Friday, June 30, 2006

Akbar Ganji: Islamic Democracy is Meaningless

Shirin Karimi, Rooz Online:
Iran’s best-known imprisoned dissident journalist released last month who is touring Europe said in Paris, “We are all in the same boat and have a duty to defend the lost rights of people. I think the regime running Iran is a monarchial.” Speaking at the center for Dialogue and Democracy in Paris, Ganji said that the regime in Iran before and after the 1979 revolution has in fact remained monarchial.It is important for us to know what we are trying to replace with what,” he said in reference to his opposition to the current rulers of Iran. “We can overthrow the current dictatorship and replace it with another one, just as we did in the past when we replaced the monarchy with the Islamic Republic,” he said.

In his talk to a group of Iranians in Paris, he said that Iranian intellectuals and elite had to believe that democracy was the only way to solve the country’s problems. “There are differences, but they must be resolved through dialogue,” he said adding that this was a democratic principle. “We must acknowledge each other despite our differences, which will be a miracle in Iran.” He went on to explain that democracy had been presented in 3ways: republican, constitutional monarchical, and, within a limited and constitutional velayat-e vaghih (Islamic jurisprudent). Arguing against the other two possibilities, Ganji said he believed in the republican form of democracy. “I believe in a republic,” he said adding that some had even advocated a titular religious leader who would only have ceremonial powers like the queen in the UK. READ MORE

It is not enough to say that I gained power through democratic means,” Ganji said pointed to the example in Algeria and adding, “But look what it is doing since then.” If elections were held today in the Middle East the fundamentalists would come to power and then there would be no way to remove them,” Ganji said. Iran is the only exception. If free elections were held, democrats would win,” Ganji said adding that in a democratic system just as groups come to power through democratic means, it should also be possible to remove them through democratic practices. I categorically do not believe in Islamic, Eastern, Western, etc democracies or Islamic human rights, Western human rights, Eastern human rights, etc,” he concluded saying Islamic democracy made no sense.