Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Dar al Hayat from Saudi Arabia writes: "...unless the Iranian people start insulting Khomeini himself instead of Khamenei, the chances are slim for a second popular revolution that would compensate for the first one." My theory for improving Iran is like Whoman's, start with the easier, social issues like traffic. But if things were to really change, the omnipresent pictures should come down. However, the last thing to change in Iraq was the statues.

The BBC enlightens the outside world about the problems within the universities, if Mehdi's post below and ibelievethat Sharif students didn't explain it for you. "I pray for the day happiness shines on all women and men in Iran."

Time for reformers to resign by Ahmad Sadri. "A political system devoid of resignations must be viewed with suspicion." It was an excellent article.

Iranians write to the BBC. There are some people who are just like Khamenei living in a dream world: "I used to dream of living in the US. But under George W Bush it has become a police state, far worse than Iran and perhaps as bad as Nazi Germany." When I was in the US (March and April 2003) I saw many many peaceful protests about all sorts of issues (the Iraq war, sugar companies, the Everglades in Florida, even signs all through Americus, GA saying the mayor and police chief were part of an "axis of evil" and should be fired - "boot chief yates"!) and there were no thugs to beat anyone up. The worst that happened was Clear Channel (lots of radio stations are owned by them) sponsoring pro-war rallies. Obviously this Iranian guy has never been there. There's so much ignorance about other countries, all over the world, what can I do?

I got some email from an American in NYC with the subject "Reality Check" and body "are you really blogging from Iran?" and I said "yes, why do you doubt me?". Then she wrote back and said "Because isn't Iran a police state where they will drag you into jail for saying human things and beat you up or worse?". And I have been thinking about how to answer this. Initially I was quite angry, like Salam Pax was, thinking "why doesn't she believe I'm in Iran?" Then I got the reply and realised it was a good question, it's difficult to see into Iran from the USA.

I want to start by being positive. (Steppenwolf got in trouble with someone for saying you can't have a boyfriend/girlfriend in Iran, which is not really true.) You can speak freely in taxis, or with people you know well. It's not like Russia under Stalin or Iraq under Saddam. There's no "secret police" to turn you in for making subversive statements privately. It is partly democratic. Many newspapers have been closed, but there's lots of political debate within limits in those that are still open. An American professor from New Jersey visited here a while ago, and you should read his report. Unless you say something loudly and publicly and non-anonymously, nothing will happen. Signing petitions is not a problem unless the mullahs think you're part of an organised group.

Problems occur if someone famous "says" something publicly in opposition to the mullahs, like Ahmad Batebi, Montazeri, Aghajari, Abbas-Amir Entezam, Ali Afshari, or something the mullahs don't like, like Sina Motallebi, or lots of other political prisoners whose names I can't remember.

But if you're a nobody like me, and you write anonymously and in English, no-one will care. (I hope.)

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