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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 paralysis.

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.