Open Letter to the Iranian Clergy"
is a monumental epoch-making struggle being waged by the Iran people. The
outcome of this struggle will decide whether the people of Iran will move
into the uplands of civilization; where liberty and freedom reside, with,
its unleashing of thought and ideas and free speech; where people can
think what they please and speak what they think. The outcome will
determine whether the country will be a society where its government is
chosen by the people, of the people and for the people; it will determine
whether the people will enjoy the unalienable right of human being - the
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness. It cannot lose this
struggle. This battle of the people, by the people, for the people cannot
be lost. It cannot be lost, alike, for the sake of religion and for the
sake of the people. As President Khatami put it "Historical
experience has proved that the reason behind the defeat and downfall of
the religion in middle ages was due to the fact that religion and freedom
stood against each other; It is in the interest of religion that the
people should have complete freedom, and, so it is the interest of
religion that this struggle for the freedom of the people is won by the
people. If the ruling clergy should hold on to its power against the will
of the people for too long, it will lose its hold on the hearts and minds
of the people. With long term absolute power in the hands of the clergy it
is bound to sink into corruption (some say it has already been infested)
and lose its trust and respect with the people. With reduced trust in the
proclaimed or perceived guardian of the faith, it will be a setback to
what the guardian of the faith preaches and teaches. Thus, I repeat it is
in the interest of the religious authorities that the people should win
the battle for freedom. It is in their own interest that they themselves
should be defeated. Beware: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiniís revolution has
proved that no power can withhold freedom from the Iranian people. You
will ignore this very lesson at your own peril, and, more importantly, you
will prove a hazard to your own religion.
say Iran is now a democratic country. To determine this let us review the
Iranian constitution and its current power structure.
today has a two-tire government, the government chosen by the people and a
government chosen by the clergy or mullahs. In this system it is the
clergy or mullahs who has the power and the not the people.
to the constitution, section 8 titled -The Leader or Leadership Council,
the absolute power rest with the Leader who is the miriji. In this section
Article 110 details the duties and powers of the Leader.
are the duties and powers of the Leadership:
of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran after
consultation with the Nation's Exigency Council.
over the proper execution of the general policies of the system.
decrees for national referenda.
supreme command of the armed forces.
of war and peace, and the mobilization of the armed forces.
dismissal, and acceptance of resignation of:
fuqaha' on the Guardian Council.
supreme judicial authority of the country.
3.the head of the radio and television network of the Islamic Republic
chief of the joint staff.
chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
supreme commanders of the armed forces.
differences between the three wings of the armed forces and regulation
of their relations.
the problems, which cannot be solved by conventional methods, through
the Nation's Exigency Council.
the decree formalizing the election of the President of the Republic
by the people. The suitability of candidates for the Presidency of the
Republic, with respect to the qualifications specified in the
Constitution, must be confirmed before elections take place by the
Guardian Council;, and, in the case of the first term [of the
Presidency], by the Leadership;
of the' President of the Republic, with due regard for the interests
of the country, after the Supreme Court holds him guilty of the
violation of his constitutional duties, or after a vote of the Islamic
Consultative Assembly testifying to his incompetence on the basis of
Article 89 of the Constitution.
or reducing the sentences of convicts, within the framework of Islamic
criteria, on a recommendation [to that effect] from the Head of
judicial power. The Leader may delegate part of his duties and powers
to another person"
summarize The Leader or Leadership Council has the authority to appoint
the fuqaha' or the Guardian Council, and he is elected by the experts or
the Guardian Council who he appoints. He is the head of the arm forces,
the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.; his and the Guardian Councilís
praetorian guards, the head of radio and television of the Republic, the
supreme judicial authority of the country, i.e. chief justice of the
Iranian Islamic Republic: the interpreter of the law and the chief
enforcer of the laws. Finally he also decides who should stand for
election for the presidency. He has all this authority which has not been
derived from the people although the constitution concedes that he is
equal under the lay with any other citizen of the Republic.
this a democratic form of government as the religious establishment
claims? We will examine the term democracy as it has evolved through the
years and get some idea of what constitutes a democratic society. From
this review of democracy it will become clear that Iran does not even have
the minimum requirements of a democratic society, i.e. power being in the
hand of the many or in the hands of the people.
all the conventional names describing a society "democracy" has
had the most vivid and varied career. Like the other types of society it
has a long history in the literature of political thought. The extreme
divergent point of view can be seen from the fact that, in one of its
meaning, democracy sprouted in the Greek city-states as early as fifth
century B.C.; while in another democracy only began to exist in recent
times or perhaps it does not exist at all in its ideal form. It will no
doubt be redefined in the future as the need and desire of society change.
in our minds, the minimum requirement of a democracy is that it be a
government chosen by the people. Dictatorship or despotism we tend to
think of as opposite of democracy. Throughout the debates that times and
minds have devoted to understanding democracy a common thread seems to
have surfaced. The elements of democracy the modern man has determined is
the notion of the political power in the hands of the many rather than the
few or one. Thus at the very beginning of democratic government, we find
Athens a democracy because "its administration favours the many
instead of the few."Closer to modern times Mills similarly states
that democracy is "the government of the whole people by the whole
people" in which " the majority . . .will outvote and
all the transitions and hue in meaning, the word democracy has maintained
certain constant specific political connotations. Democracy exists
according to Montesquieu, " when the body of the people are possessed
of the supreme power." In other words democracy is the rule "of
the people." The histories have debated and have differed as to the
meaning of "the people," but it has uniformly been accepted as
the doctrine of citizens ascendance, which makes the umma or people as
such the seed and basis of national authority. In modern times the
progress of democratic tradition has been accompanied by the establishment
of safeguards for the rights of man to assure that once elected the
government actually works for the people, and not merely for one group of
it is universally accepted that the elements of democracy are:
loyal opposition and the belief by the members of a society that an
opposition is an important and integral element of a society.
primacy of the rule of law made by the people and applicable to all
the extent that a society meets with the elements of democracy determines
the extent to which that society has democracy.
Iran today a democratic society? I let you be the judge.
me end by quoting President Khatami again, " Let me declare my belief
clearly. The destiny of the religionís social prestige today and
tomorrow will depend on our interpretation of the religion in a manner
which would not contradict freedom, whenever in history a religion has
faced freedom, it has been the religion which has suffered damage...when
we speak of freedom we mean the freedom of the opposition. It is no
freedom if only the people who agree with those in power and with their
ways and means are free."