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My "Current Local Politics" Class

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

Iran's parliamentary election on 20 February has been the most talked about issue in the past few months. Tragically only the Bam earthquake overtook it. Now things are back to normal and everybody talks about it again; especially today, since so many well-known names who already are serving in the parliament have been disqualified or rather not qualified.

The labyrinth and incomprehensiveness of present Iranian local and sometime international politics, which can easily drive me crazy at times and makes me feel dumb mostly, is made neat and simple, straightforward and understandable by a dear friend whom I go to every fortnight for our current local politics class. Hossein, my friend, has an extraordinary great knack for making these complicated, intertwined, related and unrelated links so easy to understand or to swallow just like eating ice cream. I do not miss our classes for anything, unless he has to cancel them due to his heavy workload. It is our arrangement that he tells me the most important things that have taken place here and there, what they mean and how things are connected, but above all Why this or that.

I am allowed to ask questions, even silly ones. He does not look down at me when I make a major mistake or if I do not remember all that has been said in our pervious classes, or if I fail to make what he considers "the obvious connection." These classes are so refreshing and interesting. We have started it again after a delay of 2 years due to our jobs and other responsibilities. We first had these classes during the upcoming year of Mr. Khatami, and in those days I knew I was well-informed and on top of local news. It felt so good to know what they were talking about, even if I had not read all the papers. The classes were sweet and enticing and I would not miss them. Once a month, these days, he come to us and once a month I go to their home to overcome the hassle of the traffic problem.

Hossein believes that people should go out and vote, so that we do not end up facing what happened to the municipalities where the conservative have managed to take over and we are all paying for it. Our lack of general participation in that election made the right very strong and put them and their supporters in power. He said that Mr. Nabavi who was disqualified today to stand, along with many other prominent candidates, would be reinstated again soon. When I asked why, he simply said that the same thing happened in the pervious elections. Mr. Nabavi is always put aside and then compromises are made and he is reinstated. It is also quite possible that such events will encourage unenthusiastic, bored with politics and apprehensive people to go out and exercise their right to vote, which would be most interesting to observe in itself.

However, the most important thing that was said tonight was none of these, but rather the most striking, interesting with long-term implications of major significance, was the fact that last Thursday Islamic Coalition Society has become a political party. They are now Islamic Coalition Party! Could this be the beginning of the major political turning point and serious move towards a more secular society; well at least, more political and less divine? Does this mean that they - the right side of conservatives - have now accepted the traditional modes of political exercise for gaining and exercising power through more moderate and even normal channels for political competition, the alphabet of democratic tools? Have they, finally and eventually, overcome their dilemma of being caught between expediency and reality? I guess if we truly believe in political democracy we should welcome this very significant turn! Since bad laws are better than no laws. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hold our breath and send a pray and hope for the best.

... Payvand News - 1/13/04 ... --

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