14 dhj 2009

Ayatollah’s Dilemma

It was almost 10 years ago, 1999, in which I was admitted to university. Ayatollah appeared almost frustrated on TV; his fans even more depressed, crying as though they had no other option. Sobbingly speaking, he said, “even if they burn my picture or tear it down, you should keep silent.” And the crowd burst into tears, frantically.

It certainly was a great development. The previously perceived sacredness seemed defenseless, at least temporarily. Whatever the reasons, Supreme Leader decided not to confront people’s angriness which demonstrated itself in publicly disrespecting him.

Perhaps Ayatollah used to think that his tolerance could work as a safety tube, sort of a painkiller that could help relieve some pain and calm down angry demonstrators. He was right in making sense of the role played by those kinds of acts. However, he certainly was not much familiar with Golden Rule of medicines: that painkillers can work no more than a limited period; and if the real cause is not to be cured, the patient shall need a stronger painkiller.

10 years later, 2009. In demonstrations of Student Day, some people burnt a picture of Ayatollah Khomeini, late founder of Islamic Republic. The scene was aired several times on national TV. Many religious lecturers around the nation decried the event. Many demonstrations were arranged in which scores of people demanded heavy-handed response to the perpetrators. Interesting enough was that a poster of Ayatollah Khamenei was also torn down in those demonstrations and its captured scenes were aired along with those of Ayatollah Khomeini. And almost nobody paid a special attention to that. Publicly disrespecting the Supreme Leader had lost its effect, kind of a dead painkiller.

One might argue that IRI strategists are far away from realizing the current world, the age of information, in which basing a political system on sacredness no longer works. Some others might speak of Ayatollah’s dilemma; that neither forgiving the offense nor cracking it down can do him a favor. In my turn to speak, I just silently wonder what the painkiller of 2019 might be.

14 tet 2009

Arab [leaders]’ reaction to Zionists’ aggression to Al-Aqsa mosque


Note: According to Islamic rules, pig is an inherently unclean animal whose dirtiness can not be wiped away using water.

Source

30 gsh 2009

Dealing behind the scenes

It was almost ten days after disputed presidential election in Iran that I talked to a friend of mine. Massive rallies of reform supporters in Tehran and a few other cities had turned violent, many prominent reformist figures were under arrest and some demonstrators had been killed.

By then, it was almost clear that dissidents could not overthrow Ahmadinejad administration and fulfill their primary dream, i.e. annulling the election or convincing the regime that Musavi should take the power.

My friend had a point: if reform movement was about to give in, it either should achieve something big enough to make its supporters believe “it’s worth what we’ve done, now let’s give up;” or it had to come up with a justified reason to demand an end to demonstrations. In either case, their supporters needed a reason to quit.

The regime, however, was not ready to compromise, believing that it had the upper hand. Reformers had no winning card to take the regime to negotiations table. Hardliner propaganda machine upped the ante, trying to take advantage of the situation, even seeking for the trial of Musavi. Ultra-conservatives claimed that Musavi and reformist movement were responsible for the death of citizens and damages caused to public and private properties for they conducted allegedly illegal demonstrations.

Reformists’ struggle was seemingly bound to fail. They were under harsh criticism of hardliner centers for being connected to foreign powers, trying to destabilize Islamic Republic, and orchestrating a velvet revolution.

By then, there was a widespread rumor that many people detained during demonstrations were tortured and killed in prisons. What turned the page was a piece of official news: son of a top official died in prison.

Mohsen Ruholamini, who was arrested in pro-reform demonstrations, reportedly died in Evin prison. His father was an advisor to Mohsen Rezayi, a member of Expediency Council, general secretary of Justice and Development Party (a moderate reformist party) and a former member of an influential conservative party. Rafsanjani, Rezayi, Zarghami (head of IRI state TV), and parliament speaker offered their respective condolences to his father.

Mohsen Ruholamini was apparently tortured in the prison. His death triggered a wave of criticism of what was going on in prisons. In an important development, Mahdi Karroubi publicly announced that he had found information and hard evidences showing that some prisoners were raped.

Since the very beginning of Islamic Revolution, there had been rumors regarding rape and torture in prisons. Top IRI officials, however, always rejected such accusations. In one case, serial killing of intellectuals by some intelligence agents, the case of torture in prisons got public. Rape, however, was a redline.

At first, regime was reluctant to admit. Lecturers of Friday prayers in the country unanimously criticized Karroubi. They even said that ‘if he fails to prove his accusations, he should be lashed 80 times’ (an Islamic penalty for those accusing an innocent person of adultery and rape).

After a while, rape and torture reports got a momentum. According to Parlemannews,

“A journalist was arrested in post-election demonstrations. For he had been in contact with the office of a senior official [usual slang for Ayatollah Khamenei] since several years ago, he was set free after two weeks. When he paid a visit to that senior official, he was asked to take a seat. But he refused, telling that he could not seat. He said that he was repeatedly raped by stick.”


The hole was too big for the regime to cover. Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the closure of a ‘non-standard prison’ in Kahrizak. A judge was suspended and some agents are waiting for trial.

It seems that the regime finally agreed to a limited compromise. In a speech delivered this week, Ayatollah Khamenei said that reformist leaders were not agents of foreign powers. He added that those who caused death and loss, regardless of their organizational affiliations, should be tried.

This may not be what reformists longed to achieve. However, given the circumstances, it was a noticeable outcome. They were about to be put aside as some ‘non-insiders.’ Moreover, torturing and raping prisoners is a blow to a regime that finds itself the pioneer of morality and Islam. This shall be remembered forever.

Finally, reformists got to save their face and credibility. And the regime is assured that protests are not to be continued, at least temporarily. It might be a deal behind the scene.

18 gsh 2009

Blood-Owners Rule

In Islamic Penal Code, the concept of Qisas refers to ‘Eye for an Eye’ principle according to which the offended party has the right to seek for retaliation. In the case of murder, close keens of the murdered, called Blood Owners, has the right to ask for capital punishment. They also can set conditions to let the murderer live. Islamic Penal Code does not limit the conditions they may set, save that the terms must not be in conflict with other Islamic decrees.

In some cases, enforcing this law leads to disturbing situations. Following is an example of such an event. According to Baztab,

A woman who had murdered her husband got married to her brother-in-law to escape death penalty. Razieh, who committed murder when she was 15 years old, was taken into prison six years ago. She said she could no longer tolerate her husband.

Her account of the event is as follows.

“I was just a kid when I got married to him. He was a moody person and used to tease me. I had no relatives, and I was illiterate thus I could not work. Therefore I had to cope with my life. On the day of crime, I stabbed him with a knife while he was asleep.”

Parents of the late husband asked for capital punishment. During investigations, Razieh found out that she was pregnant. Since a pregnant woman must not be executed, she was taken into prison. She gave birth to a girl, and officials gave her another 18 months to breastfeed her daughter.

Meanwhile, community workers finally convinced her parents-in-law to let her live. They, however, set a series of conditions.

They asked Razieh to pay them 20 thousand dollars. In addition, they said that Razieh should marry their 18-years-old son. Moreover, Razieh shall not have any right to her daughter, her daughter shall not go to school, and her daughter shall marry once she is matured (9 years old). Finally, Razieh should live in the very room she committed murder.

To stay with her kid, Razieh agreed to their terms save the ban on schooling.

After a while, supervisory judges of the prison convinced her parents-in-law to let her live in another room and let her daughter go to school.

Ultimately, Razieh got married to her former brother-in-law and was set free.

25 kor 2009

Third Revolution

Once there was a revolution in Iran, led by Ayatollahs, overthrowing Shah Regime and destabilizing the Island of Stability for more than a decade. That event not only led to a regime change but also transformed socio-cultural system of Iranian society. Ordinary people who had been directed toward a western life style during Shah Reign were then ready to embrace a fundamentalist, politically aggressive interpretation of Shiite Islam. Ayatollah Khomeini, charismatic founder of Islamic Republic, used to serve as a mentor for whose guides a better part of the society would sacrifice their belongings up to their lives. However, many moderate figures, including administration of Prime Minister Bazargan, were still active in then political atmosphere of Iran. Even though somehow isolated, they could affect some parts of the society and serve as a barrier to many radical decisions.

Almost one year later, there was the Hostage Crisis in Iran. It finally led to Bazargan’s resignation. Ayatollah Khomeini called the event the Second Revolution. He was right in the sense that Hostage Crisis helped radicalize Iran’s politics and put aside moderate figures. For years to come, the voice of hardliners was dominant in Iran.

After demise of Ayatollah Khomeini which coincided with the end of Iran-Iraq war, absence of a charismatic hardliner leader left some room for moderate voices to spread. Compared to Ayatollah Khomeini, the new supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, barely had the support of masses. In addition, technocrat, pragmatic administration of Ayatollah Rafsanjani, whose main rhetoric was Reconstruction, helped found a relatively strong middle-class whose main concerns hardly included those of founders of Islamic Revolution. The young grown up in that period of time, especially girls with their progressively loosening dress code, turned into the symbol of a generational gap.

No surprise that the new age did need Khatami, a reform candidate promising more freedom and less oppression. From the point of regime’s strategists, Khatami could serve as a safety tube, containing unrests, directing the discontent already available in the society toward less dangerous goals acceptable to senior officials of the regime. Presidents of Islamic Republic are usually supposed to serve two terms. Khatami was no exception.

Even though reform movement failed to bring about changes essentially needed to establish a western democracy, senior officials were reluctant to cope with it for another eight years. Had taken the power for another term, reformists and still-born civil society established in the age of reform could have turned into an existential threat. Moreover, reformists themselves paved the way for a new chapter to begin. The change masses demanded was not in parallel with what senior reformists tried to accomplish.

Khatami had to pass power to a new figure. A controversial election brought Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani to the second round of the presidential election. Even though results of the first round were highly skeptical, Ahmadinejad beating his rival in the second round with a landslide was a clear sign of people demanding the change, again.

In his four years of presidency, Ahmadinejad convinced masses in rural and suburban areas that he should be the one. He gathered many supporters to whose tables were brought a portion of oil income. That fact led senior strategists of the regime to believe that the time was ripe for revenge.

Recent presidential election and its aftermath, whether a political coup or a failed velvet revolution, helped IRI officials put aside moderate figures who were mostly born in the age of Reconstruction and flourished in the age of Reform. In other words, this election helped radicalize Iran’s politics. In this sense, had he been able to send a message, Ayatollah Khomeini would have called Ahmadinejad’s reelection the Third Revolution.

25 qer 2009

Age of Ahmadinejad

Few days before the election, I met an old friend. As an educated man with a sense of humor, and as a father of two young babies, he made a nice point regarding Ahmadinejad: “when your boy is peeing, don’t stop him. Let him complete his task.”

Ahmadinejad, Miracle of the Third Millennium [1], was a new phenomenon in Iran’s modern politics. As a demagogue, he is capable of convincing ordinary people not linked to intellectuals. This point could be easily observed in the results of the presidential election. Ahmadinejad barely had the support of intelligentsia, the educated people and experts. Rather, his main constituency was composed of rural, suburban and less-educated voters to whose tables were brought some of the oil revenues. Frequent visits he paid to provinces and the huge amount of cash his administration distributed among people were more than enough to convince ordinary people that he would be the one.

Considering pre-election events and official results, one can easily find out that there is a wide gap between experts and masses in today Iran. Lots of voters didn’t pay a minimum attention to the expert’s ideas and this led to the overwhelming victory of Ahmadinejad [2]. This might be a classic example of populist figures winning an election.

Let’s consider some of the examples of the gap between experts’ ideas and those of ordinary people.

In the term of economy, a better part of his supporters fail to understand that Ahmadinejad “is robbing our future to pay us.” With regards to oil income, most of the economists believed that we should follow the example set by Norway, i.e. turning oil revenues into a sustainable capital. (Many Arab countries followed that path.) Ahmadinejad, however, decided to share the cash with the people. It should be noted that, for instance, 50$ donated by the government means a lot to a simple farmer in a far-located village of Iran. However, this farmer can’t understand that deferring his gratification can lead to a more stable (and perhaps larger) source of income. (This is, again, a classic example of a traditional society compared to a modern one. [3])

In the term of politics, his fans can hardly realize long-term consequences of his policies. For example, many political analysts believe that “Ahmadinejad is the kind of enemy Israel likes to hate” [4] for he makes it possible for Israeli officials to justify some of their extreme acts. (As an instance, Israel publicly confessed to having nukes just few years ago for she thought she could justify it, at least partly, referring to Ahmadinejad’s policies and positions he publicly made.) However, many of the hardliners only support him as a symbol of resistance against Zionist regime and international imperialism.

In my opinion, Iran is experiencing populism, full scale. An important feature of this atmosphere reveals itself in paying no attention to the experts and intelligentsia. However, after a while, long-term consequences of populism will be made clear to masses and they will turn again to elites.

Societies usually need to experience populism. This is an almost inevitable part of democratization enterprise. And Iran is no exception to the rule.

Before the election, I used to think that the people were not still ready to swear by expert bodies for they were yet to realize long-term consequences of populism. I’m personally happy that Ahmadinejad won the election. It costs us a lot, true. In my opinion, however, better to experience it once and forever. Better to let Ahmadinejad complete his task.

Footnotes:
[1] A term used by a hardliner fan of Ahmadinejad, wife of his spokesman.
[2] In my opinion, even though there are some indications of limited fraud, Ahmadinejad won the election.
[3] Communication for Development in the Third World, chapter 3.
[4] A France24 commentator once used this phrase.

15 qer 2009

A Failed Velvet Revolution or a Political Coup?

Official results of the presidential election in Iran were more of a shock to both parties, i.e. reformists and hardliners. Regardless of the massive turnout that set a record in the age of Islamic Republic, Mousavi, the most hopeful reformist candidate, only gathered around 13 million votes which were almost half the votes of Ahmadinejad. Karroubi, other reformist candidate, won the support of less than a percent of voters.

Reformists believe that the results were ‘engineered’, and their supporters have waged limited rebellion against the ruling administration in some metropolitan areas. Referring to several cases of intervention, misconduct and paradoxical results as well as reports of reformist observers, they believe that Mousavi was the real winner and ruling party fabricated the results. The day after the election, several reformist figures, including the brother of former reformist president Khatami, got arrested. Moreover, some other prominent people, including Mousavi himself, are taken into home custody. Since few days ago, there has been a massive blackout on information resources. SMS service of two main operators has been completely cut since the night before election. Several reformist sites, even moderate ones such as aftabnews.ir, are blocked. Ministry of Interior Affairs permits no demonstration. Riot police is present everywhere and senior officials such as Rafsanjani who were expected to intervene are nothing but silent. From this perspective, putting together puzzle pieces, one might come to the conclusion that the whole event resembles a political coup.

On the other hand, hardliners could hardly expect to beat reformists and their ‘Green Wave’ in such a humiliating manner – Mousavi and his supporters chose Green as their symbolic color. Conservative analysts maintain that Mousavi and his companions were arranging for a Colored (Velvet) Revolution. Before the election, reformist resources and media orchestrated a massive propaganda to make people and observers believe that “the Green Wave should win if the original voice of the people is to be heard.” Finding out that Ahmadinejad is bound to win, according to hardliner analysts, reformist camp decided to run away forward. Few days before the election, Mousavi declared that he would be the winner if the people are not cheated on. And on the day of election, while people were still casting their ballots, Mousavi participated in a press conference and declared that he is the winner for sure. When the official results got published, public opinion was ready to accept that “it’s a fraud.” Then, Mousavi stated that he would not subscribe to the results. Later on, some resources informed people that Mousavi is pressed to accept the results. Mousavi and Karroubi asked people to wage a wave of civil unrest. Encountered with somehow heavy-handed response, demonstrations went violent. From this perspective, reformists are trying to direct a Colored Revolution.

In my opinion, Colored Revolution in Iran is set to fail for Revolutionary Guards and some hardliners are ready to take every possible measure to crack down demonstrations. However, they are yet to act. It might be due to two possible, yet completely opposite reasons. From one point, they may believe that the current unrest is not that serious. From another point, they may find it so unstable a situation that even one hasty move could cause serious problems. The truth will probably reveal itself within few days. Just wait.

3 qer 2009

Upcoming Presidential Election in Iran

Next presidential election in Iran not only matters to Iranians, but also, for good reasons, can affect the region and some of the global affairs. Since the political processes in Iran are almost unknown to foreign observers, it is worth publishing some information about would-be presidents of Iran. Four candidates are running for coming presidential elections in Iran:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current fundamentalist president who finds himself bound to win.

Mahdi Karrubi, former reformist parliament speaker.

Mirhosein Mousavi, ex-premier of war time and supposedly most hopeful reformist candidate.

Mohsen Rezayi, former commander-in-chief of Revolutionary Guards.

Many analysts believe that Rezayi is not likely to beat his powerful rivals. Since he left Revolutionary Guards, Rezayi, who got his PhD in economics, has been trying to put on a political, intellectual gesture. In my opinion, he is the best speaker among current candidates, having detailed programs regarding politics, economy, etc. He tries to propose radical changes in some important issues. For example, he chose a woman, Dr. Boroujerdi (grand daughter of Ayatollah Khomeini), to be his foreign affairs minister, "just to beat Hillary Clinton," to use his own words. In addition, regarding Iran-US relations, he is to propose Change Package in which detailed sequence of changes are described that could help remove some of the barriers to better relations. He even said that meeting Obama in next UN summit is possible, given that some good things happen within next few months. Even though he is somehow associated with so-called tradition-minded parties (hardliners), Rezayi has seriously criticized Ahmadinejad. For example, he was quoted as saying "if the trend of current administration is to be continued, it would bring the country to the verge [of destruction]." In addition, he has objected what he calls Political Adventurism of current administration.

Mousavi was Iran’s last premiere in the time of Iran-Iraq war. (After the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, some changes were made to Iran’s constitution, one of which was removing premiership, leaving the responsibility of forming the cabinet to the president.) After the assassination of Rajayi, Iran’s second president, Ayatollah Khamenei won the presidential election and chose Mousavi as premier for his first term of presidency. After four years, Ayatollah Khamenei assumed power again for his second term. However, this time he was reluctant to choose Mousavi for they had many problems with each other. Many people, major commanders and politicians among them, asked Ayatollah Khomeini to intervene in favor of Mousavi. Finally, Ayatollah Khamenei, though still reluctant, chose Mousavi as premiere. When Ayatollah Khomeini passed away, Ayatollah Khamenei was elected Supreme Leader and Ayatollah Rafsanjani won the presidential election. Mousavi, once the most popular figure next to Ayatollah Khomeini, got forced to leave political sphere and has been silent since then. Now, major reformist parties support him as their candidate. Many of these parties have fundamental problems with him, but since they swear by him as the most hopeful option competing Ahmadinejad, a strategic alliance is formed so as to beat Ahmadinejad.

Karroubi, the only clergyman among current candidates, is not a strong character by his own. However, he played a significant role in reformist administration and it gave him the chance of winning an influential position among reformist factions. Moreover, after Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, he ranked third in the first round of previous presidential election which was barely expected of him. (It should be mentioned that he publicly objected the result, claiming that some inaccuracies and possible interventions were playing role helping Ahmadinejad go to second round.) In order to arrange for the next campaign, he formed a party, Etemade Melli (national trust). Now, a good team of experts, academics and reformist intellectuals support him.

Ahmadinejad; no need to explain. (I’m afraid if he is going to win. Bernard Shaw once said, “If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always be assured of Paul's vote.”)

8 pri 2009

Iran’s Deterrence Power

This post is an excerpt of an interesting article.

*****

From a general point of view, it seems that Iran’s Deterrence Power is based on 4 basic principles:

1- Avoiding trusting international entities

Considering International Entities and Agencies as ‘means of International Imperialism to Conquer World’ dates back to the very beginning of Islamic Revolution. Iraqi Experience, however, has made Iranian military strategists even more determined not to trust such agencies. According to these strategists, Saddam’s regime for more than a decade cooperated with International Agencies responsible for monitoring production and maintaining its arsenal and these agencies neutralized Saddam’s military capabilities to a great extent. Finally, when they succeeded in completely inactivating Saddam’s arsenal, Bush administration waged a war on Iraq in the name of Weapon of Mass Destruction which never existed at all.

2- Deterrence out of Iranian borders

According to IRI strategists, another important lesson of Iraqi Experience is about encountering Stronger Enemy. They believe that Saddam’s strategy based on encountering occupiers inside Iraqi borders was bound to fail. To avoid similar failure, IRI strategists have maintained that in the case of an American attack on Iran, war zone will be determined by Iran. It means that in the case of war, the aggression will not be limited to Iran, but would include Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, Gulf countries, as well as other places. That is because, IRI strategists claim, America has offered Iranians some kind of Potential Hostages in the region. In addition to Iran’s own military capabilities, there are some possible allies who would help Iran fight against US in other parts of the region. Even some non-Shiite groups might be eager to help Iran. And this point can help decipher why some statement made by Iranian Officials about Holocaust, Wiping Israel off the Map, etc. Such statements were welcomed by millions of Muslims who hate Israel and are frustrated by other Muslim rulers who ‘are not man of their words.’

3- Getting Ready to Take Maximum Risks in Worst Cases

Iran normally prefers no military invasion. However, IRI strategists believe that Iran should be ready to pay ‘every’ price to make the enemy suffer maximum loss. For example, Iranians are supposedly ready to embrace martyrdom, i.e. to fight to their last drop of blood. In modern wars in which modern capabilities can make patriotism fruitless, such statements may be underestimated. However, Embracing Martyrdom translates into ‘Taking Every Possible Risk’ and that is what, IRI strategists believe, US can’t afford at all.

4- Maximum Preparedness inside Iran

Maximum Preparedness not only includes arranging for Asymmetric War and Passive Defense but also requires eliminating Fifth Column. IRI strategists believe that Iraq’s failure in First Gulf War did not lead to overthrowing Saddam’s regime for a simple reason: there was no alternative to Bathi Government. Hence, as long as there is no alternative to IRI, even a military failure can not lead to regime change. That is why removing every possible alternative would be on IRI agenda in the case of American-led war.

5 pri 2009

Modern Application of Pleasure in Iran

This post is an excerpt of an intersting article.

*****

Modern Application of Pleasure in Iran

Sexual Politics in Modern Iran, by Janet Afary, takes advantage of modern historiography methods and offers an interesting explanation of gender and sexuality transformation in political, cultural and social contexts of 19th and 20th century Iran.

Very foundation of the book is about sexual revolution in Iran which somehow began with Constitutionalism Movement, had ups and downs, and finally got accelerated in the age of Islamic Republic and compulsory dress code, i.e. Hijab.

This sexual revolution as well as transformation of the meaning and application of Gender and Sexuality is a byproduct of long standing interaction of Iranian society with Ottoman Empire, Russia and West, rise of democratic reforms as well as modern nationalism in Iran.

History of Sexuality in Iran

Sheikh Saadi, known as Morality Teacher, writes: "at the height of youthfulness, as it happens and you are very well aware, I had some sort of affairs with a gorgeous one, a boy."

Amir Onsorol-ma-Ali enjoins his son, Gilan Shah, that: "between boy-slaves and women, do not limit yourself to just one type, so as to enjoy both kinds," and "in summer approach boy-slaves and in winter go to women."

Moreover, Rumi, whose spiritual and mystique status is well recognized, explicitly uses bodily terms to describe sexual intercourse.

Today, however, we can never think of a morality teacher, father or mystique who, following example of Saadi, Amir Onsorol-ma-Ali or Rumi, confesses to homosexual affairs, describes such a relationship or explicitly uses sexual terms.

It's clear that all of the above figures, similar to today teachers, fathers and mystiques, were very well aware of Sharia and morality principles.

Another point is that the lexicon we currently use in Persian to describe erotic events is fundamentally different from the one used up to a century ago.

Gender, sexuality, sexual relationship, homosexuality and some other similar terms are all brand new expressions in Persian. Previous generations, however, had been used to thinking about and speaking about such subjects, and had had a rich lexicon to do so. Hence, is this lingual revolution just a matter of linguistics or, on the contrary, it reflects a comprehensive transformation of subjective and objective worlds of Iranians and Iranian Society?

Sexual Politics in Modern Iran is an answer to above questions as well as some other ones pertaining to transformation of sexuality and sexual pleasure in modern Iran. Here, Modern refers to something more than just contemporary or today.

Sexuality in today Iran is different from it in old Iran, for we have got modernized and modernity has fundamentally changed our understanding and experience of sexuality.

The most important characteristic of the book is its research method. Janet Afary, a well known historian who is mainly experienced in the history of past two centuries of Iran, tries to study modern sexuality and gender transformations with regards to establishment of modern medical, health, legal, religious and political entities in Iran.

In the first part of the book, she proclaims that before Constitutionalism Movement, homosexuality, polygamy, temporary marriage, sex segregation and extended families had been some usual manners that had never faced objection. However, rise of Constitutionalism Movement and agencies attributed to it gave rise to the question of Social Justice and some new regulations were gradually enacted that transformed sexual morale of Iranian society.

In addition, she explains that, for example, modern health in Iran undermined religious justifications for sex segregation, overturned religious understanding of Clean and Unclean, and gave rise to a new understanding of feminine body which granted her a new social role. Medical advancements regarding abortion and repairing hymen led to establishing some new regulations and had a lasting influence on sexual identity of and sexual interaction among citizens.

In addition, rise of police department made the body, especially feminine body, the field of cultural and political conflict. Therefore, Hijab, for the first time in Iran’s history, turned into a social problem and a concern for the government.

Modernity and New Order of Sexual Life

Probably most of the people believe that modernity is followed by more sexual freedom and life in the age of tradition had always been bound to legal and customary restrictions which had severely limited sexual pleasure. Janet Afary believes that such a perception is so naïve and illusive. Sexual Politics in Modern Iran restates that heterosexuality and monogamy, as the only legal, justified norm of sexual behavior, were not enforced by the tradition; in fact, these norms and their moral-legal dominance is a byproduct of modern age.

In fact, modernity in Iran undermined pluralistic and free tradition of sexuality and legalized a simple form of marriage and heterosexuality. For example, even though gay and lesbian behaviors were forbidden by the Sharia, before the advent of constitutional monarch and more exactly before Pahlavi Dynasty assumed power, such behaviors were accepted among various social classes and having intimate relationship and even screwing gorgeous boys was, to an extent, a common practice.

Referring to deeply rooted mystique tradition in Iran, Afary states that Love did not essentially mean an emotional relationship between man and woman and it would include homosexual intimacy as well. Hence, love and sex between persons of the same sex is considered a taboo just in modern times, which is far different from older Love Customs.

Sexual Politics in Iran narrates the transition from older Love Customs to Modern Sexual Economy of Islamic Republic.

Reader finally comes to understand that the tradition backing Islamic Republic is not a historical tradition, but a tradition founded by that political and ideological regime.

For example, even though Sharia had maintained that adulterers should be stoned to death, few examples of older regimes practicing this punishment are available. In the old times, not merely in Iran but also in whole mideast, one can rarely think of a ruler trying a mid-class woman accused of adultery and finally stoning her to death.

30 mar 2009

Visit Isfahan!

You can explore Isfahan in my photo blog. I will update it every few days with new photo reports of must-see locations.

Its first post is about Flora Garden. Check it out!


22 mar 2009

Try not to be superficial

This essay motivated current post.

Reducing social problems in general and women’s problems in particular to a simple dilemma, i.e. Islam, is the misleading theme repeated by those who fail to comprehend complexity of social phenomena. From their point of view, Islam has been and is a fixed set of rules imposed on society by an external power. Such an argument is flawed at least from two perspectives: it’s neither a fixed set of rules nor imposed by an external power. Few months ago, I explained about former flaw. Now let’s consider the latter.

From a secular point of view, religion is a matter of supply and demand. In other words, any religion that successfully spreads throughout a certain demographic area can not be just an external thing. It should be constructed internally and appropriately to meet some needs of the people. In other words, society itself creates a religion to heal some of its perceived wounds. Then, even if that certain religion is removed from society, as long as the society prefers similar cure to its perceived wounds, it would continue to prescribe very acts endorsed by the outlawed religion. This time, however, such prescriptions would be made under a brand new name.

Let’s be a little more specific. A society may be eager to keep family a solid, unaltered foundation. Honor-killing may be considered, due to various historical reasons, an acceptable way to do so. Hence, the people expect any new religion to support such a well-established mean. That’s why honor-killing enters any new religion the people might choose to practice, and that is exactly why it would remain in the society even if that certain religion gets outlawed. Honor-killing is socially acceptable in some areas for people find it a cure to a perceived wound.

Above view is supported by some evidences, one of which is that people who do not practice a certain religion may share many beliefs with other people in their own society. That is why some people who do not practice any religion still resort to honor-killing; for honor-killing is originally a social issue not a religious one.

From above point, the best way to eliminate social problems is to educate the people, i.e. to make them rational compared to modern norms. That would make them reconsider their demands, which consequently results in a change in what the religion supplies to the society.

In practice, Iranian example may testify to above analysis. Education led many people to demand equal rights for men and women which consequently led some Ayatollahs to find some sort of justifications to reform religious rules. The process continued up to a point that some state rules were changed and some others are expected to change within years.

Religion, one might argue, can play a negative role by inhibiting education process. Yeah, that’s possible and indeed has happened frequently throughout history. In the age of information, however, that can be next to impossible. One just needs to join Global E-Village in order to overcome barriers to his/her education.