Archive Sections: letters | music | index | features | photos | arts/lit | satire Find Iranian singles today!


XYZ Government
Readers offer their vision for Iran's future

July 16, 2003
The Iranian

The following is a compilation of your, readers, views for the future of Iran. Rather than reprint every email, I have tried to integrate your visions and your discussions of an alternative in one article. If you would like your email to appear separately in the Letters
section please let me or the editor know.

As is to be expected, there were some letters (and some messages on message boards) that chose once again to willfully ignore the obvious point that those who refuse to accept Reza Pahlavi as a viable leader for the future of Iran are not necessarily supporters of the current
government either. Although these responses were in the minority, in the spirit of fairness, I will reiterate them here.

The monarchist camp can be divided into two groups: Those that go about expressing their views through careful analysis and those who confuse badmouthing others with careful analysis. The latter is well known to 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 the future 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.

The key element in this view is that Iran, being an ethnically diverse country, and currently suffering from a lack of leadership, would benefit greatly from the unifying power of a figure head. Reza Pahlavi, thus, could fill that gap, since he is "the only opposition figure who has some international support."

And in the end, "if the support for the Crown Prince increases, as seems to be the case, it would be the first time in our history that the Iranians decide to put a Constitutional king on the peacock throne without foreign intervention."

Other readers believed that while it is true that we don't need a father figure "history has shown us that paradigm shift happened through leadership.

For example, shift in black movement happened through leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcom X, change in India was initiated by Gandhi etc." The reason behind this need for a powerful leader according to some people is that Iranians, contrary to some opinion, have not evolved enough politically for something more organic to emerge.

Several readers have pointed out that all the current discussions on Iran and the "secular democracy" plan have willfully ignored that Islam is and will continue to be part of the equation. Simply ignoring it by calling for a secular democracy will not make the fact that a great number of Iranians are Muslims go away.

Comparing the situation to Iraq, one reader asks: "I mean how could everyone say democracy should be allowed in Iraq, but not Islam?" In other words, if true democracy was allowed in Iran, would it take the form of a secular one or something with more religious overtones?

One of the other arguments for a strong leadership goes back precisely to 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 being Persians on the other side we have our commitment to Islam. Without a visionary leader that is committed to cross cultivate the two cultures, create a new common sense for our nation and re-establish alliances with the rest of the world without sacrificing our principles even if we change the existing government our future will be in the hands of others."

The solution set forth by these readers is the creation of "space for leaders to emerge by establishing small forums and advertising the forums publicly." This seems to fit quite well with Pedram Moallemian's June 25th suggestion for an Iranian National Convention (sent to me by one of the readers.)

Expressing frustration with the atmosphere of "mistrust and caution" among Iranian opposition, Mr. Moallemian suggests "a monthly or bi-monthly convention type of gathering, with ALL parties invited" with the expressed intention of moving away from vague ideas such as unity and towards more concrete plans. You can read more about the convention here.

Most of the readers, while sidestepping the issue of alternatives, made it very clear what they don't want: "Another bloody revolution." The idea of evolutionary change was the single strongest current in the letters sent to me in the past weeks.

One reader expanded on the idea: "I think Iran should evolve, and it comes about only through intellectual boxings of the likes of Akbar Ganji and Saeed Hajjarian (just to cite two of the noteworthy intellectuals that a new atmosphere in Iran has bred) and having their ideas spread, understood, analysed, critisized, and eventually bettered. The opposition has proved, during this quarter of a century, to be barren and inconsequential as far as the course of events 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 in their 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 of our lives.

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 and without fear of retribution. The US under current fear mongering atmosphere is not 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.

Democracy is when free enterprise is encouraged with strong government scrutiny.
Another presented some of the issues that he believes need to be included in a new Iranian constitution:

A federal state, with existing ostans. Powers to be separated as follows:

-- 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.
And another:

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 some local self-governance that is responsive to particular local ethnic or religious realities (w/out infringing upon individual freedoms/rights noted above).

What 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.

* Send this page to your friends

For letters section
To Naghmeh Sohrabi

* Advertising
* Support
* Reproduction
* Write for
* Editorial policy

By Naghmeh Sohrabi




Book of the day

The Future of Freedom
Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad
By Fareed Zakaria

Copyright 1995-2013, Iranian LLC.   |    User Agreement and Privacy Policy   |    Rights and Permissions