Readers offer their vision for Iran's future
July 16, 2003
The following is a compilation of your, Iranian.com readers, views
future of Iran. Rather than reprint every email, I have tried to
integrate your visions and your discussions of an alternative in
article. If you would like your email to appear separately in the
section please let me or the editor know.
As is to be expected, there were some letters (and some messages
message boards) that chose once again to willfully ignore the obvious
point that those who refuse to accept Reza Pahlavi as a viable
the future of Iran are not necessarily supporters of the current
government either. Although these responses were in the minority,
spirit of fairness, I will reiterate them here.
The monarchist camp can be divided into two groups: Those that
expressing their views through careful analysis and those who confuse
badmouthing others with careful analysis. The latter is well known
everyone who's dared have what resembled a conversation with any
of them. The former seems to be less vocal.
In the case of those who present their view of a monarchy for
of Iran, the consensus is that it should be a Constitutional Monarchy.
Their reasons are based on both the history of Iran and of other
countries, such as Spain, for whom a monarchy seems to have worked.
key element in this view is that Iran, being an ethnically diverse
country, and currently suffering from a lack of leadership, would
greatly from the unifying power of a figure head. Reza Pahlavi,
could fill that gap, since he is "the only opposition figure
who has some
And in the end, "if the support
for the Crown
Prince increases, as seems to be the case, it would be the first
our history that the Iranians decide to put a Constitutional king
peacock throne without foreign intervention."
Other readers believed that while it is true that we don't need
figure "history has shown us that paradigm shift happened
For example, shift in black
movement happened through leaders such as Martin Luther King and
change in India was initiated by Gandhi etc." The reason behind
for a powerful leader according to some people is that Iranians,
to some opinion, have not evolved enough politically for something
organic to emerge.
Several readers have pointed out that all the current discussions
and the "secular democracy" plan have willfully ignored
that Islam is and
will continue to be part of the equation. Simply ignoring it by
for a secular democracy will not make the fact that a great number
Iranians are Muslims go away.
Comparing the situation to Iraq,
asks: "I mean how could everyone say democracy should be allowed
but not Islam?" In other words, if true democracy was allowed
would it take the form of a secular one or something with more
One of the other arguments for a strong leadership goes back
the religion question. As one reader put it: "As a nation
we are like a
coin. On one side we have our 2500 years of glorious history of
Persians on the other side we have our commitment to Islam. Without
visionary leader that is committed to cross cultivate
the two cultures, create a new common sense for our nation and
alliances with the rest of the world without sacrificing our principles
if we change the existing government our future will be in the
The solution set forth by these readers is the creation of "space
leaders to emerge by establishing small forums and advertising
publicly." This seems to fit quite well with Pedram Moallemian's
suggestion for an Iranian National Convention (sent to me by one
Expressing frustration with the atmosphere of "mistrust
caution" among Iranian opposition, Mr. Moallemian suggests "a
bi-monthly convention type of gathering, with ALL parties invited" with
the expressed intention of moving away from vague ideas such as
towards more concrete plans. You can read more about the convention
Most of the readers, while sidestepping the issue of alternatives,
very clear what they don't want: "Another bloody revolution." The
of evolutionary change was the single strongest current in the
sent to me in the past weeks.
One reader expanded on the idea: "I
Iran should evolve, and it comes about only through intellectual
of the likes of Akbar Ganji and Saeed Hajjarian (just to cite two
noteworthy intellectuals that a new atmosphere in Iran has bred)
having their ideas spread, understood, analysed, critisized, and
eventually bettered. The opposition has proved, during this quarter
century, to be barren and inconsequential as far as the course
in Iran is concerned."
Most importantly, a handful of the readers
took the time to give concrete
definition of democracy and freedom. I will reprint their views
entirety for obvious reasons.
One reader defined democracy as followed:
Democracy is when State and Religion are totally separated.
The US is not a good example.
Democracy is when men and women are totally equal in all aspects
Democracy is when government is elected by majority of voters.
The US under its current laws is not a good example.
Democracy is when minorities can express themselves freely
fear of retribution. The US under current fear mongering atmosphere
a good example.
Democracy is when minorities choose to express their
ideas and criticisms
within the frame work of majority rules. The US is a good example.
Democracy is when multi-party system becomes the voice of
their constituents. The US is not a good example.
Democracy is when science and technology is nurtured and encourage.
The US under current administration is not a good example.
when free enterprise is encouraged with strong government scrutiny.
Another presented some of the issues that he believes need to be
in a new Iranian constitution:
A federal state, with existing ostans. Powers to be separated
-- Education: federal: a core national curriculum + state:
a local curriculum
-- Armed Forces, foreign affairs: federal
-- Right to natural resources: federal, all money to go in a national
endowment, revenues from which will help finance education, infrastucture
and health care exclusively.
-- Federal and state budgets to be raised exclusively through taxation.
-- No monopolies for the government
-- Police: state and city
-- Executive = a president elected by direct national referendum
every five years, only one term allowed
-- Senate (8-year terms), Parliament (3-year terms) = pass laws
that restrict or direct the executive, must review executive decisions
-- Constitutional Court, federal judicial system, federal and state
laws depending on the topic
-- Rights: right to property, religious freedom, freedom of speech,
freedom of assembly, freedom of trade and movement within the nation,
-- Vision: a statement of responsibilty and solidarity
between all the people of Iran, a statement of unity of the people
of Iran in the preservation
of their independence and freedoms, and in their efforts towards
prosperity and positive contribution to humanity.
1) Given Iran's history, the next constitution or system
of government should grant explicit
freedoms of attire and artistic expression (this along with all
the other "standard" freedoms
of expression, religion, and protections like the right to
property, privacy and so on)
2) A balanced system of government
without a "supreme" authority.
Even the most
powerful political offices need to be answerable to some
process of oversight,
regulation or election.
3) A more decentralized form of government
that allows there to be
self-governance that is responsive to particular local ethnic
religious realities (w/out
infringing upon individual freedoms/rights noted above).
do you think of
the alternatives presented above? Do you agree?
Disagree? How would you improve on the analysis and solutions presented by
other readers? Keep your answers coming.
this page to your friends