Dilemma of MelliMazhabi Parties for Future Iran
There are a few Iranian political parties such as Nehzate Azadi and OMIR (sAzmAne mojAhedine enghelAbe eslAmi) that are referred to as MelliMazhabi roughly translated as "National Islamist". Because of years of struggle against dictatorship, the Iran's democratic movement automatically assumes that such parties should be allowed to participate in future democratic state of Iran. It is thought that any ban on such parties in the political process would be discrimination based on their religious leaning, and immediately the example of the Christian Democratic Party of Germany is noted. Let's examine the issue closer.
For a moment, let's forget that the religious leaning of these parties is Islam. To make the issue clearer, imagine that a group of people create a religious party promoting a Satanic religion which prescribes sacrificing the virgins on the full moon. And in their literature, the party defends such practices and the canons of that religion. Now would it be right to allow such a party to have candidates for presidency or parliament of the state?
Such a party platform is in direct negation of any democratic constitution, and banning such a party is not discriminating against a party because of being religious. It is discriminating against it because of its criminal platform being in opposition to the democratic constitution.
Now let's look at Iran's OMIR. Even as recent as the arrest of their own leading member Aghajari on blasphemy, they still supported the death fatwa of Khomeini against Salman Rushdie. Isn't this a criminal political platform to prescribe such murder edicts? When an Islamic political party prescribes the laws of killing mortads, stoning, amputations, etc, isn't such a platform opposite to a democratic constitution? Then how can such a party be allowed to run to take over the state in a democratic country?
This is not discriminating against such parties because of being religious? In fact, I am against separation of politics and religion and I think religious people should have every right to participate in politics as individuals or groups, but they should clearly have platforms that are not *opposite* to democratic rights and they should also accept the constitutional principle of separation of state and religion.
Separation of state and religion does not mean that a religious person cannot run for state offices, but it *does* mean that one who has a position in the religious hierarchy of Shi'a Islam should not be allowed to run for a state office.
The MelliMazhabi political parties in Iran have not taken clear positions on criminal practices such as stoning, killing of morteds, throwing homosexuals off the cliff, amputations and other criminal legal codes which are prescribed in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). If these forces are sincere in their support for democracy, they need to have clear stands on these issues, which are not theoretical topics anymore, and are the ongoing anti-democratic practices of IRI for 24 years.
The reality is that MelliMazhabi forces of Iran are planning a transformation of IRI to their version of an Islamist state, and have no intention of helping the formation of full secularism in Iran. They want to turn Iran into another China where Teng Hsiao-Ping preserved the Communist state with the reformist tag.
Not recognizing the above is the reason for the most important deviation of the pro-democracy movement of Iran. On one hand the Iranian pro-democracy movement is seeking nothing short of full secularism, but on the other hand there are people and groups who under the banner of democratic rights of religious parties block those who scrutinize these MelliMazhabi forces on the issue of criminal legal codes, such as the MelliMazhabis' support of death fatwa for Salman Rushdie. Whitewashing the MelliMazhabi forces on this important issue is doing a disservice to pro-democracy movement of Iran.
It is noteworthy that some of the former members of Islamists who had seen the despotism of Islamism and have taken strong positions on IRI; have also taken a strong position on the MelliMazhabis, and thus they are getting the wrath of MelliMazhabis, who are calling them as suspect, to discredit them, because these people have known Islamism well, and are now standing up to all forms of Islamism and not just the so-called hardliners, and this is infuriating the MelliMazhabis.
Traditionally secular forces like Jebhe Melli did not take a strong stand against MelliMazhabis and considered them as democratic forces, regardless of the support of MelliMazhabis for death fatwa of Khomeini for Rushdie, and similar support of these forces for criminal religious legal code and practices of IRI. In contrast, as noted, some former Islamists who have become dissidents now, are taking a more radical stand against MelliMazhabis, and this is why they are getting the fury of the MelliMazhabi forces, who try to depict them as Vevak (IRI intelligence) agents.
It is important that Iranian progressive forces to note this new reality of the Iranian movement, when assessing the rumors originating from the MelliMazhabis forces about various pro-democracy activists, who have been fighting IRI and MelliMazhabis, and do not want anything short of full secularism for Iran. Surely contrary to what MelliMazhabis want us to believe, Vevak is not in the business of trying to create full secularism for Iran!
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
Oct 22, 2003