I think the Students Movement of today in Iran is fundamentally different from the Iranian Students Movements of the 60's and 70's.


The Students Movements that followed the 1953 Coup, and were marked by the 16th of Azar, were basically driven by the political groups in Iran.  Groups such as hezb-e toodeh, jebh-e melli, and nehzat-e azadi and later on, mujAhedin, cheikhAy-e faAdyee, and others.


Today's student movement is actually a part of a strong intellectual movement in Iran and is hardly driven by political groups of Iran.  From Khatami to Reza Pahlavi, from MKO to Jebh-e Melli, various political groups try hard to identify with this student movement, but basically this movement looks up to the intellectuals of Iran.


The events of recent weeks in Iran remind me a lot of the last years of the Czech's Communist Regime, where old political groupings, and a most popular figure among them, Alexander Dubcek, lost their popularity quickly, as the movement got momentum, and Vaclav Havel, an author, unknown in the political circles, rose to be the leader of the new strong movement for change.


Today in Iran, the Islamic Reformers and Khatami, are attacking the hardliners for what they consider to be the misrepresentation of true Islam and Islamic Revolution by hardliners.  Just as Alexander Dubcek wanted to save Communism by attacking the hard line rulers, Khatami wants to save the Islamic State, by repeating his Reformist interpretation of Islamic Revolution, something that even his collaborators do not buy anymore.


On the other hand, Reza Pahlavi's last speech, was taken seriously for the first time in many years, because he disassociated himself from the Shah's monarchy and wanted to play a role like Sihanok in Cambodia, where talking the most of secular democracy, and focusing on referendum for the future form of state in Iran.  Sticking with the strong desire of Iranian people for a referendum and having intellectual supporters of monarchy, such as Shahin Fatemi to speak on his behalf, than staunch monarchists of Shah's time, helped gain support for his call.


In other words, the 1979 Revolution and 1990's Reform are fading away, and the old political alternatives have little credibility to attract any serious following.


Political groupings of the past are all trying very hard to be *the* alternative, but what is obvious is that people are looking for new leaders elsewhere, not among the old political groupings of the past.


People are looking for new leaders among the authors and journalists and among other intellectuals, the ones who have not been necessarily associated with any political movement.


What Iranian people are doing about politics, is a new way of looking at political destiny of Iran.  They are now experimenting with an alternative way of looking for political alternatives.  They are looking for political leaders among the ones who are hardly political, in the traditional sense of the word.  That is the likes of Vaclav Havel.


Sam Ghandchi, Publisher



February 12, 2001







* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on Feb 12, 2001.


**Attachment: A bibliography of Vaclav Havel:  http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/vhavel.htm

Go to Discovery for Unique Gifts