As was expected not many people responded to Ganji's call for a hunger strike in defense of three political prisoners. This idea did not have the desired outcome for various reasons.
Not many people know Ganji and knowing about him alone does not necessarily mean many would agree or even sympathize with his views; whatever they may be. Many Iranians living outside Iran are too busy with their lives and are not concerned with such issues that Ganji raises. For them it is inconceivable to spend three days fasting for those with whom they cannot identify or haven't heard of at all.
Ganji does not seem to realize that there are people who do not care which group of politicians runs their country as long as they can lead a peaceful life. Not the peace that Ganji idealizes, but the peace of mind that has nothing to do with the issues raised in Ganji's writings or speeches. They hate provocation of any kind. They are interested in their own well being only and do not want to be troubled by the thought that someone gets a prize for his/her valour or somebody does not get fare treatment some place on the face of the earth. In short, they do not see life in political or ideological terms.
There is a huge gap between what Ganji considers of importance namely, transformation of cultural values in Iran and what Iranians living in other countries see as their top prorioties. Many left Iran a generation ago and have built different lifestyles in other countries. Culturally they would feel out of place in today's Iran after such a long absence. Their attachment to Iran is essentially a romantic one and they do not perceive the whole situation in a simplistic manner as Ganji would like to present it to them.
Many Iranian expatriates do not care to know who Kant is and what real or fake Islams are about. They want to live their lives undisturbed by such irrelavent ideas unworthy of their time and attention. Most expatriates escaped the Iranian situation mainly because they did not want to deal with the likes of Ganji-once a harbinger of death and destruction and now a global peacemaker-no matter what side they represent. They are fed up with turncoats of all kinds. Ganji reminds them of the situation in Iran after 1979 and the horrible times they went through.
The time when, whether you cared about politics or not, there was always somebody in your face telling you what was righ or wrong and how to live you life. Three days may not seem very long back in Iran, but in more technologically advanced societies people plan things much ahead of time.
Even if we assume there may have been people sympathetic to Ganji's cause, giving them a few weeks' notice is not enough understanding their busy schedules. There is not much trust in former memebers or supporters of the Isalmic government among most Iranian expatriates and it would take more than Ganji's jail term to convince them to pour into the streets of major cities of the world and demand the release of political prisoners.
For the past twenty-seven years and as a result of being displaced both physically and culturally many have suffered more than what Ganji has, allegedly, gone through. Some even consider the likes of Ganji agents provocateur whose only objectives are to disturb the hard-earned, peaceful and comfortable lives they have outside of Iran. There is no trust whatsoever in those who pose as saviors. What can Ganji or his ideas possibly offer them that they cannot get or do not already have?
Probably, another important factor for Iranian expats in not heeding Ganji's call which ended in an embarrassing failure of this highly symbolic gesture was that a large number of them want to travel back to Iran and they are not ready to compromise the luxury of enjoying their life abroad and visiting their relatives in Iran. This is understandable given the situation in Iran and the highly publicized nature of the hunger strike.
Also there are Iranians living abroad who still have their businesses in Iran and attending such gatherings might prove detrimental to maitaining their business interests there. Not all opposition groups agree with Ganji's strategy for a regime change. Very few people, if any at all, from among these groups are willing to bestow a leadership position upon him.
Though Ganji does not openly declare his real intention of wanting to enjoy such a role, this is quite obvious in his writings which carry all the hallmarks of an ambitious man seeking to transform the Iranian regime into a secular one by peaceful means. He claims that it is possible to achieve this great task without the presence of any liberal and democractic institutions that are essential for such transformation and could guarantee its maintenance afterward. He claims this can be achieved by only having homes and schools that can offer better education, as if families and schools are institutions that can be detached from the rest of the social institutions.
Every now and then he denies cherishing any political or leadership ambitions. His ferrocious attack on all opposition groups abroad, especially those who are for a regime change through violent means prove otherwise. Sometimes implied and at times overt, his criticism is a clever ploy to divert attention from his real aims, leaving no opposition group immune. He has the stage now, so he uses it to lash out at those who hold different views from him. And this is from an intellectual who, on page three of his Third Manifest, syas, “We should not see our views as superior to those of others.” Then he ceases the moral high ground and chastises other groups and organizations for their unforgivable mistakes.
When, in number nine of his Fundamentals of the Movement for Democratic Transformation in Iran, he asserts, “We are to blame. (az maust ke bar maust.)” he is ideed, hypocritically, putting the blame on others and not himself. How can anyone blame him for anything. After all he is the one proposing these theories. In fact, he makes believe he has paid his dues and that is why he is getting the kind of attention he has been receiving so far among different circles.
Ganji does not need to mention the fact that one of the mistakes many Iranian opposition groups made was that in their fervor to criticize the Iranian regime they inadvertently rose in his support without having a clear understanding of who he is and what his ideological and political objectives are. They made his case known to the rest of the world to the extent that the U. S. president, Geoerge Bush called for his unconditional release from prison.
Some even consciously overlooked Ganji's ideological flaws and ambiguous and inconsistent theories simply because they could use Ganji's case to unleash their attcks on the regime in Iran. It did not take long for those groups to realize they were barking at the wrong tree. Most Iranians abroad have become naturalized citizens of the countries where they live and have been sworn in as such.
Given the sensitivity of the Iranian situation at the moment and Ganji's brand of Islam, there are Iranians who prefer not to be seen as sympathetic toward a cause that may entail misunderstandings among people they work or associate with. By rising in defense of only three political prisoners, Ganji, in his own hypocritical way, tried to disavow any knowledge of other prisoners of conscience. Perhaps it meant as a disclaimer before leaving Iran.
This was the biggest blow to his call for a hunger strike. He alienated many groups which had called for his unconditional release from jail. By doing this he was trying to show that he did not want to be identified with certain so-called revolutionary or terrorist groups or any other opposition groups that might have ideological differences with him. This was a conscious distinction that, due to his inconsistent views, he would like to see recognized, but cannot afford at the moment. Later on he called for the release of others as well. This call came too late and he had isolated himself already.
Last but not least, many Iranians did not know whether they ought to believe Ganji's theories or accept his invitation to join the hunger strike. On page three of his Third Manifest when talking about what he calls, “Negation of Ideological Totalitarianism” Ganji states that, “No one has the right to impose his/her views in this realm and what he/she considers pain or suffering should not be seen as the cause of another person's pain and suffering.” Of course, this includes intellectuals as well. And he says this after he has already said that, “The goal of politics and itellectualism is that of alleviating pains and sufferings of humanity.”
Perhaps, he should have acted accordingly and had done as he rcommends to the rest of the world. He should not have imposed his idea of a hunger strike before having talked to all Iranians living abroad and in Iran to find out if they felt any pain or suffering as a result of the fate of three Iranians in prison. A task that even Ganji may find impossible.