoke of creating a new grouping of Indian Ocean countries on the basis of economic, political and eventually naval cooperation, to “secure our shipping lanes” and keep “non-regional powers” out.

When Iran’s GNP (Gross National Product) rose by 40% towards the end of 1974 and when we bought over 25% of steel-making subsidiary of the Krupp group from its German owners - an agreement which could set the pattern for investment of Middle Eastern countries in Western Europe, the European Union was still considered at its infancy. The Shah, aware of the economical centers of power in the United States and the then European Economic Community, had come to conclude a plan of his own. A project that could help to counter balance the Western economical might with that of the fast Asian developing countries, - the Indian Ocean Economic Union or Common Market.

Michael Hornsby a journalist from the Times newspaper reported from Delhi on October 3, 1974 on the Shah’s next regional vision. “The Shah envisaged the membership of his proposed organization being restricted initially to the “northern tier” of the Indian Ocean – Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore – but eventually extending to Indo China, Australia and even African countries.”

Hornsby iterates that for the Indians to embrace the Shah’s scheme enthusiastically now, would be a considerable rebuff to the Soviet Union and an indication of the political price the Indians are prepared to pay for concessionary supplies of oil and other economic aid from Iran.

In the same month, the Shah and the Empress paid an official visit to Australia. The Australian papers as well as those elsewhere printed that Iran was likely either to lend money directly to Australian Industry Development Corporation or become jointly involved with the government in Australian projects.

But among all these, did the world appreciate his vision? Does the West ever want peace in the only region that can afford paying astronomical figures for the latest weapons and military technology? If the Arab nations and their leaders – particularly those in the Persian Gulf region, had the wisdom, they would have seen the prosperity and lasting peace that such fundamental plans could bring to our region and would have supported our government wholeheartedly.

The Shah had said that his plan would help to create a positive and co-operative world partnership, which could usher in a decade of genuine development to equalise today’s disparities between rich and poor nations and harmonise their contradictions, which are the main source of animosities, conflicts and wars.

As for the Iranian generation at the time, there were those who fully supported the regime’s policies and witnessed the improvements made in all walks of life. But there were also those groups of Iranians, in particular the students who received government scholarship, including a 90% discount on their return airfare, the cost of their living expenses together with their university fees while they attended universities in capitalist countries. Some of them joined the Iranian Student Confederation – a communist/socialist group, and did not miss a chance to demonstrate every time an Iranian official or the Shah paid a visit to a foreign country. These students who were spoiled by the Imperial government’s financial support believed that it was their right to live comfortably as students abroad - a student life enviable by other students, and their political prerogative to shout death to their sovereign. It is ironic that hardly any of our left wing activists had ever lived, studied or even visited any of the communist block!

Such a trend had seemed bizarre enough that a European newspaper wrote; “Few people, even among young Iranians, appreciate the extent and scope of the changes, mainly because most of them have now come to take them for granted.”2

As the Shah’s fame and Iran’s fortune became center stage by the mid-seventies, so did European animosity towards him and our regime. Human Rights groups that have chosen to be silent in the past two and a half decades of the Islamic Republic’s genocide, either for their respective governments’ foreign policy such as “Constructive Engagements” or trade opportunities, would had not missed a chance to demonstrate their anger against the Shah or our officials in every possible way.

This is at a time when in June 1974 Iran with its US$5.4 billion had come to occupy the 13th place among the 20 richest countries of the world. Two years later Iran’s income from exports reached the US$15 billion whereas its imports were only in region of US$13 billion, with 52% intermediate goods, 30% machinery and 18% consumer goods.

The man who the Western media had portrayed as a dictator, told in an interview in 1976 to the famous Indian journalist and writer R. K. Karanjia, “If ever I felt that Persia’s monarchy had outlived its usefulness, I would be happy to resign and would even join in helping to abolish our monarchical institution.”

Margaret Laing, in her book titled, “The Shah” wrote, “The Shah believes discipline without democracy is authoritarianism, and that democracy without discipline is anarchy.”

Ironically, for at least the past thirty years the European press more than any Iranian opposition have been accusing HIM of not being democratic. He was called an autocrat at the best times and the “blood sucker of the century” at its worst! No one took the pain to understand the Shah’s reasons or his long desire for establishing democracy, a seed that was sewn in his mind from his adolescent years in Switzerland.

Time after time the Shah repeated that his concept of democracy springs from the fact that today’s common man has steadily been losing his grip over his economic activities. “So he is fully justified in demanding, together with his political rights, guarantees for his economic rights as well. To a man in dire economic want,” he said, “political freedom is utterly meaningless. The first and foremost duty, therefore, of any government is to usher in democracy – political, economic and social – for the benefit of the common man. Ever since my return from Switzerland” he continued, “I had been evolving my philosophy that every man, woman, and child in my country – or, for that matter, in any country of the world – is entitled to a decent minimum of the five necessaries of life: food, clothing, housing, medical care and education. These I consider to be the five imperative tenets of social justice. Further, I believe a man’s minimum income must be at such a level as would enable him to secure these five fundamentals for himself and his family.”

Economic and social democracies were the first two steps of his bigger plan that he managed to create and nurture successfully. By the late 70s one could not find a hungry Iranian where only two decades earlier even our capital hardly had access to clean water or any sanitations. By introducing free meals six days a week throughout the academic year to every schoolchild whether from a poor or rich background Iranian children were fed the same nutritious food for free, on daily basis!

Economic democracy had created a large middle class that is the backbone of every healthy society. Iranians where free to engage in any field of business and commerce, many who received government subsidies or long term loans with one of the lowest interest rates in the world. We were free to travel and were respected in all countries we visited. Social freedoms had allowed Iranians to flourish and hence, create one of the most vibrant and avant-garde societies of the Sixties and the Seventies.

Having enjoyed the above, our people demanded for political democracy that the Shah wished to see fully established before passing the throne to his son. However, the social and economic democracies enjoyed in Iran of pre-Islamic revolution were the results of nearly two decades of hard work. When people demanded to have political democracy, certain initiatives had already taken place by the government on that path but Iranians wanted it not tomorrow but yesterday! Asking any Iranian today would agree that to reach political democracy we did not have to uproot our entire existence and had we been wiser and less manipulated, by now we would have been a prosperous nation with a powerful industry to match those in the Western world. With a difference that we would have created indigenous democratic institutions to meet our specific needs and desires, to match our tradition, culture and history and not simply by copying them from the West.

In the meantime the European media began pounding the regime with baseless accusations against SAVAK – Iran’s answer to every other nation’s intelligence organization.

Once the Islamic Republic triumphed, most of those who were claimed to be executed or tortured by SAVAK, walked healthy out of the prison and took various offices in the newly formed Islamic regime. With full access to billions of dollars left in Iran’s coffers these individuals succeeded in knitting a network of terror which introduced the world to a new concept of Islamic fanaticism pursued by an international terrorism with wider and more horrific dimensions than ever before. Those who were once cheered as freedom fighters by the West and its human rights organizations, have today come to threaten the life of every man, woman and child in Western civilization.

Even at such critical point the European Union still flirts with a mafia-like regime only to gain further lucrative deals. Two and half decades earlier the West with its powerful propaganda machine had unleashed their venom towards our Imperial government and accused us for our lack of respect for human rights in order to protect the very individuals who are today threatening the security of all European and mostly American citizens and their way of life.

SAVAK portrayed as one of the most notorious organizations by Western media, its very own boss Mr. Hossein Fardoust who had grown up with the Shah and was sent to Switzerland with him to study, turned out to be a collaborator with the revolutionaries for many years!

Massoud Rajavi, leader of the People’s Mojahedin Organization whose group has been listed by the US Congress as a terrorist organization and a collaborator with Ayatollah Khomeini was one of the prisoners twenty six years ago who walked out of a SAVAK prison with a clear bill of health. However, after his escape from the Islamic Republic’s tyranny which himself played an active role in its creation; in an interview in Paris soon after his arrival on August 7th, 1981 said to reporters, “Khomeini is worst than Hitler and the Shah was nothing but a choir boy."

When our so called intellectuals began condemning every move the regime made, irrespective of its nature and reason it reminded me of Henry Kissinger’s comment; “Intellectuals condemn society for materialism when it is prosperous and for injustice when it is to ensure prosperity.”

Once all political factions were pushed aside by the Islamic regime, they began accusing each other and that the revolution was stolen from them! I always wondered how could those self-appointed intellectuals who admitted losing to a bunch of theologians ever succeed in running the country?

We always tend to think of historical tragedy as failing to get what we want, but if we study history we find that the worst tragedies have occurred when people got what they wanted … and it turned out to be the wrong objectives.

In the midst of havoc and chaos created by the revolutionaries, our so-called allies never came to our aid; instead a member of Carter’s administration credited the Ayatollah with sainthood. Ten months later Khomeini awarded the Americans by taking their diplomats hostage for 444 days.

Years later Henry Kissinger wrote; “The United States must show that it is capable of rewarding a friend or penalizing an opponent. It must be made clear, after too long an interval that our allies benefit from association with us and our enemies suffer. It is a simpleminded proposition perhaps, but for a great power it is the prerequisite, indeed the definition, of an effective foreign policy.”

In another reference to Iran and the consequence of the fall of the Shah he wrote; “Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are pivotal to the world’s security. Within few years of my 1973 journey to Tehran, it became an area of upheaval. From the Iranian revolution to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the Iran-Iraq war, events dramatized the vulnerability of the Persian Gulf – the lifeline of the West’s oil supply.”

The Shah in his last book, “Answer to History” which he began and completed in exile wrote, “The benefits of so many years of effort are now reduced to nothing.”

“Our assemblage of a formidable military force in the Middle East has resulted in charges of megalomania and of careless spending of Iran’s money on arms while my people are deprived of basics need. The question of the adequacy of our military force is subjective. To my knowledge, no military leader of world stature has criticized my arms policy as excessive. As for robbing the Iranian people of their living essentials in order to pay for armaments, nothing could be further from the truth. After paying for these armaments, Iran had a reserve of $12 billion in foreign currency.”

Today not only such reserve of foreign assets do not exist but according to the Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) for Economic Affairs Akbar Kimjani, “Iran's foreign debt, excluding interests due, stands at USD 23.438 billion by the end of the Iranian month of Dey (December 22, 2003 - January 20, 2004).”

Michael Ledeen in his book titled- Debacle: The American failure in Iran, says; “Accordingly, Mohammad Reza became passionately committed to the view that he must not take action that would produce large-scale bloodshed in his last days. He desired to be remembered as a benevolent monarch, not a ruthless dictator. As he told friends repeatedly in the final months of his rule, he wished to leave Iran not only with an advanced industrial base and military organization but with a modern political system as well. And he wanted to pass on to his son a country with genuine affection for the Pahlavi family. Could this be achieved if the revolution were smashed by the application of what he called " the iron fist"? The shah did not think so. Months after the debacle, he wrote:

‘I am told today that I should have applied martial law more forcefully. This would have cost my country less dear that the bloody anarchy now established there. But a sovereign cannot save his throne by spilling the blood of his fellow countrymen. A dictator can do it because he acts in the name of an ideology, which he believes he must make triumphant, no matter what the price. A sovereign is not a dictator. There is between him and his people an alliance, which he cannot break. A dictator has nothing to pass on: power belongs to him and him alone. A sovereign receives a crown. I could envisage my son mounting the throne in my own lifetime …’

Ledeen continues, “The last sentence is the operative one-the shah knew he was dying, and that the way in which the Iranian crisis was resolved would determine the destiny of his heir.”

While in exile Carter turned his back on the Shah and did not want to have anything to do with the leader who when celebrating New Year’s Eve 1978 at his home - Niavaran Palace in Tehran, he addressed the Shah by; “Our talks have been priceless, our friendship is irreplaceable, and my own gratitude is to the Shah, who in his wisdom and with his experience has been so helpful to me, a new leader.”

Steven Hayward in his book published in 2004 under the title, “The Real Jimmy Carter” writes; “Carter betrayed a man whose fall to the Ayatollah Khomeini on Carter’s watch spawned the resurgence of fundamentalist Islamist terrorism that is now the War on Terror.

Two months after the Shah’s death in Egypt, Iran’s brave armed forces who were trained as first class troops with the best armaments but without their top generals who had all been executed in the previous twenty months, were the key factors in stopping Saddam Hussein invading our country in an eight year war with Iraq.

Had the Shah of Iran remained in power, the Iran-Iraq war would not have occurred. By 1975, Iran’s superior military and economic power, supported diplomatically by her good neighbour policy that promised peace and progress for all, had drawn Saddam Hussein to a politics of mutual respect and friendly interaction. The Algiers Agreement of 1975 and Saddam’s expulsion of Khomeini from Iraq in 1978 attest to the efficiency of Iranian power and diplomacy. Had the war not occurred, a million Iranians and Iraqis would have not died in vain and several million would not have been forced from home and family.

Moreover, Iran’s national power and international prestige, and her interest in the Persian Gulf, would have made it impossible for Saddam to invade Kuwait. With the fall of the Soviet system, Iran, boasting the most advanced economy, technology and military in the region, would be the hub of peaceful and profitable diplomatic, cultural, economic and commercial relations in Central Asia and the Middle East. Iran’s power and her friendly and rational relations with the West would have made the presence of American troops and weapons in the Persian Gulf region redundant and consequently anti-American feeling would not have been excited by the likes of Khomeini or Khamanei or Osama Bin Laden. Islamist movements and organizations would not have the Islamic Republic as a model for emulation or support for expansion. A powerful, secular, and peaceful Iran – non-Arab and non-Jewish- would be a pillar on which both Israel and the Arab world could lean for balance and security as they and the world strived for peace in justice and dignity.

Henry Kissinger in Years of Upheaval in relation to the Shah and his fall wrote; “What overthrew the Shah was a coalition of legitimate grievances and an inchoate accumulation of resentment aimed at the very concept of modernity and at the Shah’s role as a moderate world leader. The Shah was despised less for what he did wrong than for what he did right. He was brought down by those who hated reform and the West; who were against absolute rule only if it was based on secular principles. The immediate victors were not enlightened dissidents of liberal democratic persuasion but the most regressive group in Iranian society: the religious ayatollahs who identified human dignity not with freedom and progress but with an ancient moral and religious code.”

Today the Shah of Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini are both gone. While Khomeini left a prosperous country in ruins and damaged Islam more than any one else since its advent, the Shah’s legacy lives on to this day in the hearts and minds of every Iranian.

Our youth today realising the catastrophic mistake that their parents made are eager more than ever before to learn about the truth. As Princess Ashraf called her book, it is “Time for Truth”.

The new generation who has escalated their pro democratic and secularist demand in recent years have so far received no international support while paying the heaviest price. They would only need to go through the pages of their family albums and see their parents during their teenage years or when they dated each other to begin questioning them about the country we had during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Many of them blaming the older generation for today’s ills are determined to put an end to this absurdity ruling our ancient land in the 21st century.

All they expect from the international community is to stick by them and to stop cutting deals with the religious apartheid that is bringing our nation to a complete annihilation.

If some of those in the older generation agreed with Ayatollah Khomeini and brought a system of government that they deserved, the new generation obviously deserves better and will demolish the system whether the European Union decides to be with us or with the terrorists.

Some of us may have lost hope, but in addressing his nation for the last time, the Shah in Answer to History wrote; “The lesson of the wickedness and immorality of international power-politics was burnt – yes, very literally burnt – into my mind and heart. The main lesson I learnt was that when you are weak you have got to be very patient. You have got to accept humiliation. You have got to take the worst kind of insults. But in your inner heart you have got to love your country, have faith in its people and believe in their destiny as well as yours. If you do so, there is always a little ray of hope left which kindles in your conscience and inspires you to make the best of the worst possible circumstances and save whatever little you can of your land and its inheritance. That is the key to human survival amidst overwhelming difficulties.”

2 The Times 25th Oct. 1974

[i] Former American president Jimmy Carter in his Christmas toast to the Shah of Iran, Tehran, Niavaran Palace, December 1977

2 The Times 25th Oct. 1974

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


According to the Chambers dictionary secularism is defined as; the belief that the state, morals, education, etc. should be independent of religion; G J Holyoak’s (1817-1907) system of social ethics.

Have those of us who have defended democracy for a long time but been more vocal about secularism in recent years asked ourselves how secular are we prepared to be in a future democratic Iran?

Majority of the democratic governments are secular in one shape or another. From the French and the Turkish forms of republics where principles of secularism is strictly observed and defended, to those European monarchies where religious minority immigrants have been allowed to impose their customs to a degree that is beginning to test the host nation’s level of tolerance.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.” My question to our fellow Iranians is that how aggressively are we prepared to defend such noble principles once democracy and secularism are established by a majority vote in our country?

One of the recent challenges and at times heated debates in the Western secular democracies has been the issue of banning the religious symbols including that of the Islamic headscarves in French schools. The new regulation bans Muslim headscarves as well as Jewish yarmulkes and wearing of other ostensible religious symbols in French public schools.

Such decision has even invited opposing views from within Western democracies. Many journalists in Britain for example, have objected the French decision, regarding it as interference in one’s personal freedom. However, they have failed to iterate the fact that the French government’s proposal was democratically submitted to the French assembly which was in turn accepted by a majority who equally address all religious symbols including that of the Catholics who make the majority of the French nation. Nevertheless some fanatic Muslim groups like to portray such decision as a fight against Islam.

E.J. Dionne Jr. in an article in Washington Post dated 12/23/2003, under the title of “In France, Scarves & Secularism” wrote: “The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, condemned the Chirac government for ‘an extremist decision aimed at preventing the development of Islamic values’.” He continued, “Imagine being called ‘extremist’ on a religious question by an official of the Iranian government!”

Secularism and democracy are like two sides of a brain. In order to have a fully functional body, both sides of the brain with their specific responsibilities are needed in order to achieve the desired being. Therefore, those who comically advocate baseless concepts such as the Islamic Democracy can never deliver the true freedom our people are fighting for when divine rules and restrictions would oversee every aspects of their daily life.
The question that eventually we have to face is are we going to adhere to principles that would declare Iran a country with no official religion; hence, no advantages given to an Iranian Muslim over those Iranians from other religions? I am talking of a society that goes further than pre-1979 where an Iranian Jew, Baha’i, Christian or a Zoroastrian can become our country’s prime minister or in case of a republic, its president.

Prince Reza Pahlavi if not the only Iranian political leader believing in such principles, is definitely the only one who has been brave enough to publicly state his vision for a country with no official religion. He has defended the freedom of all political beliefs/parties, guaranteeing individual rights such as; regional languages and dialects, sexual orientations, religious beliefs as well as all social freedoms that many other progressive and democratic nations in the world enjoy or may take for granted.

However, he or any other Iranian politically active cannot and will not succeed if we as individual Iranian do not participate or take steps for our future. At times in meeting other compatriots I feel we are still blurred in our understanding of secularism or that of a true democracy. Do we really understand what it is all about? If we do, how far are we prepared to go in a free, democratic and secular Iran of the future to defend its principles? Will we make concessions every now and then and therefore, undermining the principles of secularism for religious beliefs of one or two religious public figures or groups?

In order to guarantee and protect the sacrifices of so many pro-democracy and secular activists, we need a modern constitution written by elected experts to meet the modern world’s requirements; to respect our true national values and to promote the two unbending pillars of that society; secularism and democracy.

In an article “Defending Secularism, Turkey’s Military Warns Islamic Leaders” in New York Times, dated March 2, 1997 journalist Stephen Kinzer wrote; “The communiqué issued by the Turkish military states that the Turkish National Security Council had decided that ‘no steps away from the contemporary values of the Turkish Republic would be tolerated.’ ‘It has been decided that destructive and separatist groups are seeking to weaken our democracy and legal system by blurring the distinction between the secular and the anti-secular," the communiqué continued "It has been decided that in Turkey, secularism is not only a form of government but a way of life and the guarantee of democracy and social peace.”

The communiqué further adds: ‘It has been decided that it is impossible to step back from our understanding of the social and legal principles which form the structural core of the state, and that out-of-date measures which are taken without regard for these principles do not coincide with our legal system."

It may seems at times; in particular in countries where some believers take religious beliefs out of proportion that it is the secularist factor which comes to the rescue of the democratic values of those societies; hence, giving secularism even a more important of a role to play.

What force is going to safeguard our future secularism? Is it going to be the will of the majority - a new constitution? But that can change or be influenced, particularly in countries like ours. Or is it going to be a strong army as in the Turkish case to stand by the constitution? But then again our history has already proved that our military may abandon once again the constitution and hence, jeopardizing the principles of our secular state. Or do we need to achieve a Kemalist like ideology and developing it into a national party that would stand by its principles no matter what the case may be?

Unlike what the leaders of the Islamic Republic like to portray secularists are no atheists. A secular Muslim woman or a man could be a staunch secularist while observing her/his religion in the privacy of their home.

Today our country has a majority of nearly 97% Muslims, but this majority are composed of youths who are the main forces of change in today’s struggle against the Islamic Republic’s barbarity. Masses that are least religious and most eager to grasp the most progressive ideas the world can offer. These youngsters very rightly do not care what Western politicians think or like in Washington, London or Paris. They are an educated generation with access to the latest communication equipments and are quite well aware of what is going on around the world.

This generation demands total transparency, freedom of expression followed by all social liberties thinkable to mankind. A democratic political system based on a society with its foundation on secular principles; demands that an Islamic republic under whatever shape or form cannot deliver.

Whether the West, or for that matter the world supports us or not is not going to alter the path our movement has chosen. Though their understanding and acceptance of our nation’s will can speed up the process and therefore, guarantee a better life for them as well as for my compatriots. The European allies of the Islamic Republic can continue their “constructive engagement” for as long as they find it profitable; but the reality is that when almost forty million Iranians mobilize, no power in the world can stop them.

Iranians have made it very clear and have given enough chances to those who had promised them heavens but instead opened the doors to hell. Establishment of democracy and secularism through a national referendum is the only solution we see for the future of our country. Today is the last chance for those who want to be with the people of Iran.