need a break, for good
Khalil Maleki's letter to Mohammad
Mossadegh and the godless road ahead
By Jahanshah Javid
August 19, 2003
It's hard to
believe that less than three decades ago, religion had no meaningful
Nor was religion perceived as a serious political
force in any other
country with a Muslim population. From monarchs to socialists,
secularism reigned supreme. So what happened?
Maleki's letter [in
Persian] to his mentor Mohammad Mossadegh in March of 1963.
Maleki, a leading opposition figure and well-respected social-democrat,
the emergence of religious politics, but
in describing the hopelessness
the secular opposition, he draws a sad picture of the
dying days of secular, non-violent political thought and action.
While Maleki offers solutions to revive the fortunes
of the battered nationalist movement, political Islam had already
the scene with Ayatollah
fiery public speeches against the Shah -- a radical, confrontational
tactic alien to Maleki and other moderate, secular politicians.
We all know the rest of the story. It's the same
story that has been repeating in many countries where the majority
of the population are Muslim. Autocratic
secular governments -- many
backed by the US -- refuse to introduce or expand democratic institutions.
They prevent efforts by the secular opposition to bring
about peaceful change, leaving the disenfranchised and frustrated
but to gravitate towards religious extremism as the only means of
But reading Naamehaaye
Khalil Maleki ("Khalil Maleki's Letters", Tehran,
Nashr-e Markaz, 2002) edited by Amir Pishdad and Homa Katouzian,
depressing as one might think. It has lessons and ideas more relevant
our current problems.
Maleki's letters remind us of the lost art
of liberal, non-violent, party politics. He criticizes some and
others, but he does not promote physical elimination, not even
of his worst enemy, the Shah. He calls on his colleagues
to be flexible, move forward a step at a time, form alliances,
put aside petty differences,
refrain from posturing and sloganeering, and formulate sensible
A lot has changed since 1963. Today religion and
secularism have traded places. Back then, secular politics was
a spent force and Mossadegh was virtually forgotten ten
years after an American-led coup stripped him from power and ended
short experiment with democracy.
on this 50th anniversary of the coup, secularism
of a self-destructive theocracy and Mossadegh
is more revered than ever. But this remarkable secular revival
of his and Maleki's moderate, liberal brand of politics.
forces, even the Pahlavis, have gained ground against a religious
establishment that has lost the hearts and minds of every
sector of society, including the great majority of the faithful
really is compassionate and merciful,
and not the perpetual vengeful tyrant the
Islamic Republic wants us to worship.
sending God back where he belongs, enshallah. But godless
is not goodness. Will we be merciful, or vengeful; democratic,
of freedom and human rights, or just turbanless
We have always, always ended up being cruel to
each other. Let's
ourselves a break, for good >>> Maleki's
letter to Mossadegh
Khalil Maleki" from the publisher: firstname.lastname@example.org
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