12. Lobbyists, Human Rights and Islamism
In March 15, 1994, on SCI soc.culture.iranian Usenet newsgroup, I wrote an article entitled "Stop Stoning Iranian Women". This article led to the formation of IHRWG-Iranian Human Rights Working Group.
Now looking back, I would say if I was writing this article today, surely I would not write it the same way, but the gist of it would be the same, and in fact it proved to be true that the campaign for stopping stoning, and other similar barbaric practices of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), even within the IRI, was possible, and this is what five years later, moderates of this very system itself, the journalists of "Zan" magazine in Iran, were trying to do, when asking for ending this barbaric practice of stoning, using religious arguments, before getting shut down. And finally in response to international pressure after the EU talks, the stoning practice was stopped in Iran, albeit still not removed from the IRI laws.
Nonetheless, today it is not enough to ask for ending these practices within the theocracy of Islamic Republic of Iran. There is now no doubt for the Iranian people that no reform within the theocratic system of Islamic Republic of Iran can end the human rights abuses in Iran. IRI is not a state like South Africa that one could remove apartheid against the other religions and women to achieve democracy. The whole constitution of IRI theocracy is anti-democratic and against human rights.
And it is all evident that the religious state, theocracy itself, must be ended, and should be replaced with a secular democratic republic of Iran. Anything short of this is not conducive to democracy and realization of human rights in Iran. Theocracy should be put to a referendum in Iran and be *voted out*.
Asking for separation of state and religion is not just a theoretical conclusion today. It is the result of 20 years of religious apartheid in Iran, that Iranian people have experienced with their life, and they do not want a mollah government anymore, and want the separation of state and religion, and a democratic and progressive government, that can guarantee the human rights and progress of Iran, as humanity enters the 21st Century.
In the past ten years, I challenged those who were asking for unconditional removal of sanctions; and all I asked for, was to put a human rights condition for any removal of sanctions, but the IRI apologists made rumors calling me MKO sympathizer, etc, and making all kinds of personal attacks on me, simply because I consider their pseudo anti-aggression stand, as playing in the hands of Islamic Republic, which tries to show itself as an anti-imperialist underdog, when in 1981 and 1988 massacred the Iranian opposition, by the director order of IRI leader that IRI lobbyists want to talk sense to.
I am glad that after the recent students uprisings, many former IRI apologists have become more responsive about the human rights issues in Iran, and actually the position of the EU countries that they support today, is all that I was asking for in those days, when I asked for connecting human rights conditions to the removal of sanctions, and it sounded like such a heresy to them in those days.
The IRI apologists unabashedly posted the news of hezbollAhi demonstrations in Tehran, on their so-called independent news websites, and used headlines like “Iranians take to the streets in nation-wide anti-US protest " when describing hezbollAhi government demonstrations in Tehran. Did hezbollAhi agents represent Iranians? If Iranians had the freedom to go to the streets, they would demand a referendum to replace Islamic Republic with a democratic futurist republic, and anti-Islamic Republic protests would sweep all over Iran.
Since the murder of thousands of innocent people by the Islamist terrorists on Sept 11 in the U.S., the IRI apologists’ websites tried their best to show the stands of Islamic Republic as the wishes of Iranian people, and tried not to mention a word about the terrorist actions of Islamists, such as the terror of Kasravi, Bakhtiar, Ghasemloo, and Foruhars or the death threat of Islamic Republic leaders against Salman Rushdie and others.
This is at the time when the world public opinion was the most receptive about the issue of terrorism, and the IRI apologists try to silence the real voice of Iranian people, the people who have suffered the most by the Islamic Republic’s terrorism for over two decades. The magazines and news sites of Islamic Republic apologists tried to depict a picture that whoever does not support Islamic Republic is with the imperialists, MKO, or Reza Pahlavi, and they used this fallacy to get many honest authors to become lukewarm towards Islamic Republic.
IRI apologists did the same thing during the bloody Iran-Iraq war. True that Iranian people never like the ones like MKO who collaborated with Iraq, but at the same time, Iranian people did not support the Islamist Fascists either. Islamic Republic is the bastion of Islamic fascism in the Middle East and the world, and trying to show Iranian people as supporters of this murderous regime is the worst any news service can do.
These magazines and news sites whitewashed the murders of all the brave people like Bakhtiar and 1988 political prisoners, and did not have the honesty of even a standard news service to reflect the positions of the ones who stood up for democracy and progress against the Islamic Republic in the last two decades. They never mentioned anything about the 1988 IRI massacres of political prisoners. No matter what justification they use for their pseudo-journalism, they are in the footsteps of the lobbyist groups who are either agents or naïve supporters of the murderous regime of Islamic Republic of Iran.
Of course today the students movement is asking for secularism and these sites have just arrived at asking for human rights within the Islamic Democracy oxymoron which they support. Also not all these groups and individuals were IRI agents and many of them just cared about fighting the discrimination of US against Iranians on issues like fingerprinting. But the leaders of these groups are basically related to IRI although on surface they are independent and even some of them do not say openly that they are IRI lobbyists but they have worked with the lobbyists all these years.
Among the HR organizations, only MEHR.ORG of Dr. Mohammad Parvin has been well aware of this issue, and this is why he has been under constant attack by IRI lobbyists. The real Iran lobbyists are people like Dr. Parvin and MEHR, who in a way lobby for Iran and Iranians, and if they can create a voting block, they can really impact the US stand on IRI, and effectively defend the rights of Iranians abroad, at times like the recent discriminations in the U.S. against the immigrants.
Real Iran lobbyists are *not* those who work for IRI, but shed crocodile tears for Iranians fingerprinted, and they use all their lawyers and other means to attack and hurt opponents of IRI, and have a gossip factory against those who have challenged their lobbyist activities all these years, by calling their opponents as MKO, etc. Everybody knows that IRI which supports terrorists and has murdered many dissidents like Bakhtiar during all these years, is the real reason why Iranians have to deal with all these discriminations in the first place.
Thus it is noteworthy to remember that these kinds of issues are very significant for an Iranian who cares about future and futurist view, and futurism is not just about forecasting and analysis of trends. For example, we should stop the Western press from using terms like Iran or Iranian lobbyists, instead of IRI and IRI lobbyists, when referring to Islamic Republic and such organizations. They should call these pro-IRI groups, IRI lobbyists which they are, and also we should ask the press to stop using the words Iran and Iranian when referring to IRI and IRI reps.
Of course those active inside Iran, are forced not to take a clear position on IRI and they are not the ones I am discussing here. They cannot do otherwise because of working in open in Iran, although they do not mislead Iranians into justifying IRI. But abroad, those who for years have consciously justified and lobbied for IRI are a whole different matter.
It is so upsetting when I see headlines saying "Iranians rally for Hezbollah in Tehran" when the rally has been an IRI rally by its paid basijis. The correct headline should be written as "IRI supporters rally for Hezbollah in Tehran". These are all important to highlight the human rights issues, and the fact that IRI is not a representative of Iranian people.
The crimes against humanity of supporters of Islamic Apartheid and their attacks on progress and human rights, has not started with their brutal terrorist attack on World Trade Center in New York. It has been going on for a long time and the West had heard it loud and clear the first time, with the fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini to kill the author Salman Rushdie, because of Salman Rushdie’s book opposing Islam.
Islamic Apartheid has been trying to lynch Salman Rushdie for over a decade before Sept 11th, and the West basically was appeasing IRI. Even though Iranian government distanced itself from the fatwa, but the terrorists in Iran openly collected bounty money to kill Salman Rushdie, and nobody in the Western governments took those seriously to stop those open acts of terrorism to hire hitman to kill an innocent writer in the West.
The Islamic Apartheid has slaughtered many of its opponents such as Shahpour Bakhtiar and Abdol-Rahman Boroumand, in cold blood, while basically the West stayed silent and did not take any drastic action, not wanting to risk a change in the status quo of the Middle East, where only the safe flow of oil from that region, was all that the Western states cared for. Likewise the atrocities of another state of Islamic Apartheid, the Islamic Fundamentalist regime of Taliban in Afghanistan, was known for a long time. But instead of condemning them for crimes against humanity, they were appeased for a long time, year after year.
The atrocities of Islamic Apartheid has been around long before they took power in Iran in 1979 Revolution. The fatwa to kill Ahmad Kasravi, by the mullahs in 1950’s was the best example of their resorting to murder to silence their opponents, the opponents who called for progressive society in the Middle East. Ahmad Kasravi, a progressive author in Iran, not having much security, long before Islamic Republic, was easily murdered by the Islamic Apartheid terrorists. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the Islamic Apartheid has not been any different..
The main supporter of the U.S. government in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, is a fundamentalist Islamic state, which openly discriminates against followers of other religions such as the Jews, and justifies the stone-age Islamic punishments of beheading and stoning, and discriminates against women . In fact, many of these countries have religious authorities, who supported Khomeini's murder fatwa against Salman Rushdie, but one seldom hears about it, because they are supporters of the U.S.
Things changed after Sept 11th. Regardless of what various governments did in response to the WTC bombing, one thing was certain, that the Islamic Apartheid lost its legitimacy with the heinous atrocity of World Trade Center in New York. Islamic fanatics could no longer pretend as victims anymore. The victim game that the Islamic Republic and its agents had played for so long, while committing the crimes against humanity, would not work anymore, to get the support of some pseudo-intellectuals in the West, fond of Cultural Relativism. Their terror against the dissidents such as Bakhtiar in the West, could not be written off, as so-called actions against imperialism anymore.
Iranian government allowing terrorists to freely collect money and plan for the murder of Salman Rushdie cannot be acceptable anymore. When world opinion would hear of stoning of a porn movie star in Iran, or killing Foruhars and writers for their ideas inside Iran, which happened and were ignored before Sept 11th, one would now ask about what Islamic Apartheid is doing to humanity. Yes, their gesturing of defending themselves against the imperialists, and showing themselves as victims, does not cut it anymore.
The bombing of WTC by supporters of Islamism was equivalent to the burning of Jews in concentration camps by the Fascists, when after the publicity of their atrocities, they lost their legitimacy, and could no longer justify their murderous ideology, under the cloak of combating decadence.
Finally it is very sad that the Middle Eastern people are being attacked as Islamic fanatics in the West. Majority of the people of Middle East, in countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as the Middle Easterners abroad, are the ones who have opposed the Islamic Apartheid more than all the Western people and states, and they have made many sacrifices in their challenge of Islamic Apartheid. Among them, dissidents like Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar in Paris and Foruhars in Tehran who gave their lives in standing up for human rights in Iran.
There is no doubt that the real force of retrogression in the Middle East is Islamism, whether in the form of retrogressive Islamic ideologies of Islamic fanatics in Iran, or the Islamic Fundamentalism of Taliban and Saudi Arabia, and these Dark Forces of retrogression should be challenged by all progressive-minded people all over the world.
In 1998, I wrote an article entitled "Using Freedom to Kill Freedom" to describe the actions of Islamists in Iran, when there was a partial democracy right after the 1979 Revolution, and how the Islamists used freedom of those days, to intimidate and attack women and democratic groups, to establish their power in Iran.
In April 2003 right after the fall of Saddam's regime in Iraq, the heinous murder of Ayatollah Khoi, who had just returned to Iraq happened, because he opposed the Islamists and stood for separation of state and religion, and the crime reminded me of the same intimidation Islamist dark forces had done in Iran, before they established their rule, using fatwa killing and street attacks on the democratic forces, to scare the opposition to choose appeasement of them, and finally to rule the country unchallenged.
I remember the first weeks after the 1979 Revolution in Iran, when the women had a demonstration for their rights, and these Islamists, acting as if they were the voice of the disadvantaged, would run on the streets, attacking the women with slogans like "yA roosari, yA toosari" (either cover your head with a scarf or get hit on your head).
I vividly remember those days in Tehran, when many in the Iranian democratic opposition, made a big mistake, thinking of Islamists and their tactics, as the aspirations of Iranian working people, and thus called such intimidations and attacks, as the voice of Iranian people, and advised the people not to resist it, and this is how they appeased these dark forces, and the Islamists succeeded in their attacks on women and democratic forces, and in winning full power in Iran.
The result was that after the women, it was the various opposition forces that got the same treatment by the Islamists, and were eliminated from the political scene of Iran, and then they continued their intimidations by the terror of Shahpour Bakhtiar in Paris and murdered Kurdish leaders in Europe, and finally back to Iran, they slaughtered legal opposition figures Forouhars, in Tehran. This is how the rule of Islamists was established in Iran.
Islamists' record of intimidation and cold-blooded murder is not much different from Stalinism and Nazism. Many Iranians are scared, even when living abroad, to speak up about the atrocities of Islamists. Steven Emerson has written his experiences of how he had been intimidated by the Islamists, when being a U.S. native citizen, and living right in the U.S., and the number of times he had gotten death threats to stop him from his opposition to Islamism. When they do this even in the West, then one can imagine how they act in a country like Iraq, to intimidate the democratic forces.
Also the IRI lobbyists in the West, using their money and their hired lawyers, have tried to pressure the opponents of Islamic Republic, using an independent facade, trying to close the Internet sites of the dissidents in the U.S., using fake personal charges.
Today the Islamists have started doing what they had done with Iranian opposition, now in Iraq. The heinous murder of Ayatollah Khoi, a Shi'a Ayatollah who was against them, was to show that they would not even spare people from the ranks of Shi'a clergy. This is not their way of showing force, but this is their way of showing their brutality and cruelty, which is continuing today by murdering ordinary people, to scare the opposition and secure position in the future state of Iraq.
What Iranians have learned, in a very tough lesson of over two decades, is that giving in to the Islamists, will not stop them, and they will do more. They even killed Iranian intellectual Ahmad Kasravi, during the Shah's regime, long before coming to power, because Shah's regime, as well as some forces of Iranian opposition, tried to appease the Islamists.
I have seen that even in the West, how Islamists used freedom to kill freedom , by profanity, intimidation, and death threats, even on the Internet, to shut those who opposed Islamism. They even maimed one Iranian comedian in Los Angeles, during a street demonstration, a few years ago.
The answer to their intimidations, and their use of freedom to kill freedom, is not to curtail freedom and democracy, but the answer is to protect democracy. The answer is to make sure when they break the law, they are punished accordingly. In other words, if they set up a demonstration and attack people, or if they come and attack democratic gatherings, they should be arrested.
If they make death threats, they should be investigated and those from the high-level clergy, who have issued the kill fatwa, should be also arrested and prosecuted in a court of justice. Their money sources, that is khoms and zakAt, which is received by Ayatollahs from the Muslims, must be taxed, and if they evade to pay taxes of these religious dues, they should be treated according to the law. And if their religious money resources is used to pay for hit-men, the accounts must be blocked, and their religious constituency informed about it.
The Islamists should be allowed to have rallies and demonstrations, as long as they are not using threats with guns or sticks, and are not making death threats or attack others, in other words, as long as they are civil.
But any intimidation and attacks by them on women, democratic groups, or individuals, should be severely punished. If they attack democratic newspaper offices, which is what they always did in Iran in the years of semi-democracy in 1941-53 and 1979-1981, to stop the people from gaining secular knowledge, they should be arrested and stopped, rather than allowing them to do such attacks in the name of working people.
Ordinary people do not do these actions, and these thugs, who act as ordinary people, are paid and supported by high-level Islamist clergy, who issue religious decrees (fatwas) to hit and kill opponents, and they should not be appeased, and must be stopped by the secular democratic state, or they will wipe out the secular democratic state, whether in Iran, Iraq, or Afghanestan.
The mistake of the interim government of Iran, after the revolution of 1979, was that it caved in to the intimidations of Islamists, and in less than a year, the Islamists were controlling everything. The interim government of Afghanistan, after so many years of Taleban's dark rule, still caved in to the Islamists, and called the secular state of Afghanistan, an Islamic government, and they kept the power of Islamists in the judiciary intact.
The secular people of the Middle East, are now looking at how the Islamists will be dealt with in Iraq, and whether the winner will be democracy; or the Islamism will be allowed once again, to use freedom to kill freedom.
At the beginning of Iraq War, a discussion had opened up in the intellectual circles as to whether appeasing Saddam Hussein was like Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler, and why Saddam's regime must have been overthrown, before it becomes a threat like Hitler's Nazism. Regardless of whether the assessment of Saddam's regime was correct or not, one thing for sure has been a fact in the last 25 years, and that is the reality of Islamism being a reactionary movement, threatening not only the Middle East, but the whole world, and it has been appeased until the 9/11.
The Islamist reactionary movement took power first in Iran in 1979, and then showed its ugly presence in Afghanestan and other countries of the Middle East, and not only it was appeased at the beginning, like Hitler's Fascism, but contrary to Hitler's Germany, it did not have a short life in Iran, thanks to its appeasement by the European states, and the efforts of IRI lobbyists in the U.S., it has stayed in power for over two decades, reminding one of long life of similar despotic ideological states in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block.
With the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Shi'a Islamists have been targeting Southern Iraq, hoping to create another Islamic Republic in the Middle East. The best way to fight them is *not* by suppressing democracy, but is to *protect* democracy. What does protecting democracy mean? It means that one should not allow them to close down secular journals and media. One should not allow them to intimidate the rallies and gatherings and parties and associations of secular forces by their guns and knives, etc.
Protecting democracy means one should not believe the Islamist Ayatollahs and gang leaders to be the representatives of the Shi'a people. It means the Ayatollahs who issue any criminal fatwa, must be arrested, and punished according to the human rights standards of the world, and must be tried in the world court for crimes against humanity.
Basically Islamism is a reactionary movement, just like the rise of Nazism, when it started in Europe. But the more democracy is *protected*, this reactionary movement will break up more. In contrast, the more it is appeased, this movement will become more united, and even will control any dissent, like it has been doing in Iran for over two decades.
In Iran, the first major dissent of the Shi'a Islamism was the MKO that has been an Islamist group, but with some protestant elements in its thought, questioning the role of the clergy, and they were suppressed within two years after the success of the 1979 Revolution, and they have been slaughtered all these years by IRI, and they mainly moved out of Iran, mostly being based in Iraq.
Another major dissent in Shi'a Islamism happened recently by the speeches of Aghajari of a group called "mojAhdeine enghelAbe eslAmi", and a death sentence for Aghajari was issued by IRI courts which was finally annuled.. Aghajari's MEE group worked with IRI all these years, and Aghajari himself had supported Khomeini's death fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and even now, he still supports the death fatwa of Salman Rushdie. After students' protests, Aghajari's death sentence was changed. Now if there was any democracy inside Iran, this dissent of Aghajari would have grown into a full-blown branching of Shi'a Islam.
The Islamists want to keep the environment in Iraq a closed society. Under Saddam's closed society, they grew, although they were in opposition, and under an IRI-styled dictatorship of their own, they will be able to grow and keep a semi-unity too. But in an open society, Shi'a Islamists will break up, just like all dictatorial groups.
In other words, as soon as democracy is *protected*, these reactionary despotic groups will split, and their pseudo-unity will become history in a short while. Their unity is the unity of ignorance and intimidation, whether under a dictatorship they oppose, like Shah's regime, or under a dictatorship they control, like Islamic Republic of Iran.
Shah's error in Iran was that he thought by suppressing democracy, and not by *protecting* democracy, he could win over such forces. Whereas the best way to win over these forces in not just creating democracy, but more important than that, is to *protect* the democracy.
Finally if the democratic state develops in Iraq, the final break up of Shi'a will follow, and forces ranging from MKO, mojAhedine enghelAbe eslAmi, Moosa Sadr's son, Sistani, Hakim and others will find their own constituency, and even the extremist KKK-type groups among them, will be limited to their small constituency, and cannot claim to be representing all of the Shi'a population, and this development will help the break up of the rule of Shi'a clergy in Iran and elsewhere as well.
The only answer to Islamism is formation of secular states in the Middle East. Those who are thinking to appease the Islamists, by consenting to an Islamic government in Afghanestan, Iraq and elsewhere, are doing a real disservice to humanity, worse than what Chamberlain did in appeasing the Nazis.
Middle East is no different from Europe and the majority of people in the Middle East *want* secular states and the Shi'a mollahs and Islamists, who try to misuse the religious rituals, to create the image that people in the Middle East want Islamist states, are playing the same old trick they played in 1979 in Iran. In fact, it is the reverse, and islamists try to pretend that they have the support of the West to get the support of their own people. The issue is that creating Islamist states is the goal of the Islamist reactionary movements, and it should be opposed by all freedom-loving people of the world and this is the pre-industrial backbone of violations of human rights in the Middle East.
In the 21st Century, the Islamist Dark Forces should not be allowed to misuse the religious feelings of the people, to force another religious state on other people of the Middle East. Majority of Shi'a people inside Iran, in an open society, would tell any unbiased observer, that they want to have a secular state, and they have wanted IRI to go for a long time, and will never want any other sort of an Islamic state in Iran in the future.
References Chapter 12