How to Prevent Civil War in Iran
Notwithstanding the current debate on Nuclear Deal, the danger of an implosion is real
By Freydoon Khoie
"Religion, Customs, and Patriotism form the trinity of values inherent in a political culture that constitute its spirit. When those values are absent, there is only fear, and Asiatic despotism is the invariable result. Russia, China, Turkey, and Persia are his primary examples" wrote Montesquieu over 226 years ago.
He believed in direct democracy if democracy were possible in a republican form. However, his decided class preference was for rule by the excellent or aristocracy. He did concede that there could be a confederation of republics (a Federal System), that would result in a country of great size—and democratic at that. That idea influenced the thinking of James Madison when he wrote the Federalist Papers.
Montesquieu advocated natural laws as inherent in the state of nature. Convenience for the sake of commercial life brought men together in civil society and they then wrote a social contract. Men are amiable in Montesquieu’s scheme of things. Positive law, historically circumscribed in statutory law, gave the universality of natural law its particular dimensions. There was always ambiguity in the struggle between natural and positive law. For instance, natural law condemned slavery; positive law institutionalized it. He could never resolve that dilemma.
The three forms of government, democracy (patriotic—love of nation), aristocracy (arête—excellence) and monarchy (virtue—heroism’), formed the three normative states acceptable to Montesquieu—with their underlying principles governing national behaviors; the opposite was Asiatic despotism in the person of the tyrant, where fear and violence ruled over a people in a vast land that was essentially ungovernable and Russia, China, Iran and Turkey were referred to as examples
"Power must check power,” said Montesquieu, "to stabilize and institutionalize a rationally organized state". Madison said that “Ambition must check ambition” in the Federalist Papers. Montesquieu influenced the American Revolution with his ideas of the separation of powers and checks and balances in a mixed constitution because he took his model from the King and Parliament in Britain.
Montesquieu admired the direct democracy of Athens more than the representative democracy of England because of the massive corruption in the latter’s government and electoral process.
The spirit of the laws is affected by climate, terrain, the general spirit of the people (their virtues), customs (their internal belief systems, attitudes, and values), and manners (externally manifested civility in the public sphere). Each country is unique and that determines their national psyche.
Montesquieu was a defender of the older military and legal nobility of the French Parliament because he thought they best embodied excellence in qualities of leadership. He defended this class against the monarchy and its agents. There were intermediary bodies in France that he thought were indispensable to political liberty: parliaments in the provinces; the nobility; local courts; the church; provincial government; towns; guilds; and professional associations. They would balance one another against possible oppression from the central government and its administration to serve as a barrier against despotism. That political tension defined the onset of the French Revolution, when Louis XVI convened the ancient régime’s Parliament (to raise new taxes) that had long been in disuse with its Estates General (the three orders of clergy, nobility, and bourgeoisie). The Revolution started as a revolt by the nobility against taxation and ended as a middle-class revolt against the whole monarchical form of government, with the idea of creating a universal man motivated by liberty, equality, and fraternity. By the end of the nineteenth century, republican government prevailed (a belated victory for the Jacobin radicals).
Islamic Republic 'Monarchy' of Iran
Today, the way the Islamic Republic constitution is written and executed, the supreme leader is essentially a King by divine rights which is exactly what the Shah was before him and what the Louis XVI was in France before the French Revolution that gave birth to the French Republic.
We, the people of Iran, do not need to reinvent the wheel. The constitutional challenges that we are facing today are no different than what the French, the Germans and the American revolutionaries were facing over 200 years ago. The issues and the questions are the same: How to build a Just, Fair and free society? How to make sure that all are equal before the law? How to make sure that powers of each branch of the government is checked by the other? How to check, control and end corruption? And how to make sure that people of all ethnic, religious and cultural background are able to live together in peace and harmony? The answer to all these questions are found in Democracy and Capitalism in a Federalist form of government where each state has local autonomy to decide on the laws that best fit the local culture and customs of those living in that state.
In the following piece, called Federalist Papers No. 47, James Madison, one of the American Revolution's founding fathers explained in his letter dated January 30, 1788 to the people of New the Particular Structure of the New Government and the Distribution of Power Amongst Its Different Parts:
To the People of the State of New York:
"HAVING reviewed the general form of the proposed government and the general mass of power allotted to it, I proceed to examine the particular structure of this government, and the distribution of this mass of power among its constituent parts.
One of the principal objections inculcated by the more respectable adversaries to the Constitution, is its supposed violation of the political maxim that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments ought to be separate and distinct. In the structure of the federal government, no regard, it is said, seems to have been paid to this essential precaution in favor of liberty. The several departments of power are distributed and blended in such a manner as at once to destroy all symmetry and beauty of form, and to expose some of the essential parts of the edifice to the danger of being crushed by the disproportionate weight of other parts.
No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty, than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system. I persuade myself, however, that it will be made apparent to everyone that the charge cannot be supported, and that the maxim on which it relies has been totally misconceived and misapplied. In order to form correct ideas on this important subject, it will be proper to investigate the sense in which the preservation of liberty requires that the three great departments of power should be separate and distinct".
The oracle who is always consulted and cited on this subject is the celebrated Montesquieu. If he be not the author of this invaluable precept in the science of politics, he has the merit at least of displaying and recommending it most effectually to the attention of mankind. Let us endeavor, in the first place, to ascertain his meaning on this point.
The British Constitution was to Montesquieu what Homer has been to the didactic writers on epic poetry. As the latter have considered the work of the immortal bard as the perfect model from which the principles and rules of the epic art were to be drawn, and by which all similar works were to be judged, so this great political critic appears to have viewed the Constitution of England as the standard, or to use his own expression, as the mirror of political liberty; and to have delivered, in the form of elementary truths, the several characteristic principles of that particular system. That we may be sure, then, not to mistake his meaning in this case, let us recur to the source from which the maxim was drawn.
On the slightest view of the British Constitution, we must perceive that the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments are by no means totally separate and distinct from each other. The executive magistrate forms an integral part of the legislative authority. He alone has the prerogative of making treaties with foreign sovereigns, which, when made, have, under certain limitations, the force of legislative acts. All the members of the judiciary department are appointed by him, can be removed by him on the address of the two Houses of Parliament, and form, when he pleases to consult them, one of his constitutional councils. One branch of the legislative department forms also a great constitutional council to the executive chief, as, on another hand, it is the sole depositary of judicial power in cases of impeachment, and is invested with the supreme appellate jurisdiction in all other cases. The judges, again, are so far connected with the legislative department as often to attend and participate in its deliberations, though not admitted to a legislative vote.
From these facts, by which Montesquieu was guided, it may clearly be inferred that, in saying "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates," or, "if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers," he did not mean that these departments ought to have no PARTIAL AGENCY in, or no CONTROL over, the acts of each other. His meaning, as his own words import, and still more conclusively as illustrated by the example in his eye, can amount to no more than this, that where the WHOLE power of one department is exercised by the same hands which possess the WHOLE power of another department, the fundamental principles of a free constitution are subverted. This would have been the case in the constitution examined by him, if the king, who is the sole executive magistrate, had possessed also the complete legislative power, or the supreme administration of justice; or if the entire legislative body had possessed the supreme judiciary, or the supreme executive authority. This, however, is not among the vices of that constitution.
The magistrate in whom the whole executive power resides cannot of himself make a law, though he can put a negative on every law; nor administer justice in person, though he has the appointment of those who do administer it. The judges can exercise no executive prerogative, though they are shoots from the executive stock; nor any legislative function, though they may be advised with by the legislative councils. The entire legislature can perform no judiciary act, though by the joint act of two of its branches the judges may be removed from their offices, and though one of its branches is possessed of the judicial power in the last resort. The entire legislature, again, can exercise no executive prerogative, though one of its branches constitutes the supreme executive magistracy, and another, on the impeachment of a third, can try and condemn all the subordinate officers in the executive department.
The Islamic Republic Constitution is Defective
The above mentioned principle safeguards outlined by James Madison are non-existent in the way and the language that the Islamic Republic Constitution is written. Our Constitution in Iran should be the most important document that protects the rights of all Iranian citizens, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, political belief, creed, sex or physical appearance. A Constitution is the fundamental framework of system of government. A constitution, thus, can be safely said to be a social contract between the government and the people it governs.
Unfortunately, the constitution of the (Islamic Republic of Iran) is a confusing hybrid document between an Islamic state and a republican form of government that was written by few with clear intent to deceive the people of Iran. It has many articles which comply with ‘Islam’ but then there are other articles which are in conflict with it. It is important to point out that for a constitution to be truly Islamic, not even a single article or part of it can contradict Islamic Sharia law. And at the same time, for a constitution to be ‘Republican’, not even a single article can contradict or reject democratic principles. For these reasons Iran’s Islamic Republic Constitution is neither ‘fully Islamic’ nor ‘fully Republic’, and thus it should be dissolved and in its place a new, secular constitution based on republican principles in a Federal System must be adopted.
The form of government in Iran, under the current Islamic Republic constitution is a tyranny, petty, corrupt, and weak, with a few unelected clergy having the final say on all social, cultural, economic and political affairs of the 75 million people. They call themselves Guardian council headed by the supreme leader who decide on all issues with no accountability to the people or to the parliament. Another major defect is that a large number of these clergies and heads of legislature, judiciary and executive are close relatives.
The original framers of the constitution back in 1978-79 had no confidence that they could succeed in overthrowing the monarchy and muster popular support for an Islamic form of a state, so they had been very careful in drafting a type of constitution that was apparently republican based and democratic which was the underlying causes for the whole revolution, but vaguely Islamic at the same time. But once they consolidated power and in essence, hijacked the revolution, Khomaini was persuaded by his comrades to close the door on democracy and crush those who demand democracy in the name of Islam and label the opposition leaders as apostate while the ignorant masses are still frenzied with the appearance of victory of the revolution. Secret hands at work deliberately ignited the Iraq war to divert the national attention from domestic politics to the war with the enemy who attacked the homeland and Khomaini with his partners deliberately prolonged the war until they had completed the consolidation of their powers and planted the ugly seed of a terrible religious tyranny through sheer violence and naked brutality in the name of ‘Islam’. Whoever raised questions about democracy was labeled as enemy of the Islamic revolution and thus enemy of Allah (Mohareb) and was executed to spread fear and terror in the hearts and minds of the people. Many left the country in fear, others went underground, and many joined the regime to survive and wait for the right opportunity to strike. A cold civil war between the people and the new regime pursued with sporadic student demonstrations and other localized uprisings but there was no contest between heavily armed and violent hired goons in the name of revolutionary guards who fought for the loot and their own survival and the unarmed civilians. The previously peaceful society turned into a brutal society in which survival of the fittest has become the rule. While international oil cartel were busy making oil deals in secret and keep the regime funded, the whole nation was very much left on its own and the destitute citizens were hired to spy on the opposing forces and crush them through arrest, rape, torture, imprisonment and executions.
The people of Iran took time to organize and in 2009 after yet another rigged elections they showed the regime and the world that despite the heavy propaganda Islamic republic is neither popular nor powerful and must come to an end and that is where we are today and I believe that 2014 is the final year for the 'Islamic republic tyranny' in its present form as its rulers are faced with two options: either allow rapid reform and a national referendum for a new, secular constitution which is the popular demand , or refuse peaceful political transformation and lead Iran into a civil war after which the regime's rulers will have no place in Iran for a long time. This is where Iran is going and no power on earth can stop it because the time for this idea has come.
What is wrong with Islamic Republic Constitution?
The first and the most important problem with the current Islamic Republic constitution in Iran is that it vests sovereignty not in the people, but in Allah, and establishes Islam and Quran as the only and supreme source of law and the person of the supreme leader, whoever may be, is given the divine right to rule like a tyrant.
As I have mentioned before, Iran’s Islamic Republic Constitution is a curious and confusing hybrid of authoritarian, theocratic and democratic elements. Articles One and Two do vest sovereignty in Allah, but Article Six contradicts Article One and Two, because it mandates popular elections for the presidency and the Majlis, or parliament. Articles 19-42 are similar to a bill of rights, although they are completely disregarded in practice, guarantees, among other things, freedom of expression, freedom of public gatherings or assembly and public marches, women’s equality, protection of ethnic minorities, due process of law and private property, as well as some “second generation” social rights like social security and health care, but the authoritarian nature of the regime only allows some of these rights to be practiced selectively by its own handful of supporters only and not by opposition parties and the nation as a whole which makes a mockery of the republican aspects of the constitution.
The important part is that many Iranian thinkers and political leaders, myself included, have serious problems with Section Eight (Articles 107-112) of the Islamic republic constitution that is referring to the Guardian Council and the position of the “Supreme Leader”. Both the Guardian Council and the office of the Supreme Leader is given enormous unchecked powers. All the democratic procedures and rights in the earlier sections of the constitution are qualified by certain powers reserved for the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader whom are not a popularly elected bodies and are hand-picked by a secretive and behind the scene process. This is like hijacking a plane, shooting the pilot and sitting at the captain’s seat and ordering the co-pilot to fly the plane only to the destinations determined by the supreme hijacker and any passenger who dares to object to this blatant violation is either shot or thrown out of the plane.
The vast and enormous powers, specified in Article 110, that is given to the unelected “Supreme Leader” include control over the armed forces, Foreign Policy, the ability to declare war, and appointment powers over the judiciary, heads of media, and a host of powerful and wealthy religious foundations and shrines with billions of dollars of wealth. Not to mention the unwritten powers of hand picking and approving the candidates who run for parliament, city and regional councils, governors, mayors and all other public offices. Another article lays out conditions under which the Supreme Leader can be removed by the Guardian Council, but that procedure is hardly democratic or transparent and kept completely outside the roam of the public intervention, while the Supreme Leader is the one who hand-picks the members of the Guardian council after all so how could they vote to remove him?. It is a hopeless vicious cycle.
The closest precedent and parallel we can find to this type of tyranny would be the German Constitution adopted after the country was unified in the 1870s, that is some 143 years ago. Pre-World War I Germany had an elected parliament, or Reichstag, but reserved important powers for an unelected Kaiser, particularly in foreign policy and defense. This type of constitution got Germany into big trouble. The unelected body of the leadership controlled the armed forces. Eventually, though, it came to be controlled by the armed forces itself and led Germany into destructive wars and this is one of the worries unfolding in Iran today that if we do not take action to change the constitution and make sure that all three branches of the government are directly elected by the people and are accountable to the people and there are checks and balances between these three branches, we may find ourselves ruled by a military elite that thrives on wars.
Compared to Section Eight, the references in the Iranian Islamic Constitution to Allah and religion as the only source of law are problematic and must be reformed. The religious costumes could, after the introduction of a secular constitution, be the basis for Iran’s judicial evolution into a moderate, liberal democratic and law-governed country. The rule of law was originally rooted in religion in all modern societies where it came to prevail, including the Christian West.
Winds of Change
When the Tunisian assembly recently approved the concept of the “civil state” without making Islam the main source of legislation, and the notion that the state not only protects freedom of belief and religious practice but also “freedom of conscience" it has taken the first step in the right direction for the Muslim world, because the "freedom of Conscience" will allow the citizen to focus on his self-interest that will unleash the productive energy and bring about the desperately needed economic growth that has been the very root cause of all these revolutions to begin with and this would be equal to the Tunisian citizen's key moral obligation to themselves.
Article 2 of the new constitution states that 'Tunisia is a civil state that is based on citizenship, the will of the people and the supremacy of law', and Article 6 in order to assure the innocent and the faithful worried about his religion adds that 'the state protects religion, guarantees freedom of belief, conscience and religious practice; protects sanctities; and ensures the impartiality of mosques and places of worship away from partisan politics' and majority are demanding to add to this article a clause criminalizing takfir [Muslims deeming other Muslims as apostates]. These enlightened bills are the indication that Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey are all on the right track to secure pure secularism that Western nations achieved centuries ago and the secular forces in Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and all other Muslim countries in Asia and Africa will continue to fight to achieve the same.
By ratifying this article, Tunisia moves from being the pioneer of the Arab Spring in 2010 to the pioneer that is correcting the path of the Arab Spring and all pro-democracy revolutions in the Muslim world. As the Arab Spring become characterized by fundamentalist currents dominating Muslim political life and the collapse of countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya, Tunisia is providing a different model: a secular democratic constitution in every sense of the word by unambiguously mentioning the “civil state” without any political or cultural embarrassment in a country that is entirely Muslim. Even the clause that is considered “moderate” in some countries — that is, that Islam is a main source of legislation (as opposed to the source) — was omitted.
A non-Tunisian Arab observer would hardly believe the ratification of the second principle because it has no precedent in even the most secular Arab constitutions past and present, save for the Tunisian constitution under Habib Bourguiba. Article 6 stipulates that “the state shall guarantee freedom … of conscience.” Some Arab observers may not realize how revolutionary that expression is. “Freedom of conscience” not only means freedom of worship but also the freedom to adopt any faith one wishes. And this is the beginning of the road to reform, enlightenment and progress in the Muslim world.
Before he came to power, Rachid Ghannouchi wrote that the concept of ridda [a Muslim Converting to other religions] — which is punishable by death [under Sharia law] — is a political concept that means sedition against the Muslim state, not an ideological concept whereby one leaves Islam.
During a symposium at the Center for Arab Unity Studies, which was held in Tunisia 1½ years ago, Ghannouchi directly asserted the concept of “political ridda” instead of “ideological ridda.” But one should admit that no one imagined Ghannouchi supporting a constitutional article guaranteeing “freedom of conscience,” which is present in the Vatican’s proclamations. The Muslim nations will not earn the respect of the world unless they negotiate this very issue that all men are ultimately accountable to God and not to Man and therefore they must be truly free to choose their own religion as they are guided by their spirit.
In the Synod of Middle East Churches, the previous pope criticized the Arab, Turkish and Iranian worlds for rejecting “freedom of conscience” despite adopting the freedom to practice all religious rites. This is because the political Islamists in Iran have attempted to utilize Islamic state as their own turf and repress the citizen under the disguised and deceptive interpretation of true Islam which has clearly stated 'there is no compulsion in religion'.
The phrase “freedom of conscience” was a religious concept with Thomas Aquinas in the Roman Catholic Church, then became part of Protestant religious thought from the rebellion of Luther to Calvin. Then it became a political concept by the philosopher John Locke, whereby the state has no authority over the beliefs of individuals. It was then adopted by the US political thought that founded the US Constitution. The people of Iran and the Muslim world are now demanding that “freedom of conscience” is an individual’s natural right to decide his or her religious belief and this is the beginning of the constitutional reform movement in the Muslim world.
A Muslim society unambiguously supporting the concepts of the “civil state” and “freedom of conscience” reflects self-confidence. It means that society’s enlightened elite sees no danger facing Islam, which is a deep cultural force throughout the world. This act of self-confidence was made by the country’s liberal, secular and Muslim elites in Tunisia in the face of a fundamentalist stream that is terrified by modernity and wishes to spread that baseless fear among the Muslims that their religion is in danger.
Let’s recall that the first article of the new Tunisian constitution restored without modification the text adopted during the era of President Habib Bourguiba. It reads as follows:
Article 1: Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign state. Its religion is Islam, its language is Arabic and its form of government is a republic.
The phrase about the state’s religion being Islam is in this case natural and logical. But lawmaking and the state’s civil character require nonreligious standards that religion cannot meet, as should be the case in any country that is fully Muslim. (Before Israel’s founding, and for shortly afterward, there used to be a prosperous Jewish minority in Tunisia).
This must be said with enough courage, as did the Tunisian elite via its pioneering constitutional position. It was noted that one of Ennahda’s branches in the capital tried to compensate for its loss (of not including a clause stipulating that Islamic law is one of the sources of legislation) by emphasizing the state’s Muslim religion in Article 1. But that phrase is nothing more than a necessary declaration taken from the previous constitution and describing a fact about Tunisian society and culture, and has definitely nothing to do with lawmaking.
In a moment like this, one should respect the special and wise experience of Ennahda, which has been part of the ruling coalition since the revolution won. This doesn’t preclude the presence of a fundamentalist militant current inside Ennahda. During the discussion about the constitution, current MPs threatened a secular MP and were forced to apologize amid a ruckus that almost halted the constitutional debate. The matter was quickly resolved in a political society that is very sensitive to political assassinations, which have targeted secular figures, leading Tunisian security services, unlike the revolutionary guards in Iran, to react strongly against Muslim extremists and defend the national and popular will.
One should also applaud the Tunisian secular bloc, which some call the “Bourghiban societal bloc” and was built by the secular experience in the era of President Bourguiba. That bloc, with both men and women in it, has struggled in the last three years, in a democratic, industrious and determined way, to prevent the fundamentalist deviation inside and outside the government. Today, we are witnessing, and benefiting from the completion of an unprecedented secular achievement. We can even say that while the secular institution led by Bourguiba was undemocratic, today’s great constitutional achievement made it democratic.
Peace, progress, prosperity and civility will not come to the Muslim world until we have all agreed on the principle of 'Freedom of Conscience" that will unleash the otherwise chained and oppressed millions of Muslim for centuries and this will be the beginning of the true liberation that our long suffering people have been waiting for.
Ending Political Islam
In today’s significant constitutional “moment,” in Egypt, is a pro-civil state movement, even though Egypt is in the midst of an anti-takfirist battle. The Egyptian army succeeded in preventing civil war in Egypt by relying on the Egyptians’ deep-seated peaceful culture. But despite the renewed “militarization” of Egypt’s bureaucracy, what Egypt is witnessing today may in fact turn out to be a foundation for establishing a civil state.
Of course, the current Egyptian constitutional draft is a setback because the meaning of “civil state” is left unclear. That’s because the civil and liberal coalition was forced to ally with the military and make “painful” concessions to the Salafist movement in return for the latter joining and remaining in the alliance.
The main priority of the Egyptian liberal secular elite, just as it is in Iran, is to achieve victory over the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah culture in Iran, both extremist groups, because that is an indispensable prerequisite to consecrate the idea of the civil state, while noting — paradoxically — that Egypt and Iran today need the idea of a civil state more urgently than Tunisia does. Egypt and Iran has both Muslims, Jewish and Christian population, a situation that is different from Tunisia's, which is religiously and denominationally homogenous (almost all belonging to the Maliki sect of Islam), except for a minority of Ibadi Muslims.
The great economist Friedrich Hayek noted that law should be prior to legislation. That is, the law should reflect a broad social consensus on the rules of justice. In the eye of any Iranian, harassing a citizen because of her dress code, or because of walking with a member of the opposite gender, or because of choosing another faith violates the very principle of justice no matter what the source of that law may be. In Europe, it was the church that originally defined the law and sanctity of personal liberty and acted as its custodian. European monarchs respected the rule of law because it was written by an authority higher and more legitimate than themselves, bust sadly, in the Muslim world not only the Mosque and the clergy has not been the guardian of individual liberties but contrary to it, it has been the source of tyranny through the imposition of Sharia Law as the only source of law.
Something similar happened in the pre-modern Middle East. Up until Iran’s 1906 Constitutional revolution, there was a functional separation of religion and state. The ulama or clergy were legal scholars and custodians of Sharia law while the sultans in Turkey and Kings in Iran, exercised political authority. The sultans and kings conceded they were not the ultimate source of law but had to live within rules established by Muslim case law. There was no democracy, but there was something resembling a rule of Sharia law, but the sultans in Turkey and Kings in Iran ended up appointing the ruling clergy and the net result became the Ottoman Empire in Turkey, and Ghajar Dynasty in Iran which established the ugliest form of tyranny in the whole region of West Asia for several centuries and this is what the mullahs in partnership with revolutionary guards have established in Iran since 1979 and devastated the nation in the process and have driven our people to the present dangerous deadlock.
This traditional, religiously based rule of law was most unpopular and was destroyed in the Middle East by the arrival of the Europeans and popular demand for transition to modernity. In Iran it resulted in our 1906 Constitutional revolution which ended up replacing the absolute, incompetent and corrupt monarchs with a constitution that made them marginally accountable and an elected executive authority like Prime Minister, but authoritarian culture, illiterate and politically immature citizens, sell-out by the treacherous few working either for the Colonial British or expansionist and violent Russian Czars gave way to new forms of dictatorships that accepted no constraints, either legislative or judicial, on their power.
The legal scholar Noah Feldman has argued that the current sympathy for a return to Sharia law in many Muslim countries does not necessarily reflect a desire to impose harsh, Taliban-style punishments or oppress women liberties. Rather, it reflects a nostalgia for a dimly remembered historical time when Muslim rulers were not all-powerful autocrats, but respected Islamic rules of justice—Islamic rule of law. Something that has not happened and cannot happen in Iran even though it is called ‘Islamic Republic’ in name for 34 years. The leaders of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and much of the Arab world are not inherently bad or evil people who wish to establish tyranny but that the traditional sharia law ruled social structure becomes inherently tyrannical which is why the present generation considers that the principle of Sharia Law has reached its expiration date and the present internet savvy, educated young urban populations of Iran, Egypt and much of the Muslim world are no longer willing to go back to 17th century lifestyle in 21st century.
So what kind of future should we hope for Iran in light of the gross injustice being imposed upon the people in the name of Sharia law? The only answer is to dissolve the current Islamic Republic Constitution and adopt a new Secular constitution, guaranteeing freedom of Religion and Conscience with sovereignty vested firmly in the people, rather than in any given deity.
The problem with the Green Movement for example, was that both Karubbi and Mousavi are the members of the same regime and since they knew that the present generation of young Iranians soon or later are going to rise up and demand reform, they attempted to hijack their vision and create an artificial loyal opposition in the body of Green Movement so that when the day of reckoning arrives they can save the clergies' skin. But a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence suggests that democracy is not necessarily the agenda of the leaders of the Green Movement. Mousavi and Karubbi have repeatedly said they want Iran to remain an Islamic Republic. These two, leftist, socialist impostures have been a member of the inner circle of the same regime from day one so how could any Iranian fall for their claims that they have come to liberate? They just want power and they want to keep the same Islamist constitution intact.
What Mousavi and Karubbi pretentiously claim is that the democratic features of the present constitution to be better respected, and that the executive authorities, including the Guardian Council and the military and paramilitary organizations stop manipulating elections and respect the rule of law without demanding for constitutional guarantees for freedom of Conscience. But we all know that none of these reforms are possible without a new constitution because the present constitution have clearly given these powers to Guardian Council and Supreme leader. If Mousavi and Karubbi are honest with the people of Iran, then they should openly join the Secularist and Federalist forces and demand a new constitution, as we do.
Iran could never evolve towards a genuine rule-of-law democracy within the broad parameters of the 1979 Islamist constitution. To establish a rule-of-law democracy in Iran it would be necessary not only to abolish Article 110, which gives the Guardian Council control over the armed forces, media, and Foreign Policy, but to abolish the entire constitution and adopt a new and secular one. Keeping the ‘Islamic’ constitution will always be a problem because the vast majority of the young Iranians today do not wish to live under Sharia law that severely limits their personal liberties. They want to abolish the Islamic Republic Constitution and adopt a new, secular constitution and live a European life style and this is the God given right of all people and no one should blame them for asking.
When I speak of Secular Constitution, I am not suggesting that we plan to eliminate religion altogether from the future of Iranian Constitution. The rule of law prevails not because of its formal and procedural qualities, but because it reflects broadly held social norms. If future Iranian rulers are ever to respect the rule of law, it will have to be a law that comes from the hearts of the Iranian people based on common sense and tradition, yet completely within the frame work of a secular constitution. In my view, the government’s function is not to tell the citizens what religion to follow, what clothes to wear, drink or not alcoholic beverage, which country to travel, what television channel to watch, what books to read and how to socialize with opposite sex.
Furthermore, the function of government is not to run businesses, import and export, manufacture cars and mobile phones and packaged food. These should not be the function of any government. Government’s function is to provide safety and security for its citizens, provide an independent judicial system so that all are equal before the law, provide the best of quality education and health for the whole nation, keep a watchful eye on our land, sea and air borders and maintain adequate armed defense forces and through the parliament provide rules and regulations that all citizens live with one another in peace and harmony regardless of their race, religion, creed and social and economic status. That is the function of government that I hope we can establish in Iran after the abolition of the Islamist Republic constitution.
Unless we dissolve this regime and its constitution, the clerical-military dictatorship clique exercising power are likely to drag our country into conflict and wars with other countries in the region just as they did it in 1980 with Iraq to divert the national attention and consolidate their rapidly weakening and diminishing powers. Therefore, there is no other alternative but to push for a change of our political system towards genuine rule of law democracy in a new Federal Republic of Iran and for that to happen we must first dissolve the present Islamic republic constitution and introduce a new, secular constitution and start building a new, modern and free Iran.