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Is bringing democracy to Iran a dream or could it be a reality?

By Mahtab Farid

Iranian Canadian philanthropist and entrepreneur, Behrooz Behbudi wants to bring democracy and freedom to the people of Iran through his newly founded organization, the "Council for a Democratic Iran."

Behbudi, 59, is determined to change the conversation about Iran and gain support from the international community through "Council for a Democratic Iran" so the people of Iran could enjoy a secular democratic Iran.

To fulfill this mission, "Council for a Democratic Iran" is building a presence in Washington, D.C. and has recruited experts in various fields from the Iranian community in exile.

Behrooz Behbudi sits down in an interview with Mahtab Farid, an Iranian American journalist from USI NEWS to discuss his hopes of bringing democracy to Iran through "Council for a Democratic Iran."

MF:   Dr. Behbudi thank you for your time,

BB:   I am glad to do the interview

MF: Dr. Behbudi tell us about your newly founded organization, Council for a Democratic Iran?

BB: The purpose of this organization is to shed light on atrocities that Islamic Republic has inflicted on the people of Iran since 1979, all the promises that they have made but didn't keep. "Council for a Democratic Iran" is an organization to promote democracy and bring freedom to the people of Iran.

MF: There are so many groups in the past 30 years that have tried to bring democracy to Iran but none have seemed to create any results.  Why do you think the Council for a Democratic Iran will be different?

BB: Because we are inclusive.  We are secular and the members of this organization are individuals that value freedom.  Our aim is to support economic prosperity in Iran, giving young people good education, and give opportunities to the people of Iran to succeed in life.

MF: How is the "Council for a Democratic Iran" going to accommodate all of those tough jobs that you mentioned; bringing democracy to a country is not an easy job.

BB: It is not tough when you have the right people to help you and you are determined and you have passion for this cause.  I think the Iranian people need champions outside Iran so they can have the same kind of dreams that Americans have and people in free countries have.

MF: As you know there is a lot of friction among the Iranian community in exile.  How do you overcome the hurdle of getting different groups under the umbrella of the "Council for a Democratic Iran?"

BB: The problems in the Iranian Diaspora are no different than other Diasporas.  When you live outside of the country you come from you behave differently.  There is competition; there is jealousy, and some infighting with the people in the community.  One can only be hopeful that at some point the people of Diaspora will come to a conclusion that they should get together and tell the world with one voice that Iranian people deserve freedom and human rights.

MF: You have been out of Iran for four decades.  Why do you care about Iran or care to bring democracy to the Iranian people?

BB: I didn't leave Iran not to go back and live in US, Canada, Australia, or Europe.   I left Iran to get a good education so I can go back and serve my country.  The revolution of 1979 changed everything for me. I left Iran but my heart and my soul is still there, I wouldn't feel complete if I couldn't go home.

MF: What would the "Council for a Democratic Iran" do differently; once again I will ask this question, because so many groups are active, a number of resolutions have passed the US Congress, there are United Nations Security Council resolutions that have passed recently on Iran and none have seemed to create any results.  What could you do differently?

BB: Apparently it was not enough and after 30 years we are still here.  As I said, we must keep trying until we reach our goal for a secular, free, and democratic Iran.  I am pleased that so many groups are sincerely trying to make a change, because they can't stand the Islamic Republic.

MF: You have been outside of Iran for over four decades so how do you know what is needed for Iran and the Iranian people?

BB: Yearning for freedom doesn't take rocket scientist to guess it.   To be able to wear what you want and having the hair cut you want, dance at your wedding, go to school freely and listen to music, I don't think that is too much to ask. 

MF: Some may argue that you are an entrepreneur, and you have spent most of your life in business, running a grass root organization like the "Council for a Democratic Iran" is something that you don't probably have enough experience.  What would you say?

BB: I am not an expert, but you could hire experts.  Experts are there to consult and learn from.  You don't have to know everything.  Through research and hiring the right people you can succeed.

MF: What is your dream in life?

BB: To take democracy to Iran and bring peace to the people of Iran, I wish Iranian well and I hope they live well.

MF: Thank you Dr. Behbudi

BB: Thank you Mahtab.

... Payvand News - 9/19/08 ... --

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