Friday, January 14, 2005

Free Iran!

Click here for AmazonShortly after the reelection of George W. Bush a website was established showing photos of young Americans holding signs apologizing to the world for, among many things, our country having spearheaded the toppling of one of the world’s most brutal regimes. A corollary could be post WWII Americans apologizing to the world for having helped end Nazi Germany’s genocidal tyranny.

But those morally misguided Americans are not the only ones embarrassed and ashamed of their country. In fact, in the Middle East there is a nation whose behavior has compelled some of its sons and daughters to refer to themselves as “Persians” instead of “Iranians,” often because of the embarrassing associations connected with "Iran"...

...But unlike many Arab and other Islamic countries, the vast majority of Iranians are fed up with Islam dominating their lives. The 1979 Islamic Revolution that ushered in Islamic government has been an abject failure. It has turned Iran into an impoverished pariah state on a dangerous collision course with the West.

The ruling clerics viciously oppress the entire Iranian population, especially religious minorities and secular Iranians. Perhaps most oppressed are two of Iran’s indigenous religions, Bahaism and Zoroastrianism The former is a harmless faith that teaches the unity and betterment of humankind. The latter is the ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran whose motto is “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” The term “discrimination” does not do justice to describe the treatment meted out to Bahais and Zoroastrians; “decimation” is perhaps more apt.

And then there are Persian Jews- the oldest Jewish community outside of the land of Israel. At one time a thriving community, since 1979 the majority fled the rabid anti-Semitism of the Islamic revolution. The remaining Jews are unable to visit or communicate with their relatives in Israel and live under constant intimidation by Iranian security services.

But life in Iran is not much better for the majority Muslim population either. Shariah, or Islamic law, is the law of the land. Apostasy or leaving Islam are punishable by death. For women or young girls who have been convicted of extra or premarital sex, death by stoning is sometimes the preferred mode of execution. Unlike a hanging, death by stoning is an intentionally long and agonizing death. On numerous occasions Iran has executed children as young as fifteen.

Iran is also a huge state sponsor of terrorism. The Lebanese-based Hezbullah, the “Party of God,” has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans since the 1980’s. Financed and trained by Iran, Hezbullah is the first Islamist group to perfect suicide bombings. Iran also supports Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas- two terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel and responsible for the deaths of nearly a thousand innocent Israelis. Belying the oft-heard mantra that “We only hate “Zionists, not Jews,” Hezbullah and Iran are widely believed responsible for the July 18, 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. This would be the equivalent of blowing up the Jewish Community Center in your own community. To this day it remains the most deadly anti-Semitic incident anywhere since World War II.

Iran is also meddling in Iraq. According Iyad Allawi, Prime Minister of the Iraqi interim government, Iran has been attempting to destabilize Iraq by supporting radical Shiite groups; and according to Secretary of State Colin Powel, Iran has also lent support to arch-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

And if all that weren’t enough, Iran is dangerously close to obtaining nuclear weapons capability.

The danger of a country like Iran having nuclear weapons cannot be overstated. MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction, was the policy that prevented the US and the Soviet Union from all out nuclear war. The logic behind MAD being that the Soviets did not want to die, nor did we, and so a certain détente was reached.

But how could MAD work with an adversary that worships death?

On December 14, 2001 former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani declared that “the use of a nuclear bomb on Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.” In other words, tiny Israel would be destroyed by a single Islamic nuclear bomb, but the one billion-strong Islamic world would be able to withstand any Israeli counter-strike, despite the loss of millions of Muslim lives residing in the country that attacked Israel.

This blatant call for genocide should be a wake up call for the world because by all accounts Iran is frighteningly close to having nuclear weapons capability, as well as the capacity to deliver such weapons as far as Europe.

But the silver lining in all of this is that the clerics in Iran are intensely unpopular with most Iranians. The US and every peace-loving nation should do everything in their power to encourage Iranian democrats to topple the nightmare rule of the clerics once and for all. A democratic Iran would have far-reaching, positive implications for the region, not to mention the people of Iran.

The world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism would be out of business. Iraq and Afghanistan would have a peaceful democratic neighbor. Terror-supporting Syria would lose its closest ally. Perhaps most importantly, the wider Middle East would take note that the first country to usher in Islamic revolution finally repudiated that ideology in favor of democracy, freedom and human rights.

Discarded Lies: Free Iran

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