Friday, April 18, 2008

Khatami in Spain

Once more, President Khatami gave an elegant, beautiful and intelligent talk not in Iran, but in Europe. I read the speech in Emrooz online. While enjoying it tremendously, I wonder why is it that all these good talks should be delivered outside Iran. As a matter of fact, most of his speeches in Iran, except one that he delivered on the occasion of Hazrat Fatima’s birthday somewhere in Iran, are mostly mediocre.

I can only speculate that

1- He does not think that his Iranian audience deserves better than what they get. I’m almost sure he won’t admit this, so let’s take it off the list.

2- In Iran, he feels he is among friends who love him no matter what, so he goes to various meetings without bothering about what he is going to say, just as when one goes home to visit ones parents, one does not write a speech beforehand. Of course, he is right to feel that way, he is indeed very well-loved, but I’m sure he would not abuse people’s love and understanding. So let’s take off the list too.

3-He does not feel comfortable (or, better, he is afraid) in Tehran, or other parts of the country beyond Yazd, where he spends most of his time when he is in Iran. That makes sense. We Yazdis keep too much to ourselves. Not that we do not like others, but there is “us” with a wall around us and “others” outside the wall, just like Yazd itself. And to defend ourselves, I should say we are right to be so, because we are surrounded by desert; and charming and picturesque as it might be, it is really scary. We are a bit afraid and get intimidated by the outsiders, and we have a right to be that way. If we ever let the outsiders in, they can do horrifying things to us and we won’t have any other choice but to submit. See what the outsiders did to us: Sluggishly, and carelessly, they interpreted all this into our being “cowards” and have commonly ignored how all these natural conditions have turned us into industrious and creative people. Yes, I should say, there are “others” out there that we are afraid of.

I’m afraid that I have to keep this guess on the list. I’m half Yazdi myself and as an insider I can testify to the accuracy of this bit of inside information that President Khatami has this “Yazdiness” in him. See how he talks differently and courageously whenever he is in the vicinity of Yazd, like when he recently said, “People have the right to change their government if they want too.”

4- He feels freer outside Iran. This is true and I’m certain that is the case, and even if he denies it and swears to God or anything else, I won’t believe him. There is more freedom outside Iran and there is no use denying! But doesn’t he get into trouble when he comes back? I hope not, and so far he has not, though after his trip to the United States, Mrs. Elham (Rajabi) called for his being defrocked. That did not happen either. Anyhow he feels free out there, therefore he says more intelligent things, like what he said about liberty, freedom and justice. I personally do not blame him. One cannot talk about those things in Iran. Europeans understand them better. They wanted to be free and have the liberty to decide for their own lives, so they formed their lives and governments on that basis, while we did not. Didn’t we vote for Islamic Republic? Didn’t we choose to be slashed in public? Didn’t we choose to be stoned to death? Didn’t we choose those few unelected people to decide over every aspect of our lives? And justice? Yes, that too. Their notion of justice is based on equality, all are equal according to law and everyone has equal rights to basic human needs. No one is to be denied education or access to health care or the ability to secure ones livelihood. People may have to pay different prices to receive different quality of their needs, but they have the right to have it, while our notion of justice is based on charity and benevolence. There are the poor and there are the rich, and the former must rely on the latter’s benevolence. There are the wise and there are the ignorant and the ignorant should be at the mercy of and guided by the wise. There are the powerful and there are the weak and deprived, and the later are definitely at the mercy of the former. Let’s call this Islamic Justice. The velayat faqih is the embodiment of this notion of “benevolent justice.” So naturally Khatami can never deliver those speeches in Iran saying that “justice is not real justice if it is not coupled with freedom and liberty.” How could we entertain such an expectation?! How could he talk about freedom in the country in which even Google is filtered? Yes, that could be his concern, and he is right. He had better say all these things in Spain and Germany and Italy. So let’s keep that on the list.

5- The real face of Islam? Most of President Khatami activity is hooked to that tiny little phrase. All those talks and all those lectures and smiles and comings and goings and fancy cloak and turban and neatness, all those quotations from Leibniz, and Kant and Descartes, all that talk about justice and freedom, all and all are aimed at one end—to show the “true face” of Islam to the world. That is why we do not hear any of it in Iran, where we don’t need it. We are Islam, we see it ourselves everyday and every night. We know how just it is, how fair it is, how humane it is, how free it is, how it respect liberty. We know all that, we live with it day and night. We do not need to hear about something that we have hands-on experience of.

Some of Khatami’s followers have complained about why Iranian television and radio do not broadcast these talks. I think these people are out of their minds. Why should the government broadcast that recent speech, in which every phrase is precisely against all the government’s actions? Indeed, if Khatami himself wants to say any of these things in Iran, instead of all those mediocre talks he usually delivers there, he could go to Tehran University or any of hundreds of universities throughout the country and deliver them his speech in Persian. Or even better, he could go right into the office of the Supreme Leader and say what he has in mind and see if he agrees with him.

I’m afraid I have to keep this on my list and insist that this is the most frightening and disappointing and yet the truest guess in my list, and I dare say it is the one I prefer to be wrong on, but don’t think I am. Khatami is the Islamic Republic’s show case, he is the only presentable character they have. We are not his targeted audience and indeed we are deluding ourselves if we consider him one of our own. It is true that we love him and more than that we need him. But how many times, and with what language should he tell us that he does not need us, he is not concerned with our needs, and he cannot help us. He has a different mission in life and is doing his job fine.

1 comment:

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