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The Spirit of 16 Azar: Iran's Student Day

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

04 Dec 2010 14:1927 Comments

A tradition of democratic struggle, still undaunted.

16AzarPoster2010A.jpg In anticipation of 16 Azar (December 7), the 57th anniversary of University Student Day in Iran, Green students at Tehran's major universities issued statements emphasizing that they will not stop their struggle for freedom and democracy, and condemning, in the strongest language, the hardliners' violent crackdown on political, social, and human rights activists. The schools involved include Allameh University, Khajeh Nasir Toosi University, Amir Kabir University of Technology, Iran University of Science and Technology, the University of Tehran, the University of Medical Sciences, and the central campus of Islamic Azad University. Major universities in other Iranian cities, including Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz, Esfahan, Qazvin, and Baabol issued similar statements. Students at the University of Tabriz have called for a strike.

Well-known student activists from many universities are currently in jail. They include Allameh University's Majid Dorri, a member of the Committee for the Defense of Education Rights who has been given a six-year jail sentence and exiled to Behbahan; Mahdieh Golroo, also of Allameh and the Committee for the Defense of Education Rights, who is serving a three-year sentence; Khajeh Nasir Toosi University's Milad Asadi, a member of the central committee of the Office for Consolidation of Unity -- the umbrella organization for student activist groups -- who has received a sentence of seven years; and Amir Kabir University's Majid Tavakkoli, who has been given a nine-year sentence. Currently, 80 university students are in jail, serving long sentences after show trials. In addition, students at the University of Science and Technology have declared 16 Azar a day of mourning for the students that have been killed in the struggle for democracy. Twenty-three university students have been killed since last year.

The following history of Iranian student activism and 16 Azar was originally published by Tehran Bureau on December 6, 2009.

***

Iranians have been struggling for at least the past 150 years to establish a democratic political system in which the rule of law is supreme. Iranian university students -- and even high school students after the 1979 Revolution -- have been at the forefront of this struggle.

The first modern school in Iran, Daralfonoon, was founded by Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir (1807-1852), who was perhaps the first true reformer in Iran's modern history. He was chief minister (effectively, prime minister) to Naser-eddin Shah (1831-1896) of the Qajar dynasty. The first modern Iranian university however wasn't founded until 1934. A few years earlier, in 1928, professor Mahmoud Hessaby had proposed to Ali Asghar Hekmat, then Reza Shah's Minister of Culture, to establish a comprehensive institution of higher education that would cover most of the sciences. After Reza Shah agreed to the plan, Hekmat, in consultation with the French architect Andre Godard, selected and designed the master plan of the university's main campus. It opened its doors in 1934. After the 1979 Revolution, the government rapidly expanded the number of universities. Iran has now more than 70 universities and institutions of higher education.

Since 1934, Iranian university campuses have always been a hotbed of political activism and protest. Although Reza Shah established a modern bureaucracy and helped modernize Iran, his rule also represented one of the darkest periods in terms of political freedom. After the Allied forces invaded and occupied Iran in 1941, they deposed Reza Shah and replaced him with his young son, Mohammad Reza Shah (1919-1980).

Iran enjoyed relative political and press freedom between 1941 and 1953. Many political organizations were founded during this period, chief among them was the Tudeh (masses) Party, a classic pro-Soviet communist party, wrapped in nationalism to make it more attractive to Iranians. In the 1940s, the Tudeh Party established Sazman-e Javanan-e Hezb-e Tudeh Iran (Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party of Iran), which was active at Tehran University and a few other institutions of higher education.

To counter the influence of the Tudeh Party, Iran's future prime minister, Mehdi Bazargan (1907-1995), then dean of the faculty of engineering (FOE) at the University of Tehran -- the engineering school that the author attended in the 1970s -- helped establish Anjoman Islami Daneshjooyan (Muslim Student Association) in the 1940s. At the same time, a young university student, Mohammad Nakhshab (1922-1975), had started a popular group called Socialist haa-ye Khodaparast (Socialist Worshipers of God), which advocated social justice based on socialism minus its dialectical materialism. Other political groups, such as the Jebhe Melli (National Front), also had their supporters on campuses. By the late 1940s, when other universities had been founded in Shiraz (1946), Tabriz (1947), Mashhad (1949), and later in Isfahan (1950), the higher education institutions, and particularly Tehran University, were totally political.

nixon+tehran+university.jpg

After the CIA/MI6 coup of August 18, 1953, when the popular government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was put back on the throne, campuses became even more political. In the immediate aftermath of the coup, an extremely repressive and oppressive environment prevailed in Iran. The universities remained the most important places where protests against the anti-nationalist and foreign-sponsored coup were taking place.

On November 15, 1953, the coup government announced that Richard M. Nixon, then U.S. vice president in the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, would pay a visit to Iran on December 9, 1953, presumably to celebrate with the Shah the demise of the Mosaddegh government and restoration of the monarchy. Nixon's visit was also supposed to demonstrate the Shah's full support for the United States. At that time however, anti-American feelings were running very high in Iran. Despite the extreme repression, the Shah had not been able to completely crush the opposition. The news of Nixon's trip angered the frustrated population, especially the opposition.

On December 5, 1953, the coup government officially re-established diplomatic relations with Britain. Denis Wright was sent to Tehran as the chargé d'affaires, and stayed on as counsellor until 1955, after the arrival of the new ambassador. The resumption of diplomatic relations further angered the people, and in particular the political dissidents and the university students.

On December 6, 1953, students of the Tehran University schools of medicine, pharmacy, law and political science, engineering, and dentistry demonstrated against Nixon's visit. (All but the dental school are on the west side of campus and could therefore easily join ranks.) They were chanting, "[Iran's] oil is ours," and "death to the Shah." The Shah's Guard-e Jaanbaaz (which roughly means "crusader guard") stormed the campus and brutally attacked the students. The demonstrations spilled onto the streets, and the guards injured and arrested many students. Simultaneous demonstrations had taken place even in some notable Tehran high schools, such as the Sharaf and Alborz high schools.

On the morning of December 7, 1953, the guards entered the FOE, the heart of the protests, to prevent any repeat demonstrations. Though there had not been any demonstrations yet that day, the excuse given was that some students had mocked the police, and the police wanted to arrest them. Two soldiers and an officer went to a class to make the arrests. But the professor, Shams Malak Ara, asked them to leave. As they arrested two students, one student jumped on a desk and began shouting for help. Shams Malak Ara notified the Dean of the FOE.

The soldiers and the officer then went to the office of Dean of the FOE, Mohandes Khalili, who was later active in the National Front. He also protested the intrusion, and his deputy, Dr. Rahim Abedi, was ordered to ring the bells to notify the students. Students gathered in the hall on the first floor of the school. The guards who had been on alert invaded the FOE building. According to Dr. Abedi, 68 bullets were fired. Three young students -- Mostafa Bozorgnia, Ahmad Ghandchi, Mehdi Shariatrazavi -- were killed. In his memoirs, Dr. Mostafa Chamran (1932-1981), Iran's first Defense Minister after the 1979 Revolution, who was a student at the FOE at that time, described the events of the day:

I could hear the sound of machine guns. Then a horrible and painful silence shook me up. Then, I could hear the painful voice of the injured [students]. I can still picture Daneshkadeh Fanni [FOE] on that day and the following days. Why did they rain bullets on the university? Why and how were three of our best friends, Bozorgnia, Ghandchi, and Shariatrazavi, martyred?

The daily Etela'at (information) published the report by the Coroner's office on December 8, 1953, that reported the cause of death of the three young students:

1. Mostafa Bozorgnia, a student at Daneshkadeh Fanni (FOE), died from a bullet that entered the right side of his chest and exited through his left arm. The bullet crushed the bones in his arm and caused severe bleeding, which killed him. He had also been injured with the tip of a spear that had penetrated his body by 15 cm.

2. Shariatrazavi, a student at Daneshkadeh Fanni, died only due to injuries inflicted by a spear tip. It had completely crushed the bones in his right thigh, which had caused severe bleeding. He had also been hit by a bullet in his right arm, which could not have been the cause of his death.

3. The third dead person, student Ahmad Ghandchi, died by a bullet that had entered his body through the abdomen and destroyed his internal organs.

Ghandchi had also suffered from severe burning. The bullets had cracked the hot water pipes and sprayed him with hot water. The three had been taken to a military hospital. Bozorgnia and Shariatrazavi had died instantly. Ghandchi died after 24 hours after suffering from severe bleeding and burns.

Ghandchi and Bozorgnia were buried in Emamzadeh Abdollah cemetery in Ray, a religious town on the southern edge of Tehran. Shariatrazavi's family had been told that he too had been buried there but, in fact, he had been buried in Mesgar Aabaad, an old cemetery east of Tehran. His family went there overnight, opened his grave, and transferred his remains to Emamzadeh Abdollah, where he was buried next to his two martyred friends.

The coup government of General Fazlollah Zahedi claimed that the military commander who had ordered the soldiers to shoot at the students had done so because he had become emotional and agitated after hearing the students chant. However, the same officer was later promoted due to his "service" to the country on that day! In fact, Bozorgnia's older brother, Fazlollah, himself a police officer, said that military commanders had told the soldiers that they would be rewarded if they killed any demonstrators.

The coup government banned traditional Islamic memorials held in Iran on the third and seventh days after the death of a Shiite. But due to huge public pressure, it relented and allowed the 40th day memorial to be held in Emamzadeh Abdollah. It allowed 300 people to attend the memorial, 100 from each family. The three families printed invitation cards with photos of their loved ones. But the coup government, under the excuse that the cards must be stamped to be official, stamped out the three pictures! But, the long street between the Shush Square in southern Tehran and the cemetery, the main road between Tehran and Ray, was completely filled with a huge crowd of mourners. No speeches were allowed.

To appease the families of the three students, the Shah offered to pay their expenses to go to Iraq and visit the shrine of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and third Shia Imam, who is considered the symbol of martyrdom. The families turned down the offer, and wrote strongly worded letters of protest instead.

Who were the three students?

16+azar+students.jpgMostafa Bozorgnia was born in 1934. His father was a colonel in the Shah's imperial army, and his older brother, Fazlollah, was a police officer. Mostafa had graduated from the Daralfonoon High School with a double major, mathematics and natural sciences, the two most difficult and prestigious in Iran. He was in the second year of his studies at the FOE when he was murdered. He is said to have been a supporter of the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party. In an interview with the daily Kayhan in 1960, Fazlollah Bozorgnia stated that his brother always visited poor neighbourhoods of Tehran and distributed food and clothes there. He had stated that he would oppose the Shah until his death. He had also made a movie called "The Error" in which he appeared as one of the characters. Dr. Mostafa Chamran was a friend and classmate of his.

Ahmad Ghandchi was born in 1933. He graduated from Sharaf High School in Tehran at the age of 16, and was in the second year of his studies when he was murdered. According to his brother, he was a practicing Muslim and a supporter of Mosaddegh's National Front.

Mehdi Shariatrazavi was born in 1932 in the religious city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran. His family called him Azar (fire). He was in the second year of his studies in the FOE when he was murdered. It has been said that he was a supporter of the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party, but his sister, Dr. Pouran Shariatrazavi, has denied this. She has said that her brother was a religious young man and a practicing Muslim. Their older brother, Ali Asghar Shariatrazavi -- who was called Toofan (hurricane) by his family -- was killed defending Iran when the Allied Forces invaded Iran in 1941. Dr. Pouran Shariatrazavi married Dr. Ali Shariat (1933-1977), the distinguished sociologist and Islamic thinker. Today, a large hospital in Tehran, Shahid (martyr) Mehdi Shariatrazavi Hospital, is named in his honor.

Since 1953, 16 Azar (December 7) has been commemorated every year as Student Day, as a symbol of the struggle of Iranian students against dictatorship. For years the bloodstain of the three students on the pillars of the main hall of the FOE were preserved. For 24 years, the Shah's regime followed the bloody event on 16 Azar with other confrontation with university students all over Iran. The students of the faculty of engineering were, and still are, the bastions of the Iranian students' movement for democracy.

shariatrazavi.jpgIn the 1960s and 1970s, one of the main publications of the Confederation of Iranian Students outside Iran was called 16 Azar, and the day was commemorated by Iranian students abroad with demonstrations against the Shah's regime and, more recently, against the Islamic Republic.

In the 1970s, when I was a student in the FOE, we always commemorated 16 Azar. My freshman year in 1972-73 also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Shah's so-called White Revolution of February 1973. The year before, 16 Azar was particularly powerful and marked by large demonstrations at the University of Tehran. The demonstrations in 1974 were so large that the engineering faculty was shut down for the entire 1974-75 academic year. In 1975, two of my classmates, Mohammad Ali Bagheri and Hamid Aryan, who had started their studies at the FOE in the same year that I had, were killed by the Shah's security forces. In fact, many of my contemporaries in the FOE were jailed or killed, either by the Shah's regime or the Islamic Republic after the 1979 Revolution.

Interestingly, the monarchists tried for years to eliminate 16 Azar from the list of important days to stage political commemorations and demonstrations in Iran. However, they never succeeded. This event has been part of Iran's struggle to establish a democratic political system, and is now an important part of Iran's history.

This year 16 Azar has particular significance, as the Green Movement has vowed to use the occasion to protest the repression of the Islamic Republic and the violent crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations after the rigged June 12 presidential election. The occasion will also be used to demand the release of political prisoners, and call for the punishment of those responsible for the brutal crimes after the election, among many other legitimate demands.

As Dr. Ali Shariati said of the three murdered students,

These three drops of blood on the face of our universities are still fresh and warm. I wish I could cover these three Godly fires with the ashes of my burnt-out body. But, no, I should live and preserve the three fires in my chest.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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27 Comments

Given the demography of Iran, I am hopeful that real change will finally come - and remain.

Pak / December 4, 2010 7:39 PM

Dear Professor Sahimi,

Could you please give your opinion on the supposed contradiction between pursuing reform in Iran and defending Iran from foreign threats? Thank you.

Pak / December 4, 2010 7:54 PM

Dear Pak:

In my opinion there is no contradiction.

Those of us, like me, who support the democratic movement but are also against economic sanctions (that hurt only ordinary people) and military threats and war do so because they believe that it is only in an atmosphere of no external threat that the democratic movement can advance. An external threat has always been used by dictators to not only justify their crimes, but also cover up their utter incompetence in running the country. Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan did wonders for the hardliners, just as the Falkland Island war of 1983 with Britain did wonders for the military junta in Argentina. There are just too many of such examples.

So, defending Iran against external threats is defending Iran's TRUE (not bogus) national interests.

My belief has always been:

Defend what must be defended.

Reject what must be rejected, and

criticize what must be criticized,

no matter who is in power.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 4, 2010 10:57 PM

Sahimi states,

"Defend what must be defended.

Reject what must be rejected, and

criticize what must be criticized,

no matter who is in power."

Agreed.

In the same spirit I ask once again,
step 'out of the closet' is a direct reference to my key question to you.Are you or aren't you a supporter of the 'islamic republic'?The answer is Yes I am or No I am not without any window dressing wiles.

Sheyda / December 4, 2010 11:35 PM

Muhammad, your type of "belief" would have wrought disaster upon the people of Britain in 1940 had they adopted such subversive ways. Of course, there were a few Lord Haw-Haws in exile that were, under the circumstances, perfectly willing to take up such a "belief".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_haw_haw

Pirouz / December 5, 2010 12:25 AM

"Britain in 1940"! Fantastic, Pirouz. Way to stay relevant. Now, let's discuss your "belief", which wreaks continuing disaster upon the people of Iran today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran

Nard / December 5, 2010 1:01 AM

The article has some useful information, but is loaded with ideological rhetorics and lacks hindsight perspective, as if the author has turned a total blind eye to the experiences of past 32 years. In particular:

1. Ali Shariati is referred to as "distinguished sociologist and Islamic thinker". He was neither distinguished nor a thinker. He hardly received his doctoral (!) degree from a third-rate school in France, and his thesis related to Mullaology (in Iran). He was a persuasive lecturer, but a fanatic deceiver and liar, whose aim was to oppose modernity and return iran to the days of Prophet's rule in Medina. He not only did not learn a thing from his days in free and democratic France, but like many others of his contemporaries who lived in free societies, returned to iran, only to hypocritically prescribe islamic oppression (and/or marxist fascism) for the hungry (biologically and mentally) youth of iran. Only naivete followed him and what we see today is the exact outcome of his so-called philosophy, except that he wanted turban-less mullas to be in charge, of which he was one. In hindsight, he is no more than a fanatic criminal opportunist thug. His lectures are on the web, where, for example, he spends a lecture criticizing the then iranian atmosphere of accommodating "Maax Faaktor" (aka, Max Factor -- the women's make-up brand) for being sold in iran and iranians using western-style makeup [instead of the traditional Rouge (aka, Sorkhab), Whiting (aka, Sefidab), Indigo (aka, Vasmeh), and Kohl (aka, Sormeh)]. In another lecture, he talks passionately about a city/village in Africa where people ride horses instead of cars and live very happy (as a result of that). He then attacks modernity and presence of likes of General Motors Corp's cars in Iran. His lectures has the exact tone as a theocracy and a religious dictatorship. And nobody told him, that if he didn't like Maax Faaktor, he did not have to buy them (for himself! or his immediate family); or if he rode a horse (instead of a GM car) to his lecture that day. Instead he wanted to impose his backward standards, even on such irreverent matters as women's makeup, on others. The exact same thing that IEI is doing today.

He constantly, in his lectures, put down iranian's pre-islamic civilization and insulted the only period in which iran was a leading civilization of its time. In yet another lecture, he exclaimed that he would so much endear Abuzar (the islamic swordsman who did nothing in his life except for killing innocent people who opposed the theocratical rule) and would not exchange him even with as many as ten Avicenna's -- iran has hardly had ten Avicenna's in her entire post-islamic era. His animosity with anything with iranian roots is an exact replica of what we see today in IRI's leaders and amongst islamists and radical leftists. He, just like other Islamists, simply do not want to be "iranian", rather want to defeat iran and turn it into an islamic society for unholy objectives.

His problem with the Shah was not the crimes or misdeeds of the Shah, rather Shah's progressive agenda and that likes of him were not in charge of power and wealth of the country.

Incidentally, for years Islamists, leftists, and his followers blamed Savak for his death, and some still do, even after E. Baghi (a revolutionary who reviewed Savak's internal documents after revolution), explicitly indicated that Savak had no role in Shariati's death.

2. The author correctly sympathizes with unjust death of the three students. However, he lacks the hindsight that:
(a) those three (accidental?) deaths have been negligible compared to tens of thousands of intentional murders that IRI has committed since its establishment.
(b) The author indicates that those three had either had Tudeh or Islamic tendencies. Two fascistic trends that has brought us exactly where we are today. Once again, the pre-revolution student movements lacked authenticity as we saw how fanatic they were either on extreme left or on religious right. As soon as Shah was unseated, all these groups showed their true faces such that amongst them, true democrats turned out to be non-existent, or scarce at best. Once again, their problem with the Shah proved not to be Shah's authoritarian rule, but excuse for their objection to them not being in position of authority instead of the Shah.

3. I would like to see where the author's evidence is with regard to murders of the students where he claims: "military commander who had ordered the soldiers to shoot at the students", "same officer was later promoted due to his service to the country on that day", and "military commanders had told the soldiers that they would be rewarded if they killed any demonstrators". These claims are highly suspicious or based on hearsay rumors at best.

Majid S. / December 5, 2010 1:06 AM

Majid:

Thank you for your long lecture about Dr. Shariati.

But, the article was not about him at all. I only quoted him at the very end, because I found the quote beautiful and meaningful.

As to what Dr. Shariati was or was not, you are free to think of him anyway you want. Those who oppose him are like you. Those who respect him are the opposite. This is not the place to debate that, because the article is not about him.

The article is also not a review of everything that has gone wrong over the past 57 or 32 years. That would need a multi-volume book. Therefore, my lack of hindsight perspective - as true as it may be - is not relevant. The article is about a specific historical event that - whether anyone likes or not - is commemorated every year in Iran. The very fact that despite everything that has happened during the IRI era the students still commemorate Azar 16 has a deep meaning. Is it difficult to see that?

Everything in this piece is factual and can be easily checked, in case you are suspicious. Dr. Rahim Abedi, quoted in the piece, has explained the events of those days. He now lives in retirement in Southern California at the age of close to 95, and a couple of years ago I had the pleasure of talking to him.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 5, 2010 1:56 AM

Dear Pirouz,

You are opening up a can of worms when using history to understand current events. I think you will find that history is not on the side of the Islamic Republic.

Pak / December 5, 2010 3:39 AM

And because of it all we are today exactly where we ought to be. Not much further ahead and no less farther behind. This is precisely why the engravings on the Iranian consciousness are building the necessary solid foundation for the future generations of Iranian people.

The process is slow. But it ought to be slow. Like the growing of a child and the attainment of maturity. Neither can it be given nor can it be restored by way of force - or else the possesssion of it will be a fleeting prize.

March on my beloved Iran! March on! Long way to go. Enlightenment is our destiny.

Ekbatana / December 5, 2010 6:24 AM

Dear Prof. You did not provide any proof for the claims that I quoted from your article. Such claims were prevalent during Shah's period and most (if not all) turned out to be bogus tools of deceit for aims that turned out to be the islamic revolution. I did not dispute Dr. Abedi's claim.

As you may have deducted, I passionately despise and detest the flawless jerk that Ali Shariati (and his likes) were; for many reasons, amongst them that (a) he so bluntly lied to and deceived our youth about almost anything, (b) to so cheaply sell the country that was not his to his despicable version of islam, and (c) to be the illegitimate father (hand-in-hand with Khomeini) of the revolution and the islamic republic. It is the foremost responsibility of any (even marginally) nationalist to detest such traitors and congenial lier and deceiver with utmost severity.

Finally, 16th of Azar is only important as a historical backdrop, for it once was such a big deal and rarity to have three students killed in a single day. However, every day of the past 31+ years has been another 16th of Azar day, if not many 16th of Azars often in a single day or even a single hour or minute.

Majid S. / December 5, 2010 6:29 AM

Howzat, Ekbatana? The Iranian people are too childish to handle democracy? You're a real prize, sir. Iranians are more than sufficiently enlightened to understand that--once again--they are getting richly and royally shafted.

Nard / December 5, 2010 7:08 AM

Seriously Pirouz?

In any case, Lord Haw-Haw would more accurately be Press TV. And you would be Tokyo Rose.

There, I've just been as knee-jerk relevant as your IRI deflection playbook.

Kurt / December 5, 2010 10:45 AM

@Nard
Why would I aspire to seeing Iran under such a foolish dogmatic concept called "democarcy?"

Yeah! let's have this "democracy,' and the parliament that goes with it. That way, at least people whom we vote for can take our rights away, not those bearded ugly people we didn't elect. Right? Yeah, let's have this "democracy," so our elected officials take us to war and keep us at war for decades on end; but hey, at least we can go to bars at night, sleep with whomever we want, and drink liquor anytime we want. It's "democracy," right?

Your comment about "When your rulers are marching your country ass-backward," is also another jab in the air. More women now graduate from Iranian universities (some estimates are around 60%, while the number stands at 56% for the "democratic" US) than anytime in the history of the country. Backward?

Only seven or so nations are now capable of designing, building, and putting delivering satelites to orbit, with Iran being one of them. Backward?

To be sure, the Iranian system of justice is broken and in desperate need of fixing. As long as we don't permit illusions of a system of government that is everything to everyone to beset our mind, the Iranian nation needs to inch and work its way toward a better justice system; one that doesn't take a life so easily.

Long way to go...

Ekbatana / December 5, 2010 2:50 PM

Ekbatana, the simple fact that you just called democracy "foolish" is all we need to know what sort of person you are.

But since you aspire to rule a world of idiots, let me explain to you exactly what democracy is, since you'll be fighting against ordinary people who have faith in it all your live-long days. Democracy is very simple, and it's not "dogmatic" in the least. Democracy is a system in which supreme power is vested in the people, rather than, for instance, in a dictator who claims some magically superior authorization from the divine.

"Ass-backward" a "jab in the air"? Hardly. The facts are well established. Given its glorious cultural and intellectual tradition and, yes, devotion to education, Iran should be one of the most advanced, progressive nations on Earth. But those whom you venerate have made sure it is not so.

Corruption: 168th out of 180 countries (http://transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009/cpi_2009_table)
Press freedom: 175th out of 178 countries (http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html)
Democracy (as if you care): 145th out of 167 countries (http://graphics.eiu.com/PDF/Democracy%20Index%202008.pdf)

Nard / December 5, 2010 4:16 PM

Ekbatana,

Do you not think Iranians will progress at a much faster pace given the freedom to pick and choose their own destiny rather than being told what to do 24/7 and according to an outdated backward Sharia law?
You mentioned some 60% of Iranian university graduates are women. What else can a thinking woman do in mullah’s Iran other than getting married and pregnant to keep her sanity?
"at least we can go to bars at night, sleep with whomever we want, and drink liquor anytime we want."
That’s right. That is my business and it is called democracy.
You are an Ahmadinejad supporter and a reflection of IR clan values.
Iran will be democratic at a fast pace once the source of oppression is committed to the garbage of history. It will be done soon and history is my proof. Take it from this woman.

Niloofar / December 5, 2010 5:43 PM

@Nard,
Relax...

Here is another sample of what, I guess, you may call democracy:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/05/julian-assange-lawyers-being-watched

Examples of the kind are endless if you care to look at other areas (e.g. pharma, monsanto, etc.)

I would have to disagree with you that "Democracy is very simple." Not in this world, it ain't. How can such a concept, whose ingredients are so ephemeral, be taken seriously is beyond me.

The Latin world pursued a couple of ideologies: the church and "democracy." The former failed the people (e.g. Copernicus, modern day evangelism), and the latter has had enough time for the theory of it to be tested over and over and discarded for good.

Your fist in my flaccid gut? See what I mean? Another jab in the air!

Ekbatana / December 5, 2010 10:57 PM

@Niloofar,
Revisiting and evaluating the laws of any nation is always a good idea. I am not against questioning Sharia Law or abolishing it or whatever. Experts need to sit down and decide that. There are a lot of Iranian women who are doing extremely well in Iran. They are publishers, scholars, visiting scholars, medical doctors, attorneys, etc. Just because they are not on the streets and shouting against the government, it doesn't mean we should discount them.

You may call sleeping around your business, no question on that, but you can't call that democracy. Over time, colonial powers learned that religion and "democracy," are more of a stumbling block than anything else, when it came to their domestic policies. So, they settled on using religion to meddle in the affairs of resourceful geographical regions that inhabited primitive people (e.g. Haiti, south america, Africa), and decided to use the notion of "democracy," to meddle in the affairs of more advanced, yet still resourceful regions (e.g. India).

And as soon as a region is no longer primitive, the west pulls the "democracy," tool out of the box. Whenever, neither tool is effective to plunder the resources of a region (e.g. Saudi Arabia), they shelve these tools and it's not on the agenda at all.

Pushing "democracy," in Iran, at least, tells you that they no longer [consider] Iran, as in their thought,] a primitive region. Not bad! But where was all this call for "democracy" when Shah was in Iran? Given all of his oppressive policies.

Ekbatana / December 6, 2010 1:22 AM

Freedom of speech,debate and critisism are a part of one of the corner stones of democracy.
Alas,why is it that 7 of my fellow countrymen can hardly agree on a simple topic?

Siamak Zand / December 6, 2010 3:48 PM

Mr. Zand,

Perhaps it would help to look up the definition of debate.

To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.

Alas, the reason.

6+1 Mr. Zand.

Niloofar / December 6, 2010 6:05 PM

@Siamak Zand,
Forget the notion of "democracy," and be an independent observer of the events around you.

Do you see "democracy," anywhere? Is what is happening to Assange, "freedom of speech, debate, criticism?" How is it that the west and its european allies try to import to Iran something they themselves clearly lack?

When the Bam earthquake happened, Iranian government did not have to send a single troop to the city with the mission of "shoot to kill!" When hurricane Katrina happened in the United States, a curfew was declared and thousands of U.S. troops and local policemen were deployed to the city with the mission of "shoot to kill!" Some wealthy 'residents,' of the city brought (i.e. hired and flew in) Israeli special forces for the fear that their mansions may be looted; this, instead of opening up their mansions and letting everybody use it as shelter until more help arrived.

The united states has mainstream media outlets that work 24/7 to create the 'perception' that there is "democracy," in the west. But everytime, these claims are tested, the charade and sham of this "democracy," is unveiled. And the supposed elections? Every candidate with a modicum chance of winning in the American politics is either a millionnaire or has the name and the ability to raise millions for a campaign. Just look up the statistics on the percentage of millionnaires in the US. It hovers about 1%. This 1% decides the fate of the other 99%. Some "democracy!"

"Democracy," is an invention of the west used as a political tool to justify creating mayhem and stifling growth and progress in the resource rich countries of the world that have thinking, intelligent populations.

Ekbatana / December 6, 2010 9:03 PM

I'll take your advice and forget about democracy for the time being Ekbatana.but as far as the Bam earthquake is concerned,I was there 12 hours after the major tremor with a network of the american mainstream media covering the story.True there were no Iranian soldiers with orders"Shoot to kill" but at the same time, the handful of the Red Crecent personel could hardly cope with the magnitude of the disaster.It was those bloody medics from the great Satan's homeland who set up the most up to date hospital with surgeons,doctors,nurses and the most modern medical equipment that saved the lives of many Iranians.And if you are in Iran,please be my guest and pay Bam a visit exactly 8 years on.

Siamak Zand / December 7, 2010 12:39 AM

@Siamak Zand,
We are not comparing Red Cross with Red Crescent here. There are Iranian doctors in the US who forgo their own surgery fee (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) to operate and save the lives of the American poor who cannot afford the cost of appropriate medical care. There are top Jewish doctors saving the lives of hundreds of children in Memphis' Saint Jude Children Hospital. What do these have anything to do with our discussion about the exercise of "democracy?" and the threats brought against the Iranian nation in the name of such a dellusional concept?

The question is why Iranians like yourself are buying into the 'apparition of a notion' called "democracy," when there are countless examples that those who beat their chest in the West the loudest about this hollow concept, do not even exercise what they advertise to the rest of the world?

What you consider "democracy," does not exist anywhere in the world. Governments around the world dispense certain freedoms and tolerate certain levels of opposition by their populace. That's all! From Germany to Greece, people are beaten up and thrown in jail by the hundreds, because they are protesting a rise in the retirement age, or cutbacks in social benefits. What would you think would happen if these same Eurpoeans demanded a total overhaul of their political system? For example, protest on the streets of London and demand the abolishment of the Bank of England, the source of all economic misery and many a wars worldwide, and see what treatment Scotland Yard will give you. Make your protests a little more vehement and the MI6 will pay you an unforgettable visit. The kind that, if you survive it, would make you relocate to Tehran.

http://www.iamthewitness.com/DarylBradfordSmith_Bankers.htm


Ekbatana / December 7, 2010 2:38 AM

What matters is that all protest on this students day (16 Azar) will be against the regime.

The same Islamist regime of Terror, Theft, Murder, Corruption and Lies that has sponsored this day for 30 years!

Maziar Irani / December 7, 2010 2:58 AM

Ekbatana = a bigot who has no idea what he/she is talking about. His/her understanding of democracy is why he/she is happy with the situation in Iran.

It shows how education is vital to progress (which explains why there are protests across Iranian universities today). It also shows how regime apologists' arguments are so hollow and bigoted. These arguments are always based on pointing the finger at others. What they do not understand - which I attribute to a lack of education - is that they are able to point the finger at others because these others - i.e. the West - are accountable to their people. Their crimes and missteps become public knowledge through NGOs, civil organisations and other mechanisms of democracies. Sure it is not perfect: despite millions of people protesting in the UK, the government still went to war with Iraq. But the level of accountability and transparency in the West is light years ahead of Iran.

Regardless, if regime apologists hold the West to such low standards, then why do they hold their own government to the same standard? And why are regime apologists up in arms about the treatment of may be 1 or 2 political activists in the West (such as Julian Assange), when hundreds if not thousands of political activists are imprisoned in Iran? If Assange was Iranian, he would have already been condemned for waging war against God and hanged. Hmm, I smell hypocrisy.

By the way, here have been endless student protests across the UK for the past few weeks. Hundreds of thousands of students have been marching.

The protests have been called illegal. There is a massive media blackout. Mobile networks and internet connections are down. Thousands have been arrested. Hundreds have been beaten. Many have been shot dead and run over by cars. There are reports of torture and rape in prisons across the UK.

Oh wait, no, that is Iran.

Pak / December 8, 2010 12:43 AM

I am inspired by your support of Iranian Human Rights and Democracy!


It is important to recognize that no democracy is perfect, but it is important to make strides are bettering one's nation, and the quality of one's society!

We is the diaspora really do have to stand strong, and support eachother and our brothers and sisters who are risking their lives to create a stable and Democratic iran we can go home to. The oppression and violence has really gone too far-- we need an open society where we can talk, respect and have a dialogue-- and open society will lead to creativity and innovation, and Iran will again be a competitive nation in the world.

Love Live Iran!

http://newiranianrevolution.wordpress.com

Azi / December 8, 2010 2:58 AM

@Pak,
The man had insight when he famously said "Don't let college get in the way of your education." References to a difference between fiction and reality; theory and practice; perusing of never ending procession of juxtaposed ink versus playing the game.

"Happy," isn't the right adjective when I think of the place of my birth and infinite nourishment. If it depended on my heart's content, anyone able and older than 19 would have a task either in IRGC or the Basij or the house of officers of the regular army. Motherland is well and it benefits and enriches those who have accepted the enormous task of protecting Her.

It is not a coincidence that docile men adopt brute force in the seats of power, since this is the most efficient, impersonal, and economic tool in aligning the interests of the many.

One individual, "Pak," defies reason, and far more importantly, all evidence laid before the iris. What chance, then, 'reason,' and 'evidence,' have against the similar qualities of the masses; especially, when time is of the essence. The challenge of Man, therefore, is not to oppose or deny those forces that exist in nature by way of inventing fictitious notions, as encapsulated in this case in the notion of "democracy," or "democratic rule," but to embrace them all and use them in dealings of impersonal nature rather than those that spring forth due to a wave of emotions.

Ekbatana / December 8, 2010 7:35 AM