The thing with the Islamic Republic of Iran is, that is an oxymoron. All theocracies seem hypocritical. While everything is political, including our class, race, education, religion, and so on, I fail to see how a religious state is true to whatever faith it claims to uphold.
As far as the three major world religions are concerned (I cannot speak too much on other religions as I am less familiar with them) all humans are equal, god is merciful, peace and harmony are ideal, so on and so forth. So then, how can a country like Iran justify what is going on right now? How can the religious leaders of Iran claim Islam as their guiding force when they are arresting people like Ebrahim Yazdi, who was in hospital? Apparently Yazdi’s work is a threat to the Iranian state. What about the arrest of Maziar Bahari, a journalist for Newsweek? These are people who are getting coverage because of who they are. There are plenty of others who have been arrested, killed, and are fighting against the government.
So here it is, here is why Iran is not an Islamic state: The Islam I was taught is one that calls for each follower to be their own leader. The Qu’ran is a guide, and accompanying it are the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and the 12 Imams (like saints in Catholicism). It is up to each Muslim to be their own teacher, to use the Qu’ran and the words and life lessons of the prophet and the saints to determine how to practice, what is right, what is wrong. There are things that are clearly laid out, and others that are not. And most Muslims do follow one or two ore maybe more people they consider to be more knowledgeable than themselves. Someone who is well versed in Arabic and the Qu’ran, like those men who sit on the Guardian Council, but even then, Islam is very much a faith of independence. It is about one’s relationship with the creator and themselves.
People who want to follow Khamanei, great. Go for it. But how can Khamanei really call himself a true Islamic leader when he condones Islam being forced on people? This is not Islam. And isn’t that one of the classic arguments we Muslims have? That people like Osama bin Laden do not represent us. His Islam is not true Islam. It’s like saying George Bush represents Christianity. I am fairly certain that Jesus would not invade Afghanistan or Iraq. He also would not plant military bases across the world. And let’s face it, while the US may not officially be called a theocracy, a lot that goes on here is determined by religion. The last time I checked though, god did not really care about being stamped on money, or denying women and people of color and queers their rights. But hey, what do I know?
What I fear is that Iranians who are fighting will make the same mistake that was made 30 years ago. That they will go from one extreme to the other. The revolution 30 years ago was supported by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. And then the Shah was removed and one force took over another. Again, where is Islam in here? True Islam.
Here comes my next question. I was talking to a fellow Iranian and we were discussing violence when fighting oppression. When people are backed into a corner how else can they react but with violence? And when confronted with violence from the state, of course people will fight back with whatever means necessary (yes, this is a reference to Brother Malcolm X). So here is the real question, assuming that those fighting for a different regime in Iran are victorious, how will they be any different? Will they set up a state that has a military? Will they enforce their laws and rules with violence as well? Will they arrest anyone and everyone opposed to their laws? I think that violence can be a very necessary action against oppression, but what happens when the violence does not end? What happens when the cycle continues just from a different ruler or state and for a different purpose?
Why is violence from the state – military and police – acceptable, but people fighting back is not? And why do we accept some people fighting back? The US government uses tear gas, guns, and arrests protesters, but then this same government supports Iranian protesters…?! Sounds to me like unrest in Iran is self-serving for the US. And are the same people over here in the US who are calling for a free Iran – whatever the hell that means, let’s define things people – the type to protest US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? Do they stand up for US folks who protest the wars, who protested George Bush stealing office, who continue to fight against the military and institutions like The School of the Americas? Maybe they just want Iranian women to take their scarves off, wear bikinis, and get breast implants…FREEEEEEEEEDOM!