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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Iranian.com: Dying for democracy

Iranian.com,Jahanshahe Javid:
Akbar Ganji is dying in a hospital in Tehran. He is not a prophet. He is not calling for a revolution. He is not doing George Bush a favor. He is a man who speaks his mind and is willing to die for it. But he must not die. We must do everything we can to force the authorities to let him go home.
Ganji is not everyone's favorite dissident. He quotes Khomeini, he looks up to Ayatollah Montazeri, and his circle of friends and allies includes leading religious reformists such as Saeed Hajjarian and Abdolkarim Soroush. Because of his solid religious foundation and credentials as a keen supporter of the Islamic Republic in earlier years, some doubt his transformation into a democrat.
Also there's the issue of timing. Naturally some are worried that the Ganji affair may weaken Iran's position in this sensitive stage in negotiations with Europe over nuclear technology. Another concern is that the adverse publicity created by Ganji's hunger strike will not only fail to do anything for the pro-democracy movement but will give another excuse for the Bush Administration and the neo-cons to portray the IRI as a vicious police state with deadly nuclear ambitions.

Ganji's words and, more importantly his actions, leave little doubt in my mind that his belief in democracy and the separation of church and state are genuine. His forward ideas are an important part of the continuing evolution of the religious establishment.

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