Iran: A Working Islamic Democracy [Archives:2001/24/Focus]

June 11 2001

By: Hassan Al-Haifi

Amidst the pathetic state of the Moslem World, from Macedonia to Indonesia, not to mention the senseless bloodshed in Afghanistan and Algeria, one must breathe a sigh of relief at seeing millions of Iranians lining up in record numbers to give their vote to the candidate of their choice for the Presidency of one of the most dynamic Islamic states of modern times. The Iranians are once again telling their Moslem brothers everywhere, if you want to keep pace with the rest of the world, in terms of social and economic progress, you first must set the appropriate framework for governance into play; you must first have the people take part in deciding who rules the country and how. Otherwise, there is just no way that the Moslem World can come out of its dismal conditions and tragic civil strife that show no end in sight.
Yes, Iran is again having its presidential elections and tens of candidates are running out to the people of Iran seeking their votes, not by money, trickery or any of the corruptions to democratic practice that many of the so called democracies in the Islamic world have adopted to placate their western masters, but by speaking out on the issues that matter most to the people of Iran, openly and frankly, without fear of any repressive measures.
It is expected that the Iranians will turn out in record numbers for the elections this time, because the Iranians want to emphasize to their leadership that they want Iran to continue on the path to reform, because that is the path that will keep the vitality of the Iranian Revolution in full gear and that is the path that will set an example for all Moslems of the world to take, if they are ever to overcome their autocratic regimes and overcome their inability to come out of the pathetic state that they were left in by their former colonialist masters.
What can be more refreshing than to see a Moslem people telling their leadership that you are doing fine by simply telling them: “Here is our vote of approval for all that you seek to do for our country”, or, if they are not doing fine: “It is over for the present leadership, we want new leadership that truly understands what our problems are and what our aspirations are”? Whatever the case, the important thing to realize is that it is now the people’s choice as to who rules and why? That is the fundamental essence of governance in Islam and that is why Iran is bound to make its presence in the world felt and appreciated, while the rest of the Moslem World stays in its deep slumber and pathetic conditions, because their populations have yet to be recognized as worthy of the most basic of human rights by their tyrannical and autocratic rulers, who have bled their resources and turned government into family enrichment funds and political clubs passed down from one generation to the next, with the people not even having the last word of say in the matter.
We thank you, Iran for showing that the tremendous sacrifices of your people are not going out the window as they become the people with the last say as to who decides the destiny of the nation and what government platform appeals to them the most. For sure, even the West is bound to recognize that as far as government is concerned, the Iranians truly have come to understand that democracy is an integral element of Islam and without it, there is really no Islam, even if the flag of the country will have the entire Quran inscribed in its flag!
For sure, the sustainability of democratic rule in Iran has defied all the misrepresentations that are being made of Iran as a clerical regime (no, there is no clergy in Islam, but Walter Rogers of CNN still does not see this important distinction of Islam), or closed minded extreme fundamentalist order, like the Taliban display of such an archaic misrepresentation of Islam in Afghanistan. Iran is modern in thinking, modern in outlook and modern in democratic practice. This surely will be looked at with envy by the other Moslem populations and may produce the kind of verve that will reinvigorate the rest of the Moslems of the world to start telling their leaders: “Why cannot we be like our brothers in Iran? Do not we deserve to decide who shall rule us for the next four or five years? Should your achievements or failures not become subject to the accountability of the people?”
This observer is keen on pointing out that most of the people in the Moslem world are seriously watching what is going in Iran, because they see Iranian officials speaking the language of true statesmen and perceptive politicians, who truly understand that they are subject to their people’s desires and aspirations, and that their positions are not granted to them, because of their blood relations or clan associations, but because they have demonstrated concern for their people’s welfare and seek to upgrade and enhance the livelihood of their people, because otherwise they simply will not be elected to office.
Yes, it is gratifying that the leadership of Iran, represented by Ayatollah Mohammed Khamenai insist that the right of the people to freely make their choice on election day is a fundamental right that cannot be misused, or finagled with in any way by the regime or its institutions that overlook this fundamental practice in democratic societies.
On the other hand, the Iranian Elections represent a referendum on the Reform Platform propagated by President Khatemi, which if approved will indicate that the Islamic Revolution of Iran is more dynamic than any of the revolutions that have been seen in any Moslem state, most of which have been more regressive, rather than being responsive to their people’s desire for progress and freedom. Because when reform becomes a national issue of importance, it means that the population understands that change is a necessary element of democratic rule and a fundamental element of progressive government. Surely, reforms are the only way of meeting the people’s demands for coping with the problems and the developments that come with the passage of time.
Carry on Iran, for the whole world is looking at you with mounting admiration. For those with prejudice and inexplicable hatred for Iran, all one can say is: “Eat your hearts out, for Iran is really on the right track, whether you like or not!”