United Front for a Secular Regime in Iran
Why did the call for referendum fail [http://60000000.com/index-eng.php3]? For the same reason that the 2nd khordad movement failed, and that was because of hoping for the Islamic reformists to successfully lead the pro-democracy movement to end the Islamic Republic. I do not mean to consider the Islamic reformists as the enemies of Iran's pro-democracy movement. No, and just like Alexander Dubcek in former Czechoslovakia, who wanted democratic socialism, the Iranian Islamic reformers are allies of the pro-democracy movement, but the same way that Dubcek, as long as the movement expected from him and the force he represented to lead the movement to change the ideological regime, and in this case the religious state, the only outcome will be disappointment. Why? I will explain in the following lines.
We hear from people like the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi that she is concerned about the discriminations against the human rights of Muslims. For example, just a few days ago she had a speech at a gathering of World Ethics Foundation at Tübingen University in Germany, where again she started her speech by emphasizing to be a Muslim and spoke about how concerned she was about the violation of the rights of Muslims all over the world. Are her words wrong? In my opinion, no. She considers herself a Muslim and proclaims herself as such, and she is not lying, and correctly is worried about the violation of the rights of Muslims, because after the growth of the Islamist despotism and terrorism, the Muslims all over the world are viewed as anti-democratic, and are looked at as security risks, even though the majority of Muslims living in the West have clearly emphasized that they oppose the interpretation of Islam supported by the religious despots and terrorists .
Could Alexander Dubcek say the same thing? Yes and he did. In fact, at that time there was a lot of discrimination against the communists in the U.S. and Europe because of the actions of Communist dictators and terrorists. We all know about McCarthyism during the 1950's in the U.S. which was the naked form of the discriminations that existed for over half a Century. At that time, the majority of the Communists living in the U.S. and Europe said that they opposed the interpretations of Communism supported by the despots and terrorists and they were not lying.
But could the likes of Dubcek take the leadership of the movement to end the Communist ideological states? No, even though they were the allies of the pro-democracy movement. The same way the likes of Shirin Ebadi cannot lead the struggle to end the Islamic religious state although they are allies of the pro-democracy movement. Why?
The reason is the fact that although at the time of past Eastern Bloc Communist dictatorship and the Islamic despotism at the present, many of the peaceful supporters of these ideologies in the West were hurt because of their dictator and terrorist counterparts elsewhere, but inside the Communist countries or countries under Islamist state, the main problem of the people in those societies, is not the violation of the human rights of Communists in the former or the Muslims in the latter case, rather the issue is the violation of human rights of those who oppose Communism in the former and those who oppose Islam in the latter, which the socialist reformers in the former and the Islamist reformers in the latter do not fully understand. Even those of the former authorities of former Communist states who played a role in ending the Communist regimes in the Eastern Bloc were the ones who themselves turned against Communism, and *not* those who remained reformers of that system.
The problem of Iranian people is not the anti-Muslim violations, where for example a girl could not wear Islamic hijab to go to school, but the opposite is true that if a girl wants to go to school without hijab she can end up with acid thrown at her face, or that if someone says heresy s/he can risk his/her life, or if one eats walking on the street during the month of Ramadan, he can get lashes. etc. [http://www.ghandchi.com/370-disobedience-plus.htm]. The majority of inviters of the call of the 60m site from start were Islamist reformers, who were still Islamist, and in the call they only condemned the despotism within a religious state, and not the religious state itself. Lack of clarity in support of a secular state was noted to them many times, but they did not change it and very consciously they kept it intact and were sleek to show the serious critiques of this issue as personal differences and innuendo and censored the opposing views on that ground.
Was it right to have Islamic reformers to join this movement? In my opinion, yes. The same way that monarchists and republicans and leftists and nationalists and many other forces correctly were present in the movement for referendum many years before the 60m site. But what should have been the center of the unity, should have been the call for founding a secular state [http://www.ghandchi.com/302-Secularism-plus.htm] and thus that group of Islamic activists and reformers who were not ready to join the movement to start a secular state, would have been outside this alliance, which I think was fine. In fact, the main opposition force of Iran's regime, are those people who are against an Islamic government, and such grass root forces would not support a plan whose leaders were still after some kind of religious state.
It is possible that some people may ask why in Afghanistan the new government has called itself an Islamic state. In my opinion, in Afghanistan a people's movement did not bring Taliban to power. Taliban was brought to power with the help of the U.S., and the U.S. also brought down the Taliban from power. Whereas Islamic movement in Iran, just like the Communist movement in Russia, brought an ideological state to power in Iran, and also the movement for the overthrow of this regime, exactly is against the existing ideological state, and this regime has not come to power by the plans of foreign advisers, for the future regime to be planned by them [http://www.ghandchi.com/355-Iran1357.htm]. Comparison of Iraq is also wrong, because the new Iraqi state, except for Kurdistan of Iraq, and to some extent the South of Iraq, has not been formed by a general movement of Iraqi people. In Iran, general movement of Iranian people in the last 20 years has been against the Islamic violations of the religious state and in the last few years the struggle has evolved to a movement to end this religious state and to found a secular state, although many secularists in Iran are forced to wear the cloak of an Islamic reformer to stay alive, but just like the former Soviet Union, Iranian people's movement wants to end the existing ideological state and not to reform it, and this is the difference of Iran with Afghanistan and Iraq.
Moreover it may be a good idea that here I make a point about an issue that is being heard of all around. Many people who for years have been cooperating with the American neocons, all of a sudden apparently because of the neocons siding with Iran's separatists, are all up in arms with their veins showing to be hot nationalists writing against the AEI conference. I have expressed my views about Iran's nationalities and Iranian national sentiments in the past [http://www.ghandchi.com/342-KurdFed-plus.htm] but let me repeat in a few lines a couple of summary points about some details of this discussion.
In the past, I wrote my position about the dependent separatist currents like Chehregani who is the lackey of Aliyev of former Soviet Azerbaijan Republic and there is no need to repeat here. Also I have repeatedly written about some forces in Iran's Kurdistan who instigate anti-Persian sentiments and equate the people of non-Kurdish parts of Iran with the Islamic Republic. At the same time, I have explained a lot about the retrogressive views of some political forces of Iran who instigate the prejudices against the various ethnic groups of Iran. Especially I have written many times that the plan for federalism in Iran is about "Checks and Balances" [http://www.ghandchi.com/362-FederalismRights-plus.htm] that some people including myself support it, and I have always condemned the actions of separatist groups in Khouzestan and also the party-making of Turkey's PKK inside Iran for the goal of making the Greater Kurdistan, and I consider all these activities against the growth of democracy in Iran and against pro-democracy movement of Iran.
Thus those who equate the federalism position with the groups that are instigating ethnic animosities, are either dishonest, or misinformed. Federalism is not about separate language in different states. The state legislature can have the issue of language as one of the topics to decide on like many other issues. The main issue is that the state legislature can in this age of globalization play the role of checks and balances for the regions. Claims of this kind as if federalism means an ethnic state, is like saying that those who call for freedom to choose outfit are asking for students to go naked to school. Does democracy and federalism in the U.S. after 200 years mean such erroneous notions. Unfortunately many opponents, and also many supporters of federalism in Iran, without having the necessary knowledge of the topic, with many noble goals on both sides, write many uneducated opinions about this topic, that cause only misleading discussions, instead of clarifying the model of new democracy in Iran. I have written in the past about these misunderstandings and how it had damaged Iranian movement at 21 Azar [http://www.ghandchi.com/388-Lesson21Azar-plus.htm]. For example, in my book about Kurds and the formation of central government in Iran I have clearly shown that contrary to the perception of the ultranationalists of Iran, wrong positions against federalism can cause the disintegration of Iran and not defending federalism [http://www.ghandchi.com/700-KurdsIran-plus.htm].
Let me return to the discussion of AEI conference. Why all of a sudden everyone is worried about these separatists? Firstly, those forces that have been invited to that conference, are not the real groups of Iranian democratic movement and I should also note that all those groups together cannot even separate one little village north of Makou from Iran let alone to cut Iran into pieces! Those who know Iranian political forces know that the likes of Chehregani in Iran are no force, to account for everyone now pulling their sword for these currents. Moreover, many of those issuing communiqués against this conference, even about a year ago, were involved in discussions with AEI, with these same forces, and did not say anything about these real separatists, and instead tried to show the supporters of federalism in Iran as separatists? What has suddenly happened?
In my opinion, this conference is neither about invading Iran nor is it that important. I think all these ado are the efforts of a number of political forces of Iran with different goals to get the leadership of Iran's pro-democracy movement, and doing it by erecting a pseudo-nationalist agenda against an imaginary separatist enemy. Let me repeat that I do not mean to say that these separatist and dependent currents are imaginary, but my point is that all of them together do not amount to even 0.5 percent of Iranian opposition, and basically do not count, and hardly have any significance.
The truth of the matter is that times have long passed to keep our hopes in the remnants of the 2nd khordad movement to lead the pro-democracy movement of Iran to end the Islamic regime and today is the time to form a united front to start a secular state in Iran and the leadership of this movement will be with the groups and individuals who are Iranian secular and futurist groups and personalities, although the Islamic reformers will be our allies in this movement.
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
October 23, 2005