Marjane Satrapi is the author of the magnificent graphic novel, Persepolis. She also co-directed the movie adaptation of the book. Her story is about being a young girl growing into womanhood in Iran. She is now appealing for help from the United Nations to protect the people in Iran who are protesting against a brutal totalitarian religious regime for freedom. Here is her note:
To all who believe in freedom and democracy
Please sign this petition to the United Nations to stop the violence,
arrests and torture in Iran.
The situation is really really bad.
Please forward it to whoever you know
Best and lots of love
In an act that has probably sealed their doom, the Islamic religious government of Iran brutally murdered a young woman by shooting her in the heart as she stood next to her father at a protest march. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran has threatened the protesters with violence and death. This weekend he delivered on his promise when one of his thugs murdered a woman in front of cell phone cameras. These cameras have enabled the world to watch the brutal horror that comes from a religious government. The girl is Neda Soltan, a 26-year-old philosophy student. She does not know it, but the blood that runs from her in the video is probably going to drown Iran’s government in relatively short order.
Created by Hendy Sukarya, Aaron Chiesa, Toru Kageyama and Lisa Temes as a student production, this film offers interesting information about the revolution of young people in Iran who have made the repressive Islamic nation the third largest nation of bloggers in the world. It is very well done and packs a good informational punch. Young bloggers getting their words out from under the watchful eye of an extremist religious government is admirable. But a nation that becomes a fanatical religious state run by clerics who kill people for speaking out cannot be trusted even a little. That goes for its young bloggers too. I am wholly unconvinced by the urge to ‘freedom’ in Iran. It requires a fire much stonger than a blog to burn religion out of a government.
The rallies and protests in support of opposition presidential candidate Hossein Moussavi or current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran are totally irrelevant. The president of Iran is purely a middle-management position that reports to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenie who is an Islamic religious leader of a theocratic state. The protesters in the current uprising are arguing for their votes to be counted in a meaningless election which does nothing but support a theocratic regime that rules the entire country by their interpretation of the word of god. The religious government of Iran completely suppresses anything that might pass as free speech, it treats women like animals who have no rights and who count as only one half of a man. It also threatens to wipe other nations off the face of the globe.
If I were a crowd of a few million protesters in Iran (after all, crowds often act as a single entity), I would not bother about protesting presidential votes. I would remove the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Counsel completely and by any means necessary. I would eliminate the religious government entirely. Only then would the protests have any meaning. Only then would there be any possibility of a free election. And only then would I take the protests seriously. It’s all or nothing, folks. If you don’t like your government, get rid of it. Meanwhile, you’re just a side-show.
The protests raging over the recent presidential election in Iran are an expression of distrust of the official election results that seem to declare the current and totally insane president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the overwhelming victor. Riots are becoming extremely violent, with police beatings in the streets and clouds of black smoke rising above Tehran. However, the arguments over whether or not the election was fraudulent are a complete waste of energy. No election in any country that does not have a free press can ever be legitimate. Without a free press to report on an election and possible election fraud there is no one to hold a sitting government accountable to the people. You cannot have a democracy or an election in a country that does not allow reporters freedom to write whatever they want. It’s impossible. Iran’s election is fraudulent because Iran’s government is controlled entirely by Islamic clerics who have absolutely no respect for freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of religion, freedom of education, or freedom of women.
I define as barbaric any country anywhere on the planet that forces women to wear specific attire. Iran is a barbaric nation with a population of extremely fearful males lacking in an essential self-confidence. This is what drives male-dominated Islamic governments to require certain codes of conduct and dress for women. In countries where elections are legitimate women wear shorts and makeup. Think I’m just being glib? Go check it out.
Iran has cut off internet services, cell phone service, and texting services in order to prevent discussion and organization of opponents to the religious government. It has arrested journalists, shut down newspapers, and confiscated television cameras in a crackdown on activities of the international media in Iran. These are the actions of a total dictatorship.
In fact, there is almost no hope at all for the protesters in Iran. Even if they succeed in overturning the election, they would not be able or willing to eliminate religious control of their government. Countries ruled by Islam are permanently and hopelessly barbaric. It’s like a law of physics that’s completely unbreakable.
The root of the problem with Iran is the root of the problem for almost every single government in the Middle East: religious control. There is no possibility of the slightest freedom of expression or freedom for women in any country controlled by a religious entity. None whatsoever.
Photo from AFP/Getty