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IRANIANS ASPIRE FOR SECULARITY

By Safa Haeri
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2004

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PARIS, 25 Mar. (IPS) According an Iranian scholar, the last elections proves that the present clerical regime of Iran, being not reformable, has reached its end.

In an interview carried on Wednesday by the French Communist Party organ "L’Humantie", Ramin Kamran, who teaches at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations in Paris describes the latest legislative elections to a "metaphor" in the Islamic Republic, where candidates are "pre-selectionned" by the non-elcted Council of the Guardians.

"To speak about elections within the framework of an Islamic regime is a metaphor, since from the beginning, the elections were reserved to the islamist candidates. Thus these elections do not change anything radically with the ongoing policies nor, naturally, in the nature of the regime. At the bottom, these elections are kind of regularly organized plebiscites of which the principal goal is to show that people, while going to vote, support the regime in its entirety. What is important is the rate of participation which counts, not for who one votes. At the end, it is white turban and turban white. In this fight between the factions, of which I am not sure that one can regard them as "reformers" on one side and "conservatives" on the other, one faction had been evicted from the Parliment under the pressure of the other".

L’Humanite - One all the same saw a dichotomy between "Islamic reformers" and "secular reformers"?

Ramine Kamran - There are only turbanned islamists and islamists without turban. For twenty-five years, the number of islamists without turban has always been very large. There is no difference on Islamism, the heritage of Khomeyni or on the Constitution. The two largest factions are in fact made up of many smaller factions, and are alliances which, in fact, face each other in a tribal manner. One sees various political tendencies among reformers but these differences do not go beyond the islamist regime. In the other camp, which has just won, there is no more homogeneity. On occasions, these small factions can change camp. If people do not vote, it is because they think that there is nothing at stake. Khatami lost the credit which he enjoyedd since he first was elected.

L’Humanite - There is a paradox: On the one hand, one witnesses a reinforcement of political Islam within the Moslem world, and on the other, in Iran, people seem to be rejecting it?

Ramine Kamran - It is normal: It was from Iran that the Islamist movement first started. The Iranians were the first to judge on experience the merits of an islamist regime. And they were the first to reject it. The others always have the illusion, the utopia, as well as other motivations which push them, wrongly, to think that Islamism can be regarded as a solution. In my opinion, Islamism is a problem, not a solution.

L’Humanite - One did not see a popular movement supporting the reformers when they were facing an iron arm from the part of the conservatives just a few weeks before the elections. From where can the solution come?

Ramin Kamran - The students, more than any other class in Iran, express the aspirations of the society. Since 1999, their rupture was consumed with Khatami. They descended in the street to claim a free regime, democracy and secularity. This is the first time in the Moslem world where the request for secularity comes from the body of the society. Until now this demand has always been imposed from the top under authoritative state -- Atatürk or Pahlavi --.This time, and in reaction against the islamist regime, it is the reverse. Without exaggerating, one can put this movement in parallel with what which occurred in Europe in XVIe and the XVIIe centuries, after the wars of religion, where the idea of tolerance emerged and imposed itself. People in Iran aspire to secularity. In other words, they want no more mollah and no more religion in politics. Can one live in democracy in a religious regime? I don’t think, and this is an extremely widespread idea in Iran. People want to go towards secularity, towards a secular system where there could be democracy, therefore equality of the citizens, therefore religious tolerance and so on. From this point of view, there is no solution but by getting out of this regime. That is called a revolution. Everyone wish that this is accomplished with the least possible violence. However, nad in anyway it happens, it would be the end of the khomeinist regime.

L’Humanite – And who would carry this idea?

Ramin Kamran – I can’t tell you. Sine the assassination of Shapour Bakhtiar, who, after Mosadeq, was the greatest figure of liberal and secular democracy in Iran, there is no a federating personality. However, with the idea being well generalised, well rooted and widespread, one can be certain that one day or another, somebody would emerge. The important point is the the people have undestood what is really a stake. ENDS KHOMEINISM 25304

Editor’s note: Ramin Kamran has just published "Islamism in Impass" in Éditions Buchet-Chastel.

 



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