White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Category: Politics of Iran

In the past few weeks I have read, heard and watched a lot of talks about the current situation and future of Iran. The new Iranian parliament started to work couple of days ago and since conservatives have grabbed the parliamentary power again, most of these talks were affected with this new bitter reality.

First it was a collection of articles by New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristof who traveled to Iran and had a fairly comprehensive report from there. The bottom line of his report: Leave Iranians alone, open cultural exchanges between DC and Tehran and also open the doors for foreign investments in Iran. With no need of outside force, Iranians themselves will create a western democracy before it's created in Iraq. He's also created a collection of clips about important questions about Iranian revolution, position of Islam in society, etc. which are beautifully done and completely worth watching.

Also last week, I went to two events of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.
First it was a panel with the title of Post-Khatami Iran. A group of political and social activists such as Ramin Jahanbegloo, Abbas Milani, Shadi Sadr, Susan Tahmasbi, … talked about political, social and economic issues of the past 6-7 years and future days of Iran. The women movement was an important theme of the discussions. Maybe because that’s one of the few major achievements that have occurred during years of Khatami in power. As a matter of fact, all the political battlefield in the past few years, cleared the way for some of the social activisms such as the women right movements and social participation through NGOs. Conservatives who were quite busy with dealing more radical issues, had to retreat and be more relaxed about these types of developments.
The second event was a talk by Ms. Shirin Ebadi who is the winner of the most recent Noble peace prize. Contrary to my expectation, her talk was way bellow any standard presentation and I bet Ms. Ebadi did not spend more than 15 minutes for preparing this talk. The main theme of the talk was about her effort to battle Conservative Islamic rulings by presenting alternative view of Islam which is some how democratic. With all respect that I have for Ms. Ebadi and her cause and effort, I should admit that she’s not a good lecturer and doing these many talks (over 3 talks a week) is probably beyond her ability which will result only in damaging her image in the world.

What seems to be the bottom line of most of these views is that there is a major disappointment among Iranians both within and outside Iran because of the continuous loss of political reform. On the other side, the fairly liberal atmosphere of the past few years have clarified many major issues such as unemployment, addiction, poverty, lack of stability and hope for the future which will remain as major challenge for the conservative camp. Some of these issues specially those related to the young generation are very critical, which might result a social explosion any minute. It’s some how impossible that the country goes back to the situation that it had before Khatami. Rulers of Iran know that if people in 1997 showed their frustration by voting to Mr. Khatami, they will probably show their opposition through radical violent moves which might destruct the unity of the nation as whole! Although the conservative camp of Iran is deep in shit state of thought and strategy, but still I hope they show the minimum level of wisdom and do not move to a new direction of brutality against social and intellectual activities which is a political suicide for them!
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