Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Specter is Haunting Hard-Line Islam

[posted by Callimachus]

The specter of a velvet revolution

Meanwhile, the reaction of Tehran’s clerical regime to this Iranian dissident was as if taken out of the (secular) Soviet cook book. The state-run press, Kayhan and Resalat, and the student agency, Isna, proclaimed the good news of Ramin’s video “confession” in which he uttered mea culpa for his sins: he was to be used by foreign agents (the CIA and Mossad) in order to act against the regime which was once called by the head of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, “the most divine and heavenly” in the world. ... Just as during the Soviet-era witch hunts on domestic spies and Zionists, or during the Joseph McCarthy-era witch hunts of Communists in every closet, so also in Iran today, Ramin Jahanbegloo is far from alone in being compelled to “confess” to appease the regime. Such confessions have been prepared for a televised public propaganda. Just as in the Soviet bloc, so also in Iran assassinations and torture are gradually being replaced by “softer” methods of psychological and economic repression. The Iranian regime uses now more varied threats to keep would-be dissidents in line: threats of financial reprisals, loss of home or medical care, forced exile, or repeated arrest. When Jahanbegloo was released on August 30 of this year, he was given a valid passport, but he had to place as bail both his house and the house of his mother as a guarantee that he would not speak about the tortured origin of his confession or otherwise against the regime.

Good observations throughout and I'll even overlook the absurd and insulting -- though all too common -- moral equation of Stalin and McCarthy.