Anti-Islamic hate speech
is also fundamentally wrong as it is no different from anti-Christian or
anti-Jewish hate speech. A realistic goal for secular Iranians should be to
create a social environment that allows for religious freedom where each
individual can practice his/her religion without facing harassment by the
government or other individuals. Secular Iranians must also realize that a large
segment of Iran's population is still very religious and under any
political structure that emerges in the future, religious and secular
individuals will have to learn to tolerate each other and respect each others
2) Anti-Arab sentiments: There is also a parallel tendency among some Iranians (particularly seculars and some nationalists) to associate the Islamic regime with Arabs and express anti-Arab sentiments. There is no association between modern Arab world and the Islamic regime in Iran. This anti-Arab mindset is a residual of another mistaken belief among some Iranians who resent modern day Arabs for the Arab/Muslim invasion of Iran in seventh century. Whatever the motive might be the expressions of anti-Arab slogans can be exploited by some opportunist elements to cause tension between Iran and its Arab neighbors. It can also provoke anti-Iranian sentiments in the Arab world. Iran is surrounded on two sides by Arab neighbors and it is in its national interest to promote peaceful coexistence with Arab countries.
Supporters of the Green movement must also be mindful of expressions of
anti-Palestinian sentiments. The Islamic regime's financial and material support
for some Palestinian factions such as Hamas has led to domestic resentment. Some
Iranians believe that the resources given to Palestinians can be better spent on
poverty relief at home.
Such concerns should not lead to expressions of hostility toward the Palestinian
desire for an independent homeland. Instead they should focus on criticizing the
government's policy and offering more pragmatic policies which support the
Palestinians without putting Iran on a confrontation path with moderate Arab
countries and the Western world.
3) Focusing on constitutional reform rather than any specific ideology. One of the positive signs of political maturity in Iran's Green movement is that so far many people of diverse ideological and political orientation have cooperated with one another towards a set of limited common goals, namely a new presidential election and respect for human rights. This focus on a common cause was also visible during the 1979 Islamic revolution but soon after the collapse of the Pahlavi regime ideological intolerance led to factionalism and power struggle among various groups. Leaders and supporters of the Green movement must be mindful of ideological factionalism. It is often said that a stable democratic system has three important pillars: tolerance, cooperation and compromise.
When people have equal political rights and the society is governed
according to democratic
principles, citizens must be humble and accept the fact that sometimes
they have to tolerate the political demands of others and compromise on their
own demands. Members of the Green movement should educate themselves to these
facts and encourage a sense of political tolerance within the movement. Desire
for unity inside the Green movement should not lead to false promises of a
utopia in accordance to any group's ideology. To the contrary, the supporters
and leaders of the movement should convey realistic expectations about the
limits that a fair and free political system will put on each citizen. People of
various political and ideological orientations (religious, secular, left and
right) must understand that under such a system they will have to compromise on
their social and political demands and tolerate other political groups.
About the author: Nader Habibi is an affiliate of the Crown Centre for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University
... Payvand News - 07/24/09 ... --