Message on the Occasion of Dreadful Ramadan
پیام بمناسبت ماه محنت بار رمضان
Not that I am personally that important or to think I am the leader of people that anybody would be waiting for my message on the occasion of any event, whether the event to be cultural or political. I am a futurist thinker and in fact because of the reason that I will explain below, always avoided to write my political goals under the pretext of cultural occasions, let alone to issue a message on an occasion of a cultural event.
Of course I have written articles about issues such as Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) 's attempts to destroy Norouz which has been political discussion about regime's political action and not an attempt to misuse a cultural tradition of Iran for political purposes.
But why today I see the need to give a message on the occasion of the dreadful month of Ramadan? Dreadful because in Iran as a nonreligious person I always suffered because of Islamic religious people forcing me to be deprived of the right to easily eat in the public realm for a realm for a month, and all this compulsion to me and the likes of me in the public realm on the streets and office with the reason that *they* want to fast. Before I continue this discussion, let me first to explain my opinion clearly about messages misusing cultural occasion for political purposes that I mentioned at the beginning.
I always hated speeches by politicians on the occasions of cultural celebrations or the beginning of school year or playing national anthem before the start of movies in cinemas . The reason was that these actions are compulsion by political power in the society on the people and that at the time that people want to celebrate a cultural tradition or want to have fun to go see a movie not to stand up and listen to a national anthem when they have not gone to a movie for patriotic purpose to be forced to stand up and pay respects to a national anthem. Even commercial advertising in the middle of cultural events is more understandable for me than these political compulsions on TV, radio, and cinema that have always been used in Iran.
Today on the occasion of the beginning of month of Ramadan world politicians despite many of them not seeing any value in this month just to please the Muslims to have friendly relations, issue greeting messages. I also as an individual who has been in Iranian political arena for years, would like to present my take of this politicized issue.
Of course if religion and specifically this fasting of month of Ramadan was not accompanied with political compulsion, and was treated as a private matter in Iranian society, just like the time of other cultural events, I would not have used this occasion to present my political views. But with politicization of religion in Iran and the working of Islam as a religious ideology of Iran's government, reaction to the experience of another month of Ramadan is not the private issue of religious people anymore.
Regardless of how the Islamists succeeded to rise in Iran and elsewhere which I have discussed a lot, one reality is that like an Octopus this has put its claws on the life of Iranian people and others in the Middle East, making Islamism the main problem of the region and anyone under any pretext to think the overthrow of this fascistic system to be secondary and for example those who scare people of ethnic breakup and the like and implicitly support some factions of IRI whether they are monarchist or Jebhe Melli, whether leftist or melli-mazhabi, whether Green or Futurist, they are either spiteful or ignorant not to know that the existence or destruction of Iran depends on whether Islamism remains or is overthrown because if it lasts in Iran not only Iran but the who of Middle East can regress hundreds of years.
Regardless of whatever reason that Islamism succeeded in the region, today this fascist current is the main obstacle for any progress in the Middle East and those who want the removal of Islamism, whether they be states or political movements, they are the allies of Iran's progressive and secular movement, and those in contrast who support the stay of this current of Islamism in the region and beyond, whether they are movements like the Non-aligned movement or to be governments like Cuba, are enemies of progress and democracy in Iran. In fact, the governments like the U.S. may think that those allies of them like Israel are able to defend themselves whereas they may be worried about allies like Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf Sheikdoms that may be overthrown by Al Qaida and thus they may be willing because of the bigger danger of Al Qaida to their interests, to give some concessions to Shi'a Islamists and Islamic Republic of Iran.
Not only the progressive movements because of their anti-colonial struggle had dual approach to the Islamists and thus strengthened them at different historical turns, the use of one kind of Islamism by major powers against a government close to their competitor, whether because of their own competition or because of seeing more danger from various groups of Islamists at different time periods, is not anything new and has been the reason for many defeats of secularism in the Middle East. It is enough to remember the use of Taliban by Western governments against the secular pro-Soviet regime of Afghanistan. But what is new is that Islamism is showing itself a a major global force of threat itself and not as an agent of this or other world power.
And a very important point is that at the world scale the the Sunni type of Islamism, namely Al Qaida, is the main problem and not its Shi'a version which is the main issue of Iranian progressive forces. Thus in Iran, contrary to the view of many political analysts and contrary to all the loud words, the foreign threat to the regime is not the main threat of this regime and basically the overthrow of Islamic Republic, whether we see it as a blessing or as a curse, is all the main problem of Iranian people.
I went too far away from the discussion of the month of Ramadan. Let me return to the discussion of the message for Ramadan.
My message on the occasion of month of Ramadan is very simple. I state my support for all the nonreligious people and also all the Muslims who break fasting and I praise those all those who are courageous to eat and drink in public and not only I do not consider this behavior of their disrespectful of our fasting Muslim countrymen, but I see their behavior as the utmost respect of fasting breakers for human rights.
Is breaking fast in public an insult to the religion of ordinary people who have no love for the Islamic Republic? Not at all. Respecting freedom of people to choose religion does not mean respecting the violations to freedom or respecting any crime that are done rightly or wrongly in the name of religion. When a state gives lashes and hits those who do not want to fast to make them fast, not breaking fasting is not because of respecting the religious Muslims, but it is because of fear of lashes and other criminal acts of the ideological regime that has made fasting compulsory in the public realm of society.
Is breaking fasting in Iran a civil disobedience? Of course hundred percent it is. The same way that the two political prisoners Akbar Mohammadi and Faiz Mahdavi by fasting in prison and losing their lives that way expressed their civil disobedience, in the month of Ramadan in contrast, inside the prison and outside, when the state has made fasting compulsory for people, breaking fasting is the real expression and wider expression of civil disobedience. I do not expect the Islamic Republic and its mouthpieces to agree with my view but I hope those who support civil disobedience in Iran, to defend this important movement of civil disobedience in Iran.
Even before the Islamic Republic the restaurants were forced not to offer food openly during the month of Ramadan and of course they said this was paying respects to Islamic traditions. Whereas that was also the compulsion of the *declared* religion in the public realm of Iran. If somebody wants to fast, this is a private matter the same way that someone may follow a certain diet to lose weight. That other people not wanting to do the same and want to reat as usual does not mean disrespecting the one who is fasting or the one who is on a diet.
If I am in a room with someone who is fasting, I may not intentionally eat my sandwich in front of him. But forcing such consideration based on the so-called higher virtue of those who fast and considering those who who do not fast as inferior, is a religious compulsion in the public realm that even in secular Iran before the Islamic Republic existed and was wrong and at that time it should have been confronted, and even more importantly in the future we should not accept any such compulsions by any faith in the public realm of society.
Religion of Islam in the name of respecting Muslims has forced its ethos in Iranian society enough and in reality it is the disrespect more towards those who are not religious and it is time to stand up to this disrespect of Muslims towards those who are not Muslim or who do not want to fast. Respecting any religion has meaning only up to the point where that religion does not make anti human rights compulsions against others.
If a religion murders an apostate, not only one should not have any respect for such view of that religion but any believer of that religion committing such crime should be severely punished. Also if a religion by force enters the private life of those who do not want to practice the rites of that religion and wants to dictate when they can or can't eat, no respect for that view of that religion is justified and the supporters of that religion are violating the human rights, and one should stand up to them whether in the public realm or even when with regards to their children who may not want to fast.
Religion in the public realm is judged by the criteria of human rights and even in the secular regimes if a religion wants to sacrifice a human and says this is part of their religious rites, they should not expect any respect from the secular society and in the civilized societies such criminals who have religious reason for their crimes are treated the same way as others who may sacrifice a human for any other reason. With regards to stoning, amputations, eye gouging, and killing of apostates (morteds) and the like among the religious Muslims or the compulsion of fasting by Muslims on others or on their children at home, the priority should be given to human rights and not to the respect of religious beliefs of any religion.
After centuries in Iran more people break fasting in this dreadful month of Ramadan showing that there is no such things as Islamic country and any country is the place of life of many people with different beliefs whether they want to be religious or nonreligious and no religion has the right in th public realm to make the life of other thoughts a living hell. This is the civil disobedience in the real sense of the word and ending the false respect for religion in general and Islam in particular, which means that need to seriously deal with the beliefs in compulsory fasting and beliefs in crimes like stoning and killing of apostates and the like that are clear violations of human rights.
Respect for any religion has meaning only as far as that belief does not violate the human rights of those of other beliefs.
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher