My recent article, « The CIA and the Iranian experiment » caused me to
receive numerous and mostly abusive emails. It had been a very long time
since I last received so many outraged comments. Most of these readers
accuse me of being so blinded by « rabid anti-Americanism » as to defend
the « dictatorship of the mullahs » and to ignore the wave of young
Iranians fighting without weapons « for freedom ». When read carefully,
these emails turn out to be poorly argued, yet they flow with irrational
passion; it is as if one could not talk about Iran without being overcome
by emotion.

Indeed, Iran is a state unlike others. Following the example of France in
1789 and USSR in 1917, Iran in 1979 initiated a revolutionary movement that
questioned fundamental aspects of the triumphant « Western » model; this
was done on the basis of a religious faith. Thirty years later, we « the
Westerners » continue to experience the expression of the Iranian people
as a moral condemnation of our lifestyle, that is to say of a consumer
society and of Imperialism. By contrast, we can only find peace of mind by
persuading ourselves that reality is a dream and that our dreams are real.
The Iranian people would love to live like us but they are held back by a
horrendous turban wearing clergy.

I do not know where to start in order to try to explain modern Iran for
those who want to understand. Thirty years of propaganda have forged many
fake pictures which should be deconstructed one by one. It is a huge task
to see through these lies, and now is not the easiest time to do so. I
simply want to make a few preliminary remarks.

The Islamic revolution has accomplished huge progress: corporal
punishments have become very rare, the rule of law has replaced arbitrary
decisions, women increasingly have access to education, religious
minorities are all protected – with the regrettable exception of the
Baha’is –, etc. Regarding all of these issues for which we call the
current regime despicable, the Iranian people believe on the contrary that
it is far more civilized than the cruel dictatorship of the Shah imposed by
London and Washington.

The Islamic revolution still has a long way to go. It must also come to
terms with its Eastern political system which, in order to make room for
everyone, multiplies administrative structures and results in institutional

Of course, there is a Westernized upper-class who thinks that life was
better in the days of the Shah. They would send their children to study in
Europe and would spend lavishly at parties in Persepolis. The Islamic
Revolution abolished their privileges, and it is their grandchildren who
are now demonstrating in the streets. With the help of the United States.
They want to get back what was taken from their families, which has nothing
to do with freedom.

In a few years, Iran has regained her lost glory. Her people pride
themselves in assisting the Palestinian and Lebanese people, offering to
rebuild their homes destroyed by Israel as well as weapons to defend
themselves and reclaim their dignity. They helped the Afghans and the
Iraqis, victims of pro Western regimes and then of Western regimes
themselves. The Iranians have had to pay dearly for their solidarity, with
war, terrorism and economic sanctions being the price.

As for me, I am a democrat. I attach a lot of importance to popular will.
I did not understand why the victory of George W. Bush was announced before the result of the vote of American citizens in Florida was known. I did not understand either why, with the upper-class in Caracas, Pedro Carmona
should be congratulated for having sent Hugo Chavez to jail after he had
been elected president by the Venezuelan people. I do not understand why
Mahmoud Abbas should be called « Mister President » while preventing the
election of his successor by having the representatives of the Palestinian
people illegally detained in Israeli jails. I do not understand why the
European Constitutional Treaty application is being orchestrated under a
different name after voters rejected it. And today, I do not see which
fantasies justify encouraging the population of the northern neighborhoods
of Tehran to trample on universal voting and impose Mousavi after the
majority of the people chose Ahmadinejad.

English version by J.C.