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A Message from Tehran, Is It Worth It to Risk Your Life?


How awful it is when one feels and experiences oneself absolutely ignorant and shaky and uncertain, unable to decide and do anything. This is the kind of feeling I have been increasingly experiencing as the ‘political’ events in Iran escalate. The only thing I know is that I love Persia and as soon as I start to say I hate Arab conquerors who brought her downfall and a gift for her natives that must have supposedly appeared more enchanting than what their own Persian rulers–I really should say kings for a reason that will be discovered soon–could offer them, I remember myself twenty three years ago and also now during the recent uprisings. Surely, those Persian ancestors who surrendered to the Arab conquerors–and I can hate and blame them as much I hate and blame those foreign conquerors–yes, as soon as I think of those Persian ancestors I tell myself, most probably they thought and felt as many of us did before the onset of the so-called Islamic Revolution and as we are feeling here, now.

What is this feeling?

What we and perhaps many people of the world share now and in the past under similar situations is that we do not favor our ruling system. We crave for a "better" one. And I suppose my ancestors who did not resist the Arab conquerors for the supposedly better world and life they promised them and betrayed their king for that reason–as all the nations have been doing with their own ruling systems throughout the history–yes, those ancestors must have thought and felt in the same way as we thought and felt before the victory of the Islamic Revolution (1978) and as a certain number of us have been thinking and feeling all these years under the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I wonder if this is not perhaps the same feeling that many Afghanis and Iraqis had under the rule of Taliban and Saddam Hussein as our closest neighbors. This certain number of us share the feeling with another fewer number of us in craving for a ‘better’ ruling system. Our difference, however, lies in the fact that the former say "anything" (meaning any ruling system) other than the present system–as Afghanis and Iraqis must have said before the fall of their respective regimes with the help of foreigners, that is Western Imperialism [1]–and in practice depending on their courage play an active role in any anti-governmental demonstration. The latter–that might be called the apathetic, conservative, old-aged type, depending on the perspective we take [2]–are only capable of showing an active passivity, such as opening the door of their houses to the courageous members of the first group when they escape the hands of those ‘unknown savages’ or Anti-revolutionary Guards.

They can’t say ‘anything other than Islamic Rulers’ if that would mean a ruling system like the ones that came to power in Afghanistan and Iraq after the fall of Taliban and Saddam Hussein. They can’t imagine paving the way to anything foreign or as our Persian Pre-Islamic Ancestors would say anything An-irani (meaning not native or genuinely native).

Twenty three years ago many of us were not happy to welcome Islamic Rulers–perhaps the contemporary heirs of the Arab conquerors of the past–but we did not resist. Instead we surrendered and have remained in such a state ever since then. Why? In one word, because we could not conceive of a better ruling system. Capitalism we had seen. Communism we had seen. Neither seemed to be that ‘better system.’ So we told ourselves "Come on, don’t be prejudiced. Why do you bother about the form, perhaps the content would prove to be that ‘better system?’ Particularly when you can’t conceive of any other alternative."

So we kept quiet. And we shut our mouths when they killed our intellectuals, our genius students, our brave ‘idealist’ anti-revolutionary—-in their view–young people. And we kept quiet when we were whipped and our children were beaten and whipped based on the most illogical reactionary charges. We stood mute when we witnessed the plaque of increasing corruption spreading like an octopus across all domains of life and when we saw our intellectuals imprisoned on soundless, inhuman ground and when we watched the most an-Irani raid and plunder of our Persian inheritance and loot our country’s wealth.

Do you want more examples of our voluntary self-induced suffocation? Only our evolutionary rhinoceros skin has helped us to survive so much self-induced suffocation all these years!

Twenty three years ago, I was among the first group, that is the group that wished for anything other than the existing ruling system. And I repeated more or less the same mistake some six or seven years ago, that is at the beginning of the so-called Reformation Movement and voted for Mr. Khatami.

How many times in life can we make essentially the same mistake? How many times?

So now I belong to that active passive second group described above. I can just sit in my flat and clap for all those who are risking their life and freedom, but at least release this long standing self-induced suffocation in the streets. I envy them. And I envy you sitting over ‘there’ (i.e. outside the country) encouraging the brave members of the former group to protest and fight back and. When I say ‘brave’ I automatically remember all those people killed before, during, and after the Revolution and those killed during the eight years of the war with Iraq.

This is the third time in my life time that I have to decide: ‘whose side should I take?’ While now the only thing that I know is that I love Persia and I can’t bear to see her betrayed by us again.

So the first question is: "Can the present regime be overthrown without the obvious–as in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq–or secret interventions of foreigners, as seems to have been the norm ever since the rise of post-colonialism?

The second puzzling question is "Why aren’t they showing their habitual brutality? Why aren’t they acting as they did three years ago during the first serious students uprising? Couldn’t this be another stage of the internal struggle over power among the Islamic rulers? As it proved to be, in the case of the Reformation Movement and Mr. Khatami’s elections?"

And I tell myself, surely, you don’t wish to act as a toy again? But there times when the feeling of thes "anything other than" movement overwhelms me and I feel this maddening urge to rush to wherever there is a demonstration, no matter who is pulling the strings.

But before being able to make a move in this direction, the question arises immediately: "Are you sure it is worth it? To risk your life?"

Please somebody help me. Would it be worth it? I mean anybody’s life? To sacrifice it for ‘anything other than the existing regime?’ Is hatred and revenge enough to decide here?

ROYA MONAJEM lives in Terhan and can be reached atL royamonajem@yahoo.com


1. I think I should say post-imperialism, forgive my political ignorance please, don’t forget that I am an ‘enforced’ apolitical craze-sapiens.

2. In reality again as a national group of apolitical craze-sapiens they are perhaps an amalgamation of all of these qualities.

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