Category: Iran

Is the Iranian theocracy doomed?

In the June 29 issue of Newsweek, Jon Meacham wrote of religion and politics in “Theocracies Are Doomed. Thank God.”

Any time you put religion and politics in the same sentence, you’re going to come up with some controversy, so an opinion piece on the two was bound to get my attention.

Most notably the following:

The work of politics is not the same as the work of religion. Religious values can inform politics and civil society, but heaven and earth are ultimately separate provinces.

And I thank Meacham for repeating this still-timely statement from Thomas Jefferson:

… the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.

Meacham was writing in response to events in Iran, and I’d love to see that theocracy fall. I think theocracies are wrong. But they’ve been around for a very long time, and like any form of government, they won’t give up power unless their citizens demand it. In the 21st Century — as the Iranian ayatollahs are discovering — it’s gotten very, very difficult to keep people in the dark, away from Jefferson’s “light of science.”

The lionesses of Iran


Like others around the world, I’ve been watching events unfold in Iran since the contested election more than a week ago. The pictures have been much like those we’ve seen from other protests, demonstrations, riots, and revolts — but with one notable difference. This time it hasn’t been just groups of young men in the streets. This time, women have been very evident as well.

Women in the front lines. Women marching with the men. Women taunting the police and running in the streets. And one young woman, 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan, being shot and killed. Her name means “voice” or “calling” in Farsi and she has been dubbed the “Angel of Iran” by her countrymen.

I heard a telephone interview on CNN with a woman in Tehran describing how she’d been beaten in the streets one day, but went back the next day anyway. And of how she’d been told to run away but refused, because her ankle had already been injured and she couldn’t run. When asked if she threw stones at the police, she explained that, no, she and other women gathered stones for the men to throw because the men, with their strength, could throw harder and farther.

I heard an Iranian man explain that they call these women shirzanan, meaning “lioness.” I cannot think of a greater tribute to their bravery and determination.

Help the Iranians using Twitter


Update, June 21: Either I forgot to save it after I changed my Twitter time and loc to Tehran, or somebody subsequently deleted the settings. Couldn’t hurt to check yours again if you made similar changes.

I don’t tweet, or follow Twitter, or even have a phone with a keyboard on it. But late last night I came across the following suggestion on how to help the people in Iran keep their access to Twitter, one of their few remaining ways of communicating with each other:

If anyone is on Twitter, set your location to Tehran and your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut Iranians’ access to the internet down! We must help them! Cut & paste & pass it on! Go Humans!!!

Also found it posted here.

Iranian demonstrators won’t be silenced


UPDATE: Tuesday, June 16 — Reportedly seven people were killed at the Monday rally.


My heart goes out to the Iranian people. They were so excited, so enthusiastic about their election and what looked like a very real opportunity to vote in a new era for their nation.

Then the repressive Iranian government moved in and began jamming electronic communications and shutting down social networking, print media, and international reporting. The dust had not yet settled when the winner was announced — Ahmadinejad. Forty million handwritten ballots had been counted in a matter of hours. Suspicious, to say the least.

Hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters rallied today in Tehran for a third day of protest as the world watches and waits to see how the matter is resolved. There’s nothing outsiders can or should do, but as unarmed students continue to challenge the power and authority of their government, one can’t help but wish them well.

The only real surprise so far is that the demonstrations have been allowed to continue for this long; dictators generally don’t tolerate embarrassing public opposition. I’d love to see the people of Iran win this one.