Sunday, September 06, 2009

"Islamic Republic, Nothing More, Nothing Less"

“Islamic Republic, not a single word less and not a single word more.”
At two in the morning, I anxiously went to the computer room and clicked on Facebook. Masih Alinejad was online with people in Tehran who were giving a minute by minute report from the “tahlif” ceremony, an Islamic term for inauguration.
At 4:30 I fell sleep after I was certain that Ahmadinejad would be our next president, if not by our vote then just by the measure of the Supreme Leader and his cronies’ chutzpah. Later on, when I woke up, I roamed around to find something comforting. Roozbeh Mirebrahimi had a wonderful article on Gooya News. Balanced and professional as always, he wrote about the slogans and goals of the green movement and Mousavi’s controversial statement in response to the current slogan chanted by people, “Esteqlal, Azadi, Jomhuri Irani”—Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic.

He denounced the slogan and dissociated himself as well his office from it. He very adamantly repeated Khomeini’s statements early in the revolution that “Jomhuri Islami, not a single word less and not a single word more.”

While Mousavi leaves himself open to some criticism, particularly from those abroad, still, he wins some support as well. Roozbeh Mirebrahimi defends him, even finding his conservative view advantageous. He believes that Mousavi, a legitimate child of Khomeini’s revolution, sincerely brings about those promised ideals which had never been achieved and makes a commitment to reviving them as part of his agenda. However, while admitting that slogans evolve as the movement progresses, he leaves aside the necessity of the natural emergence of this particular slogan (Islamic Republic, not a single, etc.) and emphasizes the necessity of unity among the protesters for the sake of attaining their goal, a democratic government and the rule of law. I assume, by combining these two arguments, he is trying to convince us to ignore the phrase “Islamic Republic, not a single, etc.”

The Green movement’s slogan, “Where is our vote” changed to “Mousavi, Mousavi retrieve our votes” when faced with resistance, and then to “Death to dictator” and “My dear martyr, I retrieve the blood you shed, I retrieve your vote” when they were confronted with bullets. Obviously it was the situation which changed the slogans and not the other way around. The changes of icons in our Facebook took place in the same fashion. Early days “Where is my vote” with green background was turned into bloody hands over a green background when the police turned to violence and murdered the people, then changed to a green sign reading “I confess” after the wave of forced confession aroused sympathy and compassion in us. However, the slogan of “Jomhuriye Eslami” being replaced with
Jomhuriye Irani did not resulted from any evolutionary change of events, but is the outcome of an historical process and political maturity. It is not only the change of situation which calls for chanting such a daring slogans, but an awareness of a fundamental question which should have come much sooner.

The rise of the Islamic Republic was so rapid and unexpected that none of us found it suitable to question the fundamental principals or the justification for the institutes established by its founders. Even the referendum took place without people knowing what they were really voting for or why. As I recall, it just gave the people the chance to confirm the Islamic Republic even before the constitution of Islamic Republic was composed. The result was thirty years of chaos, murder, imprisonment, imposition and backwardness. (To be fair, it also meant lots of pretty highways, and universities on every corner, though many of them do not have enough faculty and staff.) One might also, sadly and embarrassingly, add the ignorance and political immaturity of our generation as one of the major contributors. So the Islamic Republic’s founder, Khomeini, was left unchallenged as to what he meant by Islamic Republic and its governance, or the legitimacy of Islamic rules for a country with such a secular history.

To question the legitimacy of a regime or even the foundation of the governmental system is not the domain of elites or scholars. Any responsible citizen has a right to question the legitimacy of its government. They have a right to ask any amount of words they like, Why shouldn’t they ask for nothing more or nothing else but the Islamic Republic? Really, why not? What is so virtuous in an Islamic Regime? Didn’t it kill? Didn’t it rape? Didn’t it torture? Didn’t it cheat? Didn’t it lie? Didn’t it strip people of their dignity? Didn’t it violate people’s basic rights? Didn’t it demolish all civil foundations? Didn’t it abolish whatever was left of something called “law”? Didn’t it ignore the Constitutions? Didn’t it violate all humane norms? And didn’t it do all this according to the laws of the sharia? Really, what else didn’t it do? What else should it do for us to question its legitimacy, or even desirability?

“Real Islam…” is the usual cliché which has been used again and again during the last thirty years to cover up all the abuses. The reformist clerics and laymen have used it equally as if it is another denomination of Islam. But we are still wondering as to its actuality and its virtue. Where was that real Islam to save all these cleric and ayatollahs from free fall? Why could it not stop the pious from walking to hell? What is good about a religious system if its “real version” would become mixed up with its “false version” so easily, even being indistinguishable to the experts? And what guarantees that the one which is called “real” today won’t turn out even more “false” tomorrow? Is human instinct for corruption so strong? Is the seat of power in this earthly life dearest too? If yes, then why bother? Why should we bear such an imposition? Why should we follow those rules which could not save those who are supposed to be immune from fall, those who are the God’s emissaries?

Unfortunately such embarrassing statements, coming from the man who is supposed to be our legitimate president, won’t help the movements at all. Mousavi could have ignored the slogan and just maintain his individual right as to take his distance from it. He should have known that he is not the leader of this movement, but just an elected president. And he should have known that he has no role as to what people in street will chant, the chants are the direct result of people’s “experience” which translates into one word: Democracy, not a word more and not a word less. People did not stumble on this word and did not receive an instruction from anybody, foreign or native, and won’t alter it on anybody’s advice. They have learned that the Islamic regime won’t bring them even close to what they call democracy.

However it is so fortunate that our third generation, moje sevomi ha, know what Mousavi doesn’t. It is so fortunate that they are wiser than we were some thirty years ago. It is so fortunate that they are bolder. It is so fortunate that they are more liberated. It is so fortunate that they have more self-confidence. It is so fortunate that they know for sure what they want. It is so fortunate that they are not willing to settle for anything less than what they want. It is so fortunate that they want democracy. It is so fortunate that during the last thirty years they have learned that Islam won’t bring them democracy. It is so fortunate that they, willingly, would let Mousavi go if Mousavi does not want to follow them. And finally, it is so fortunate that Khatami is a witness to all these, and can tell Mousavi “listen kiddo, these are not those naïve kids of thirty years ago. They are tough. I know what I’m talking about. I trained them. It is true you are the legitimate son of Khomeini’s revolution, but these are the legitimate kids of the Khatami School of Reform and Liberation.”

1 comment:

Xagros said...

U r a great author khaleh Mina!