Freedom -- for some?
Kristin Aileen Motlagh
I find the survey results on the expectations from President Khatami's government quite disturbing. There are major inconsistencies regarding the voting patterns of those who responded. Let me just point out the following:
1. "Protection of Individual Freedom" was considered the highest priority by the majority of the respondents, with a total of 80% positive votes. But compare this to only a 56.4% of highest priority responses for "Free all those jailed for political or religious reasons". That's a difference of 23.6%. It seems that 23.6% of the respondents do not consider political or religious freedom as an individual freedom.
2. Let's compare again the highest priority, "Protection of Individual Freedom", with "Stopping the religious persecution of Bahais". As stated before, "Protection of Individual Freedom" received 80% of the vote for highest priority. "Stopping the religious persecution of Bahais" received only 50.9 % of the vote for highest priority. Are 29.1% of the respondents saying that Bahai's do not deserve individual freedom? Or do these 29.1% consider the right to choose and practice any religion as not being an individual freedom?
3. Now let's look at 65.4 % of the highest priority responses for "Stopping state intervention in people's personal lives" as compared to only 22.7% highest priority responses for "Reducing restrictions for women seeking divorce". Is divorce not a matter of one's own personal life? For whatever reason, apparently 42.7% of the respondents do not think so.
4. Looking again at the issue of "Reducing restrictions for women seeking divorce", I refer you to the 72.7% highest priority responses for "Ensuring freedoms for the media, writers, artists, publishers, filmmakers". Although they are not exactly the same issue, they both deal with individual freedoms (80% highest priority, see above). You can't have it all! If you want to ease up on the media, but yet still keep a tight watch on your women, you are being hypocritical. I would be interested in knowing how many of the respondents were men. There is a big gap in responses here, 50% to be exact.
5. Now let's look at 72.7% of the highest priority responses for "Ensuring freedoms for the media, writers, artists, publishers, filmmakers" and also, 69.1 % highest priority responses for "Stopping state-approved killing of political opponents" and compare this with the issue of "Distancing the government from the fatwa against Salman Rushdie", which only had 30.9% of the respondents voting it as highest priority. 41.8% of you must not consider Salman Rushdie a writer, otherwise, I would think that he would fall into this category. And, although Salman Rushdie is not a true political opponent, he could be viewed as such, but 38.2% of you don't seem to care whether or not he is killed for exercising what should be his freedom to express his views through writing.
6. I also find it quite unsettling that only 24.5% of you consider it a highest priority to "Return properties unjustly confiscated after the 1979 revolution". If the other 75.5% of you had your properties confiscated, would you not want them back? Would you not want to be compensated? Should it not be an individual freedom to own property regardless of religion, sex, political affiliation, or occupation?
I realize that I have only focused on highest priority responses. I did this for two reasons:
a.) If Khatami or others in the government were to look at this they would most likely focus only on the highest priority issues. b.) It is difficult to compare results when there are five possible responses for each topic.
Which also addresses another concern of mine. How can we expect a government to change social policy, when we ourselves are hypocritical in our voting responses? When we ourselves only uphold freedom when it benefits us and not others. If you believe in freedom, believe in it for all people regardless of their religion, sex, political affiliation, occupation, or race.
And I would hope that Islamic arguments would not be posted in response to this, as 71.8 % of the respondents felt that "Spreading the message of Islam" was not a priority.