FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iran and a Free Press

 

With the war in neighboring Iraq almost over, Iran’s conservative mullahs would desire nothing more than to see America stuck in the quagmire of establishing a democratic regime in Iraq. Keeping America preoccupied with juggling a number of hot potatoes in Iraq inhibits America from setting its target on them next.

Having no love for Saddam Hussein, who caused the death of more than 1 million Iranians and Iraqis, Tehran’s regime chose “active neutrality” in the course of the war. But neutrality will not be its policy in peace. That policy will change to active manipulation.

The conservative mullahs recognize that a democratic regime in Baghdad will almost certainly ensure their doom in Tehran. As such, they will do everything within their power to embarrass America and undermine her polices to promote democracy in Iraq.

America’s response should be to take the war to the mullahs. But not a hot war; rather, a war of ideas fought through satellite television. The Bush administration should place as much faith in America’s ideals as it has in America’s high tech, precision-guided missiles.

America’s ideals, if focused on a tyranny like a laser beam, can also bring about a regime change — and with significantly less collateral damage and unintended consequences. Even more importantly, such ideals are indispensable in establishing a stable and prosperous peace afterward, a task simply out of the range of destructive weapons, no matter how “smart” they may be.

Iran’s regime is ripe for change. Disillusionment with the conservative mullahs’ tyranny has engulfed the nation and has even created a schism among the previously united clergymen. Iran’s prisons are increasingly being packed with mullahs who have become utterly disillusioned by Iran’s theocracy. The theocracy has a special court specifically for its renegade mullahs. The accused mullahs do not even get the few rights the Iranian public has.

Iran’s highest ranking grand ayatollah, Hossein Montazeri, was only recently released due to health concerns, after years of house incarceration for questioning the regime’s brutality. At one point, he was second in line to succeed Khomeini, but was replaced once his liberal views became apparent.

Mohsen Kadivar, 44, a student of Montazeri, spent 18 months in prison for asserting that terrorism has no justification under Islamic law. He further argued: “Human rights supersede religion. Regardless of one’s religion or beliefs, people should have basic human rights — no one should be forced to migrate, be killed or tortured. There is no such thing as `Islamic human rights.'”

Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri recently resigned from his post as the Friday prayer leader in Esfahahn (Iran’s second largest city), a position he had held for more than two decades. His resignation letter was a scathing attack on the regime and its brutality, incompetence and corruption.

Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Mousavi-Tabrizi, a former chief prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court, stated: “The idea that only a select number of clerics have the right to make decisions for the masses is un-Islamic and illegal. God hasn’t given anyone an exclusive right to rule. If religion interferes in every detail of government, it will fail.”

A free press — not tanks and bullets — is the key to overthrowing the conservative mullahs in Iran and spreading democracy, tolerance and peace in the Middle East. A free press can undermine even the most repressive of dictatorships.

America should use its technology and financial means to promote a free press in Iran, including a satellite channel in Persian. Although the administration has taken some baby steps in this direction, they are not enough. A professionally run station with a fair and balanced coverage and mixed with some entertainment could help organize the Iranian people and diaspora living in the United States and Europe.

The disillusionment of even Iran’s once hard core mullahs — not to mention the Iranian people, students and women — with the country’s theocracy indicates that Islam is not incompatible with democracy. The Iranian people and a growing number of mullahs believe in the separation of mosque and state, a parliamentary government, elections, due process, etc.

The ingredients of a democratic society in Iran are almost in place. What is lacking is a free press. With America’s help, a free press will nail the coffin of Iran’s theocracy.

REZA LADJEVARDIAN, an Iranian-American, is a Houston-based writer. He can be reached at: rezalad@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail