The Islamic Republic of Iran:Myth and reality [Archives:2003/636/Opinion]

May 12 2003

Hassan Al-Haifi
Most open-minded observers of the regional scene are not convinced by the misconceptions that are being projected of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Western media. It is really surprising that the American position on one of the most progressive states, politically and socially, in the region should find reason to continue its blind hatred of Iran (after all, is not Iran the real reason for their presence in Iraq, as further reinforcement of their presence in Afghanistan? Just ask any broadminded strategic expert). About the only thing that seems to be obvious is that there are some obvious misgivings against Iran for the first part of the name, although Iran's name is the closest thing that has come to real social and political doctrine in Islam that the Moslem World has ever seen since the time of Omar Bin Abdul-Asia (Over thirteen centuries ago), the pious Umayyad Caliph, whose rule was the closest thing to that of the Four Orthodox Caliphs that ruled the Moslem World after the death of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In an age of mundane drives and secular inclinations, many people, especially in the West, have come to view any religious regime (especially Islamic regimes) as anathema to life itself. Yet, these diehard opponents of Iran (although they really have no inkling of what Iran is really like), will not hesitate to be the first to defend and advocate for Israel on every media channel and political theater. They forget that Israel has proven to be one of the most chauvinistic religious societies existing in the world today, owing its existence to the thousands of Palestinians that have been and continue to be slaughtered – not to mention the millions that are homeless, with the conscience of these die hard advocates sound asleep.
What is true about Iran is that it is a full Islamic democracy, which has rulers that truly look after the interests of their constituents and with mature institutions operating to maximum capacity and to a high level of efficiency, both in government and in civil society. The fact is that the Iranian people are proud of their Islamic democracy, and one is safe in saying that Iran represents the closest thing to a modern democracy that any Moslem country has reached. Moreover, the Iranian people are enjoying the fruits of economic development and cultural enhancement in all fronts. Which Moslem country can produce an airplane from a – z? Iran can now manufacture aircraft and many other heavy machinery and equipment. If one compares the economic and development indicators of Iran, especially the human development side, from the time of the last year of the Shah's US supported oppressive rule, to the present, one will find that Iran has jumped leaps and bounds in every indicator. If one looks at the cultural front, Iran is producing commendable award winning output in all the fine arts, in music, in cinema, etc. During the autocratic rule of the Shah, the only output was an ugly skin trade and drugs (both of which Iran has now cleaned up). Even in the areas of gender and the environment exemplary strides have been made. Moreover, there is political vibrancy in Iran, that could never have been imagined in the Shah's time, and transition of power is more peaceful there than the passing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.
In the political/diplomatic front the enlightened religious overseers (I do not like to say clerics, because there is no clerical order in Islam), have delicately maneuvered Iran from the world's most isolated country to a serious rational role player in the shape of things to come in the regional front. Furthermore, it is clear that Iran has wisely steered away from projecting any evil designs or intentions, and struggled to come out from a war torn nation to a nation that is humming with dynamic inertia, and proper international conduct. Over time, the Iranian people have clearly shown that they are able to overcome all obstacles that prevent them from making maximum use of their available resources for the betterment of their lives and for the enhancement of regional cohesion. Their well organized charities have been valuable to helping many Moslem countries support their social services. In addition, the Iranian government operates with a high level of transparency and accountability, so that efficiency can be seen manifested in reasonably well-functioning social services, and continuously improving economic and social indicators. Anyone who really wishes to judge Iran's progress can see the World Development Reports of the World Bank and the other Human Development annual records for the years from 1989 to the present. One will find that the progress that Iran witnessed leaves no room for doubt that somebody is doing something right down there, in the former home of the Persian Empire, which once rivaled Greece and Rome as a center of world culture.
We as Moslems throughout the world, should applaud the Islamic Republic of Iran, for first of all showing that those who sacrifice to gain their freedom, will very soon reap the rewards of their struggle. Moreover, we should commend the Iranians for their strong support to all the causes that touch at the heart of Moslem conscientiousness, especially against the demagogic Zionist cancer that lies in our midst, which seeks to bring down the whole West against the Moslem World, just so they can carry out their evil designs of an Eretz Israel stretching from the Euphrates to the Nile. Seeing President Mohammed Khatemi with his humble entourage, in their modest low profile image, in Sana'a last week, was a clear indication that our government is playing the regional balancing act with astute insight as to who really makes sense and matters in this region after all.