There is another Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is slated to make his annual visit to New York to address the UN on Sept. 23, 2009. If there ever were a time for us Iranian-Americans to come together to demonstrate to the world our outrage and contempt for his government, it is surely now. It is important that we do this especially because the movement to protest election fraud and civil rights abuse in Iran has been brutally suppressed.

The reform movement in Iran is in shackles and behind bars. Armed with the Sepah, Basij and plain-clothes forces the Ahmadinejad government has arrested our leaders, intellectuals, activists and students. Many have been killed, tortured and raped. All publications that reported about and criticized the government and its abusive ways have been shut down. The coup d’état regime has raided offices and party headquarters to get rid of evidence gathered against it.

That is why we, who enjoy freedom outside the motherland, have to stand up and defend our reform and freedom-seeking compatriots. The more they are silenced, the more it is up to us to speak up about their cause, our cause, of freedom and respect for civil liberties in Iran. To show our outrage at what has happened in Iran is our right, indeed our duty. We, who claim to love that land, to love what is good about it, to love her history, her culture, her food, her poetry and her wonderfully diverse people, we need to show our love, not just utter it. We need to go to New York and show the world how many we are. We need to go to New York stand in front of the UN headquarters and show the world that there is another Iran.

There is an Iran who seeks freedom and justice, one who is caring and compassionate, one who rejects Ahmadinejad, Khamenei and the IRGC. We inside and outside Iran are that Iran, the Iran who has no arms, no one holy book, who is not even united under one ideology or religion but an Iran who is compassionate, fair and forward thinking. An Iran who wants to move on. An Iran who wants to move out of the byzantine labyrinth of religious dictatorship, an Iran who wants to send its bright youth to schools and universities where they can learn in peace and freedom. We ARE that Iran and those of us who are outside, who enjoy the freedom that our compatriots inside are systematically denied, need to stand up for that Iran.

We need to stand up for this other Iran that exists in all our hearts. This Iran that, though it may not have physical reality, does have a long history. This fair, kind, friendly and free Iran we have all held inside us for too long. This Iran whose physical manifestation has always been denied us, but whose spiritual presence all of us not only feel but represent. We are those Iranians the world has come to know because of our presence in the four corners of the globe since we started to take refuge from the Islamic Republic at its very inception 30 years ago. Our numbers only keep getting bigger.

We teach in schools and universities, conduct research at global institutions, work at nightclubs and restaurants, drive taxis, run multinational companies and drive kids to soccer practice. Regardless of our backgrounds or our political leanings or religious beliefs we are all hardworking, honest, fair and democratic citizens of the globe. We need to stand by our like-minded brothers, sisters and children crowding the prisons and medieval dungeons of Iran. We need to stand by our compatriots who have been muzzled by fear. We need to show the world and our compatriots in Iran that this other Iran, this Iran of a great people, this Iran whose savage violation everyone just witnessed is not going to remain silent. We have to show that our collective anger can and will bring this regime of hypocrites, liars and murderers to it heels.

We don’t need anyone to bomb us or sanction us into poverty to bring an end to this mess we have gotten ourselves into. We are a great people, an educated hardworking people, and we know how to self-correct. Let’s show we know when to unite, how to resist, how to persevere. We need to let the world know that we may not be armed with weapons but we are armed with a solid sense of identity and where we want to go from here. We simply want respect for our humanity, respect for our civil rights. We want freedom of the most basic variety.

Regardless of stripe or political persuasion, we have to stop the bickering and see what we have in common: our hatred of the Ahmadinejad government and our firm belief in respect for civil and human rights. Whether Zionist or pro-Palestinian, Republican or Democrat, socialist or liberal, we have to come together and show our compatriots in Iran and the international community that there is another Iran. We have to show the world, and more importantly ourselves, that there is another Iran, an Iran that is fair and free — an Iran that lives in every single one of our hearts. An Iran that is waiting to be born.

This essay was first pubished in

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