By Arash Irandoost
It was in Iran that astronomy grew as a science and mathematics as an art; there chess was invented. Long before the Romans dared to venture out of Rome, Cyrus the Great declared the first charter of human rights in the world. Perhaps it is this rich history that inspires and motivates Iranians to rise up in defiance of a brutal regime.
Defying the Islamic republic has been thirty years in the making. It is a response to unimaginable cruelty and violence by a backward-thinking minority and an absurd and undemocratic system of caliphate and supreme leadership (Velayat-e-fagih) that views Iran as a conquered nation and Iranians as its dutiful subjects. Having been treated like second-class citizens in their own country, courageous Iranians have disowned this medieval system of government by emulating their national and epic heroes and taking lessons from their rich and proud history.
As much as one might geographically label Iran as part of the Middle East and statistically call it a Muslim country, Iranians believe that Islam was imposed on them by the sword and have resisted its intrusion by preserving their pre-Islamic identity. At risk of political incorrectness and despite the Islamic propaganda, it must be said that Iranians did not embrace Islam, since they perceived their culture, customs, civilization, and literature superior to those of their ill-educated, uncultured Muslim invaders. A British diplomat once said, "I lived amongst the Persians for thirty years and never saw a Muslim." The number of apostates is on the increase ever since the revolution.
For many Iranians, the revolution of 1979 was certainly a non-religious, anti-imperialistic movement in which "independence and freedom" were the key goals.
The revolution of 1979 was not an Islamist movement, and Iranians who participated in it did not envisage an Islamic form of government. They were longing for a progressive and secular system of government based on democratic principles. There were no previous references to an Islamic republic during the early stages of revolt. But soon the Islamists, led and encouraged by Khomeini and supported by the left, were uttering, "Independence, freedom and Islamic republic," without providing a clear definition of the term "Islamic."
The initial draft of the Iranian constitution was modeled after the French one and was a secular document without any reference to Velayat-e-fagih. Iranians were fooled to believe that the Islamic republic is a pious and democratic form of government. Aware of its illegitimacy and cognizant that mullahs were viewed by Iranians as incapable of running a nation's affairs, Islamist operatives kept their real motives cunningly vague until after the revolution.
As soon as the opportunity presented itself, the deceitful Islamists, with the help of their leftist compradors, radically altered the draft before its final ratification, injecting religious supremacy over people essentially to what it is today. The leftists were tricked by the promise of standard, classic leftist demands. Those who noticed the changes in the Constitution and dared to object were silenced and labeled as traitors (pro-West and counterrevolutionaries). In such a highly charged atmosphere, a non-republic Islamic Constitution was pushed through, ensuring the supremacy of very select religious few over the Iranian people.
But how could these so-called pious men of Islam morally justify their behavior or a document so contradictory to the wishes of the revolutionaries?
The truth is that the very concept of Velayat-e-fagih in the Constitution is being used to justify blatant human rights violations such as torture, rape, and murder. As conceived by Khomeini and embraced by the IRI leaders, the Velaya-e-fagih is given the absolute power to change or disregard anything he deems detrimental to the Islamic rule. Thus, raping virgin girls before hanging them; torturing and killing political prisoners; and defrauding elections are all justified for the "expediency" of the system. In such an ideologically driven climate, lying, stoning, shooting innocent demonstrators like Neda, threatening to wipe Israel off the map, and building a nuclear bomb have become religious duty -- virtuous deeds deserving of black-eyed virgins in the land of milk and honey. Sadly, many world leaders and international organizations, such as the UN and IAEA, are bamboozled and continue to remain silent and appease this repressive and corrupt regime.
Not only the promises of free housing and utilities by Khomeini are long forgotten, but Iran has been struggling economically by various misdirected policies: corruption is rampant, unemployment is at 25%, inflation hovers around 30% annually, and more than 50% of Iranians live below the poverty level in a nation with 80 billion dollars in annual oil revenues. Privatization and cutting off subsidies are Ahmadinejad's solutions for 30 years of incompetence.
IRGC, basijis, and members of the religious sector plunder the nation's natural resources and share it with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, while many Iranians sell their kidneys or prostitute their daughters so that their families make ends meet.
Nevertheless, over the past 30 years, the number of demonstrations opposing deteriorating living conditions -- and in the past four months, challenging the very essence and legitimacy of Velayat-e-fagih -- has grown steadily. We have witnessed student uprisings, worker and teacher strikes, ethnic uprisings, women and minority demonstrations. In the absence of reliable statistics, slogans have become a barometer of people's appetite for regime change. Cries of "where is my vote" have quickly escalated to the real aspirations of Iranians who are now demanding "independence, freedom, and Iranian republic!" and calling Khamenei an illegitimate leader and a criminal.
Iranians have earned world respect and gained much in their favor since the June 12th protests. The regime is facing a legitimacy crisis like never before. The Velayat-e-fagih is no longer considered as a God-sent pious figure but a corrupt and power-hungry dictator, a target of Iranian anger and frustration. Lackluster Mousavi is viewed as an inept and incomprehensible leader who now follows the movement and is no longer considered relevant. Like Khatami, Mousavi is viewed incapable of any meaningful reform.
As the world watches, brave Iranians are enduring reprehensible violence by the regime's thugs. But their spirits remain high. They have shown the ability to outmaneuver the ever-repressive regime and express their collective will as they take advantage of opportune events. Demands for freedom and democracy will manifest in various forms at opportune moments until final destination is reached. Then, as is destined, the god of light, Ahura Mazda, will prevail and rid Iran of evil, darkness, and deceit.
Dr. Arash Irandoost is a pro-democracy activist who advocates regime change in Iran. He blogs at http://hakemiat-e-mardom.blogspot.com.