Friday, April 21, 2006


U.S. can become a hero to millions of Iranians

By Faye F. Farhang

Twenty-seven years after the 1979 Islamic revolution, the majority sentiment among Iranians today can be summed up in a single question: When are they leaving?

"They" refers to Tehran's extremist mullahs, who have turned back Iran's clock on cultural and scientific development for more than a quarter of a century.

In a country where 70 percent of the population is literate and secular and close to 50 percent is female and educated, women are still permanent second-class citizens.

Without the basic right of choosing their public attire, women going out without the mandatory Islamic veil will be arrested, beaten and jailed. Astonishingly, these human-rights violations are a daily regimen of life in Iran.

In March, in commemoration of International Women's Day, scores of Iranian women participating in a peaceful sit-in demonstration were initially filmed, and then severely beaten off-camera by the Islamic police and their militant assistants. Yet, in the midst of such brutality, how does nuclear energy win out as the sujet du jour?

The irony of the situation may be baffling to the outsider, but diverting attention from its human-rights abuses is exactly what the Islamic regime seeks in order to establish greater internal and regional dominance.

When the clerics took power in 1979, they promised to deliver the wealth of the nation to the poor. Yet, the fact that the poor suffer from greater poverty today only illustrates what has been proven repeatedly about the fundamentalists in power. They cannot be trusted.

Returning to Iran some two decades after leaving it as a child, I was determined to find out whether the Islamic revolution that had upturned so many lives, including my family's, had benefited the less-fortunate. In the summer of 2001, the Iranian workers, be it the cleaning lady or the gardener, were more honest than I had ever expected. These women and men, while not literate enough to write, were articulate about their experiences, explaining that after all these years they were still waiting for their oil money — as if waiting for the messiah.

For them, the oil money is as unreachable as the democracy the majority of Iranians desperately seek.

The oppressive fear perpetuated by the Islamic regime has seeped into every aspect of Iranians' lives. They lead a quasi-existence under watchful eyes. In a totalitarian state, the pro-American majority is not empowered to stand up to the clerics. Fear dominates.

Many Iranians have already lost their lives in the human-rights struggle and those who continue to dedicate themselves to the cause of justice know too well that the small strides they have made over two decades can be reversed by an unpredictable regime.

During his presidential campaign, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sought to portray himself as some sort of Islamic Robin Hood. He did practically everything but dress the part. Yet, his short track record already proves his betrayal of the poor who supported him.

Now, consider his desire for nuclear energy, masked by peaceful intentions today. Despite certain pundits' assertions, it is unlikely that this disciple of the ayatollahs' regime would honor an agreement on the purpose of the uranium enrichment.

He seeks to bolster an oppressive position of power for tomorrow. If allowed, Iran likely would be a reign of terror over the Middle East. According to terrorism experts, the fundamentalist-controlled groups — Iran's ministry of intelligence, its security operatives, the Revolutionary Guards, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — are better trained and equipped than the al-Qaida network that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran's rogue regime are a grave threat to the security of the Iranian people, the international community and especially the United States, the well-identified foe of the Islamic Republic.

If Churchill's assertions were right and "the United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative," then the U.S. administration must maintain full speed with the agenda of establishing democracy in Iran. By continuing to drive a wedge between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime, the U.S. will bolster its chances of success, without alienating the average Iranian.

Using the Iranian masses effectively to undermine the fundamentalist regime will also create leverage for the international community to step up and confront militants.

A free, democratic Iran remains in the best interest of the United States. The "risk"? Becoming the certified hero of millions of Iranians by bringing the freedom they have long desired.

Faye F. Farhang writes for various Persian-American online journals and works as a paralegal in Seattle. Contact her at


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