Friday, July 3, 2009

The Case Against Iran

Why should we care about what is happening in Iran? Are any of you worried that your lives will be impacted negatively by the civil unrest there? Do any you have a burning desire to spend your next vacation there? How many of you are eager to see such cultural attractions as a public hanging of a woman accused of adultery or a flogging of a girl for exposing some of her hair in public? Why should anyone living in the United States spend even a few seconds pondering the events unfolding there and their possible implications?

Despite the fact that we live thousands of miles from Iran, we are not immune to the events occurring there. The days of willful isolationism have ended. The people of the United States can no longer rely on the notion that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans provide sufficient buffers against any harm emanating from that region of the world. The tremendous distance between the United States and one of Iran’s neighbors, Afghanistan, did not prevent the launching of suicide attacks from the other side of the world on the United States on the eleventh of September 2001.
For thirty years, the Iranian regime has been involved in undeclared war against the United States. One of the first acts of the Islamic regime was the seizure of American embassy. On the fourth of November, 1979, militants backing the Islamic regime attacked the American embassy in Tehran and seized the occupants. The Iranian regime imprisoned these fifty Americans for four hundred forty-four days.

On three occasions in 1983, terrorists who received funding and logistical support from Iran attacked Americans. On the eighteenth of April, a suicide bomber from the Shiite terrorist group, Hezbollah, crashed a pickup truck laden with explosives into the American Embassy in Beirut. Seventeen Americans and forty-six others died as a result. On the twenty-third of October, Hezbollah struck in similar fashion; this time the group targeted the U.S. Marines’ barracks in Beirut. The Marines had been sent to Lebanon to serve as members of a multi-national peace-keeping force during the Lebanese civil war. On the twelfth of December of the same year, another Shiite terrorist organization supported by Iran, Al Dawa, sent a suicide truck bomber to attack the American embassy in Kuwait. Five people died and more than eighty suffered injuries.

Attacks on embassies and military installations are blatant acts of war. All embassies are considered sovereign territory of the nation-state maintaining the embassy, regardless of location. However, Americans failed to realize that they had been dragged in this war and refused to reply to repeated attacks.

Iranian regime has been involved in terrorism and other threats to peace and stability in the Middle East. Iranian-backed Hezbollah suicide bombers also struck the French peacekeepers in Beirut the same days as the attacks on the Marines’ barracks. Hezbollah members have repeatedly engaged in kidnappings of Lebanese Christians and foreign journalists, professor, members of the media and others since the mid-eighties. These same militants periodically fire rockets at Israeli civilians from inside Lebanese borders. They smuggle suicide bombers into Israel who then set off explosive vests full of shrapnel on buses or in other public places.
Additionally, the Iranian theocracy has been working to acquire nuclear technology for several years. One must question why a country possessing such an abundance of petroleum would pursue a more costly and less secure form of energy. Iran’s petroleum reserves, one of the largest in the world, serve as the foundation of its economy. Claims for the need to acquire atomic power appear, at best, as a bizarre waste of resources considering Iran’s staggering illiteracy and poverty rates. These problems will only continue to mount considering that nearly a majority of the population is less than thirty years old. Ahmadinejad’s bellicose pronouncements against Israel, the United States and anyone else who may oppose Iranian hegemony in the Middle East betray his regime’s true, malignant designs for the acquisition and implementation of nuclear capability.

Iranians have been suffering under yoke of totalitarian government for thirty years. A pretense of representative democracy has existed in Iran since the revolution. However, these elections should be misconstrued as free and open. All candidates for any office must receive approval by the Guardian Council, twelve men appointed by the true leader of Iran, the unelected and unimpeachable Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Anyone deemed insufficiently adherent to Shiism is disqualified. In the parliamentary elections of 2008, this despotic dozen barred nearly two thousand of the nine thousand candidates who applied to run for seats. Political debates are illegal. No political advertisements ever appear on Iranian television which a governmental monopoly.

Azeri Turks, an ethnic minority comprising a quarter of the Iranian population, are targets of slander in governmental media. News reports have portrayed Azeris as cockroaches and dimwits because Azeris typically speak Farsi, the official language of Iran, with difficulty. The Persian majority of the regime has outlawed the use of Turkish names for geographic locations and children. The mere act of printing anything in Turkish has been deemed a criminal offense.

The Arab minority in Iran face continuous harassment and loss of property. The Arab minority lives in the southwestern portion of Iran. The government regularly seizes their property to give to the burgeoning Persia populace. When the Arabs protest, they are rounded up under the charge of subverting the Shiite regime as agents of the Saudi kingdom.

Oppression of women has been sited as one of the contributing factors to the tumult. An entire generation has grown up under Islamic tyranny yet the governmental propaganda has not fully brainwashed all of those born since the establishment of the Shiite regime. Iranian women and girls catch glimpses of liberated women across the world despite the extensive censorship of foreign media by the Islamic morality police. They realize that women elsewhere do not endure beatings, fines or imprisonment for not covering their hair or wearing anything other than shapeless and oppressively uncomfortable outfits.

Multiple forms of legalized sexual exploitation and abuse haunt Iranian women. Three decades have been blighted with the executions of women and girls for offenses such as adultery, many of whom were in fact raped and did not consent to any extramarital sexual acts. Thousands of teenaged girls from impoverished rural families have been sold off to men in their forties or older. These arranged marriages last only short-term, leaving the girls as destitute as before but also stigmatized as a discarded wife. Additionally, Iranian law permits de facto prostitution under the moniker of “temporary marriages”. These arrangements consist of a man signing a legal contract with a pre-determined termination date of the so-called marriage and a sum paid to the woman. These marriages typically last only a few days or even hours, depending on the whim of the man signing the document.

Persecution of religious minorities has grown rampant under the Islamic theocracy. Applicants to universities must pass a test of knowledge of Shiite Islam, even those Iranian citizens who belong to another sect of Islam or to another religion altogether. Laws forbid the scriptures of any other religion to be translated in Farsi. Only Shiites are allowed to evangelize; members of any other religious group face imprisonment or execution for trying to convert Shiites Iranians to any other faith. All religious minorities must serve in the Iranian military but are barred from becoming officers. If a Shiite kills a non-Shiite, the Shiite cannot be executed under Iranian law. If one member of a non-Shiite family converts to Islam, then that convert automatically inherits all of his/her family’s property regardless of the family’s wishes. If an Iranian was born and raised as a Shiite, he/she faces execution for leaving Islam to accept another religion.

The Jewish population has dwindled to twenty-five percent of its total before the Islamic Revolution. Iranian Jews are forbidden to travel as an entire family outside of the country to prevent their emigration. They are not allowed to operate their own private schools. Officials of the Islamic regime control the school with obvious antagonism such as mandating Saturday as a school day, in violation of the Jewish Sabbath. Any Jewish protests against the hostile policies result in arrests, imprisonment or executions on baseless charges of espionage or subversion under the auspices of Israel.

Since the beginning of Ahmadinejad’s presidency four years ago, persecution of Sufis, a minority sect of Islam, has increased remarkably. Agents of the Shiite regime have destroyed Sufis’ place of worship, shrines and other locations where Sufis gather. Additionally, Sufis are regularly arrested then flogged or forced to sign documents renouncing Sufism.

Christians in Iran have endured oppression since the early days of the Islamic regime. Assyrians and Armenians, ethnic minorities who are Christians, constantly endure governmental surveillance of their religious services. The Ministry of Islamic Guidance has ordered the closing of many churches and other Christian buildings, including all their bookstores in 1990. The Iranian government forbids both groups to accept any new members among other ethnicities in the country.
Zoroastrians, the majority of the people in pre-Islamic Iran, suffer oppression as well. Their faith predates Islam by at least a thousand, seven hundred years yet less than hundred thousand at the present time. They face the same third-class status as other religious minorities.

Bahais, another indigenous religious sect, have not even received the flimsy promises of tolerance accorded to Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians by the Shiite government. This persecution persists despite the fact that the Bahai faith originated in the mid-nineteenth century in Iran when it was called Persia. Almost immediately after Ayatollah Khomeini and his legions seized power in 1978, the mullahs exhorted the followers to pillage Bahai temples and assault the congregants.

The Iranian theocracy has demonstrated similarities to other repressive regimes since its inception thirty years ago. Totalitarian regimes have engaged in banning of any use of minorities languages. The fascist government of Spain suppressed all public use of the Basque and Catalan languages by those two ethnicities. The Communist Chinese government has engaged in a systematic effort to eliminate the Tibetan language and distinctive culture. The Nazi and Soviet regimes fanned the flames of religious hostility toward their Jewish population to rally support for wide-spread imprisonment and seizure of Jewish property. Popular revolts against tyranny met ruthless crackdowns just as those which occurred in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and in Nazi-occupied Warsaw in 1943. The mullahs in charge of Iran have either modeled their oligarchy on preceding authoritarian factions or are engaging in a frightening similar coincidence.

The current resistance movement has been swelling for years. The suspicious outcome of this presidential election only served as the tipping point. Years of misogyny, ethnic chauvinism and religious persecution have all contributed to the boiling cauldron that Iran has become. Finally, the contentious situation has boiled over and spilled into the streets throughout Iran.

The United States stood by passively when the Islamic militants toppled the Shah of Iran. Granted, the Shah headed an autocratic and corrupt regime. However, the most egregious sins of the monarchy pale in comparison to the totalitarians currently in power in Iran. The consequences of the outcome of this tumult far outweigh any importance associated with the death of an androgynous pop singer or that of faded sex symbol from the 1970s.

All of these examples I have cited should motivate every American to support efforts to assist the toppling of the Iranian theocracy. The United States must organize an international boycott of Iran petroleum. Additionally, American naval forces should lead a blockade of Iranian ports used to export its petroleum. Without the profits from the sale of its petroleum, the Iranian regime will soon collapse. Then all of the citizens can unite to establish a true republic with legitimate multi-party elections, equality under the law for women and the end of antagonism toward non-Shiites and non-Persians. Finally, this undeclared war will come to an en


Sources for this article: