Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Khatami Speaks Out

Baran or the Foundation for Prosperity, Progress and Freedom of Iran was established in 2005 as a non-governmental organization by former President Khatami. The Foundation aims to compile and document the experiences of two rounds of reformist government in Iran. The gains, losses and lessons learnt need to be objectively analysed and understood as a worthwhile experience of governance in the Islamic Republic.
Some observers believe that the reform period has been one of the most successful era that Iran has experienced during the past century, in terms of achievements in economic growth, sustainable development, social and political advances and much more. They believe that this successful term of governance in the Islamic Republic is worth studying in depth. Baran has begun a series of sessions on the principles and and basic precepts of the reform movement in Iran. The theoretical basics of reform discourse and the understanding that Khatami is expected to provide in this respect is discussed in each round.
In each session President Khatami presents his perspectives and then questions are put forward from the audience. The third session in these series was held tonight. Hundreds had attended and Khatami spoke clearly about certain features of the Constitution which are not properly upheld and which need to be precisely implemented. No power structure is left without oversight and regulation according to the Constitution, he said and even the Leader is held accountable for his actions based on certain articles of the Constitution.
Khatami mentioned that one of the best memories of his two terms as President was the moment when in 2004 students in Tehran University harshly criticized him following the speech he delivered. We have a long history of despotism, colonialism, tyranny and imperialism in Iran, he noted and now after the Revolution we are only learning to implement democracy , freedom and authentic religious values. The fact that a student could criticise the power structure and directly address the President without any fear of retribution was a great leap forward, and I felt proud he said.
I think what Khatami mentioned is an important experience for power structures in both developing and industrial societies. Freedom in the true meaning of the word is not limited to individual freedoms, lifestyle , and enjoyment but it is the freedom to choose for one's destiny, to question governing policies, to move upstream against the mainstream current. Very few governments in today's world can tolerate those standards . Democracy is a very common and regularly used term that has apparently lost its true meaning in many societies, both Eastern and Western.


Anonymous said...

dear Dr. Ebtekar, I hope you will post this comment even though the link I'm providing is from the website of a freedom movement in Iran for which it is not very politically convenient for you to show any sympathy! but remember, just b/c one of your readers supports the far left of Iran's political spectrum (i.e. the Freedom Movement of Iran founded by the late Prime Minister Bazargan and martyrs Dr. Shariati, Dr. Chamran, Ayatollah Taleghani, ...), doesn't mean YOU are supporting them, so please don't censor me on this one!

President Khatami and all the other guests of today's Parliament extravaganza in Iran's Majlis which was organized by Dr. Larijani this morning in order to bring all the old parliamentarians of the last 8 terms (since 1979) together and pay tribute to them, may be all good and "innovative" (ebtekar-aamiz!) and not bad for such an INTOLERANT group of people (especially this 8th and the previous one the 7th Majlis), but the problem is much bigger than to be solved by just people getting together and padding each other in the back and pretending to be INCLUSIVE of all views!!! but again, not bad for such a closed society, that it is at least starting to open up again!

What needs to be focused on though, is the question of how to STOP the reactionary practices of the past 30 years and how to start welcoming intellectuals into that parliament as opposed to letting any "mafaatih expert" with a 6th grade education into the lawmaking assembly of a great nation determined to progress! read this interview please:

I wish they had an English version of it, but the point is that YOU IRI people get to hear these voices.

Anna said...

Dear Dr. Ebtekar, why did you NOT post this earlier comment of mine? I'm just calling it as I see it!!! sometimes some of your radical people need to be reminded that Iran is NOT a superpower like it was 2500 ago!!!! geez!!! ... please post it this time, maybe your rival politicians will read it and tell their followers to get off their high horses!!!

I wrote this yesterday:
I just have one more thing to say about President Obama's new administration and what Iranians should understand from it:

Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the new American foreign minister means there will be NO talks with Ahmadinejad, ... capiche?!

So, to those radical Ahmadinejad supporters who've got it into their heads that there would ever be any "dovish" stance taken by the Obama administration with regard to the dangerous and controversial policies advocated by that little man they love so much, dream on!!!!

Obama did not promise to be soft on you, he promised to take rational decisions and start negotiations without the hurdle of a "suspension of enrichment" demand, that's all!

so if you really wanna help yourselves, what you need to do, is replace that guy with a rational man, and then see what happens in those negotiations, otherwise there won't even be any!!!

btw, the people who've written these self-aggrandizing comments underneath this article:

must be totally living in a dream world!!!! who do they think they are???? !!!! a superpower???? ....

you better be prepared to swallow some of that unjustified excessive pride, and come down to earth if you wanna improve your standing in the world!

of course Iranians are proud people, but this is not the era of Avecina and Khayyam and Razi!!! if you wanna get there again, you first need to get out of the title of "Pariah State"!

December 2, 2008 5:29 AM

Anonymous said...

I just read this statement by President Khatami, made on the wake of the Mumbai vicious terrorist attacks:

it's not bad, it's actually better than what Ayatollah Khamenei has said which is ironically NOTHING!!! but here I was hoping Iran and the pro-democracy Khatami-loving Iranian people would take the lead as they did on the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and show MUCH more disgust for these murderers who have been ruining the reputation of their great religion for the past few decades!!! I thought they would come out again (as they did on September 12th of 2001) and hold candlelit vigils in support and solidarity with their Eastern brothers and sisters in India with whom we have such strong cultural ties over centuries and centuries!!!
I wrote this on President Khatami's website as an email that I thought might get to him, but I doubt that it has :-(

Dear President Khatami,
Here's the chance for Iranians to show their support for the Indian people, holding candlelit vigils for the citizens of Mumbai as they did for the citizens of NYC in 2001, and counter this barbarian portrayal of Muslims that is being emphasized on by Fox News and other anti-Islam, anti-Obama, anti-peace and security media apparatus which is taking its MOST advantage of this tragic and vicious attack by the "zalleen" astray impostors who call themselves Mujahedeen but are in fact the MOST dangerous enemies of genuine Islam!

This is an opportunity for your anti-fundamentalist enlightened Reformist movement to come out (and bring out people) in droves in a huge nation-wide peaceful demonstration AGAINST terrorism in the name of its beloved Islam. Don't you think you should call for such a peaceful demonstration if Iran really hopes to represent itself as the beacon of PEACE and Islamic Democracy in the Muslim world?

Isn't it time for Iran to prove to the world that it takes its role as the most civilized and influential member of the Muslim world and custodian of the Islamic civilization (which we inherited from OUR Ghazzali and Razi and Attar and Avesina and ...) much more seriously than any of these Arab nations who falsely represent themselves as th leaders of the Muslim world just because Prophet Mohammad happened to have been born on their land???
Sir, I hope this tragedy can turn into Muslim world's most devastating blow to its worst enemy which is none other than the hateful ideology of fanatical fascists and terrorists who dirty the face of our great religious in the eyes of the West, and to defeat the illiterate "zalleen" Taliban and AlQaeda sympathizers who have managed to cause nothing but war and destruction on the poor people of the Muslim world over the past 7 years!

Sir, not only you should make a statement condemning this terrorist act, but also Ayatollah Khamenei should now be taking leadership, and as the founder of the "Islamic Unity Charter" that was signed by all members of the OIC last year in Tehran, he should call for a "Billion Man March" around the world of Islam, in every town, every city, every capital, to CONDEMN terrorist acts in the name of Islam, and to pledge solidarity with the Indians and Pakistanis and Afghans to help them root out this threat faced by our common religion, from Shiite to Sunni, from secular to religious people.

I just read the news of Dr. Larijani's speech in Jakarta today, in which he talked about "the era of unilateralism being over". Doesn't Iran recognize that for it to be taken seriously by this new Obama World of fair, just, multilateral-minded, diplomatic solution-seeking power centers, IRAN needs to show itself to be an influential player (as it was during the Chechnyan crisis, and during the Afghan war, ...) who can join hands with other civilized Muslim nations (like Egypt and Turkey) and represent the Muslim World as one of those multilateral powers?
Best Regards,

Dr. Ebtekar I hope you will post this comment, maybe a friend of Ayatollah Khamenei will read it and share the imagery of a "Billion Man March" with him, one can hope!

Anna said...

In case some of your 41000 readers would be interested in reading about some "first hand" memories of the 1979 Iranian revolution:


Anonymous said...

sounds good, eh?!

I wish I was "somebody" and could go in front of the Senate, giving them my two cents about how to affect positive "change" in dealing with Iran, but hopefully people like Vali Nasr and Trita Parsi and Ray Takiyeh will get to go and tell them all the RIGHT things!

btw, the reason I am such a persistent supporter of a Haddad-Adel presidency next year, is his close relationship with Vali Nasr's father! and of course AGAIN, who better as his foreign minister than everybody's BELOVED Dr. Zarif?!

Zarif All The Way!

soleslide said...

No amount of democracy will do Iran any good unless it's leaders stop making threats to wipe other countries off the face of the planet. If Iran wants to be taken seriously and as something other than a threat to the community of nations it must engage responsibly. Making threatening gestures to attract attention are not the hallmarks of a mature country. Iran must show the world it has more to offer than just natural gas and crude oil. Only then will meaningful relationships develop and blossom. Otherwise, if you behave like a radical you will be treated as one.

Anna said...

This SHOULD be watched by the ENTIRE world:

and a note to Mr. Soleslide in Mumbai:

Watch this video before you make such statements!!!

Anna said...

another note to Mr. Soleslide whose comments on this post a few days ago, have made me feel like a teacher again, wanting to teach this young man some history lessons:

Dear Sir,
Knowledge of history is always the best tool we can rely upon in order to better understand our present time political events and trends.
For example, let's look at the revolution which was the main source of inspiration and model for the American Revolution, i.e., the French Revolution:
After 80 years since the actual revolution, and after too much bloodshed (guillotine beheading, etc.) and disappointment, not to mention after it was stolen by Napoleon Bonaparte who turned it into an Empire and structured it as a monarchy again, the French Revolution eventually led to the formation of modern France based on Enlightenment principles of nationalism, citizenship, and inalienable rights.

Remember, Iran's revolution only happened 30 years ago!!!

My uncle was a historian, which is why as ENLIGHTENED and modern as he was, but he never approved of those forces from outside Iran who insisted upon changing the course of history by FORCE. He knew better! After all, he had spent his entire life recounting the story of so much more resilience and survival from Iran in the course of its 2500 years civilization, that he was certain the dark times of anarchy which naturally occurs at the beginning of every revolution would eventually pass from the aftermath of Iran's 1979 revolution too!

The factor standing in the way of that NATURAL progress and evolution that if given a chance would have steered the ship of Iran's revolution toward the RIGHT direction too, was the constant THREAT of Coup d'Etat, Regime Change, and Military Invasion by outside forces!!!! These threats were real, and they still exist! The first go of it was actually tasted by Iranians during the very first 8 years of this brand new baby revolution (1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war in which the entire world supported Saddam, East and West alike!), and that was the beginning of a dark period in Iranian people's lives when enthusiastic revolutionary young people started to see their beloved FREEDOM which they thought they had just achieved in the Spring of 1979, being more and more limited and eventually taken away from them because the country had to come together to fight the invaders!!! That war derailed the whole democratic movement (of the Constitutional Revolution, 1908) which had taken 70 years to finally culminate in the victory of the 1979 revolution, and after that first decade of war-stricken misery, there were more urgent needs to address in a country of 60 million (at the time) than Freedom and Democracy! Needs like:
working toward Economic Self Sufficiency, working toward building relationships and gaining the trust of hostile neighbors, teaching the basic concepts of democracy and civil society to a whole new young generation who didn't know anything about the principles and ideals of their forefathers' revolution, and most importantly rebuilding a devastated country, with an embattled infrastructure that had just survived a bloody 8 year war with the most brutal Hitler of our times who had bought stockpiles of Chemical and Biological weapons from his American and European friends only to use them on Iranians as well as his own Kurdish population!

So, dear Sir, you see? It's easy to talk down to people when we don't know anything about them, their history and their civilization! But, how nice it would be for people to read or at least to use this wonderful invention of internet to "google" some facts about other countries, before we start the very tasteless practice of "talking down" to people!

Let's take some inspiration from humanity's greatest geniuses from the age of Enlightenment:

My MOST favorite composer in the WORLD who has shaped a lot of who I am (b/c I grew up listening to his genius symphonies as if they were the voice of God), i.e., Ludwig van Beethoven was attracted to the ideals of the Enlightenment in Europe, so he initially dedicated his third symphony, the Eroica (Italian for "heroic"), to Napoleon, believing that he actually intended to sustain the democratic and republican ideals of the French Revolution, but in 1804, when Napoleon's imperial ambitions became clear, Beethoven took hold of the title-page of his symphony and scratched the name Bonaparte out so violently that he made a hole in the paper. He later changed the work's title to "Sinfonia Eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d'un grand'uom" ("Heroic Symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man"), and he rededicated it to his patron, Prince Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz. The fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony (which is my most favorite piece of music in the whole wide world, and ALWAYS makes me not only cry but sob like a baby) also features an elaborate choral setting of Schiller's Ode An die Freude ("Ode to Joy"), an optimistic hymn championing the brotherhood of humanity!

You might most probably NOT know this, but Schiller and Goethe who were the fathers of Romanticism in Europe, were heavily influenced by their study and fascination about the work and thoughts of one of Iran's most revered Persian poets, Hafez. This is evidenced in Goethe's West-Eastern Divan, as sited in any encyclopedia you refer to as: a collection of poems in the Persian style, influenced by the work of Hafez.