January 15, 2006 VOLUME 20


To our readers,

2005 closed with harsher rhetoric and radical policies coming from the fundamentalist regime in Tehran. Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad began the 2006 with an escalated policy of violence against women. Within the first two weeks of the new year, the Iranian regime condemned three women to death, including two teenagers, launched “acid attack” on young women who do not observe the Islamic dress codes in public, closed women’s publication and proposed a law to segregate public pedestrian walkways on gender basis.

Nationwide suppression and violence will be on the rise in the coming months for several reasons:

-          Ahamdinejad’s regime plans to set an example for the radical Islamists in Iraq, hence, there will be zero tolerance of dissent in Iran.

-          Offering any breathing room to women and young people in Iran will spin the control out of Ahmadinejad’s regime, hence suppressive and monitoring policies are in full gear.

-          Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons and continued meddling in Iraq is high on Ahmadinejad’s agenda and foreign policy, hence he will not allow for any domestic disturbance to derail this agenda.

So, given the rising threat of his regime, what can the international community do in defense of people of Iran and Iraq?

Total diplomatic and political isolation of the Iranian regime will empower the voice of change and resistance to Islamic Fundamentalism in both Iran and Iraq. Iran is clearly on a nuclear path to a bomb. Ahmadinejad is clearly on a policy path to an Islamic Fundamentalist empire. Combination of the two is clearly a danger to both world peace and security. The time for action is now and the key to defeat Islamic Fundamentalism is to rely on progressive and homegrown voices for change. Both Iran and Iraq have very organized and progressive voices and groups, led by secular Muslim women and men, to end the plague of Islamic Fundamentalism in their respective countries. It is imperative that policymakers and international community rely on these groups and leaders to bring about meaningful change and lasting peace in the region.

E-Zan Featured Headlines

The Daily Telegraph, UKDecember 18, 2005

Now, Iranians are bracing themselves for Mr. Ahmadinejad, who himself rose through the ranks of the Basij, to usher in a return to the more fearful times. They also foresee the new president turning Iran into a pariah state, making it difficult for Iranians to travel abroad or to have contact with foreigners who visit. A Teheran lawyer who represents wealthy Iranians said that over the past few months he had been advising them to convert their assets into dollars and invest overseas.


Iran Focus – December 19, 2005

A powerful cleric rejected the notion of women taking up posts in the assembly of theologians who choose the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic. Speaking in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, Abdol-Nabi Namazi, a senior Shiite cleric and a member of the Assembly of Experts, said, “According to Islamic law, the presence of women in institutions such as the Assembly of Experts is not necessary, even if they were religious scholars”. The Assembly of Experts, an exclusively clerical body, designates the country’s all-powerful Supreme Leader.
Namazi said that under Islamic law women had to stay at home to raise children as a priority to all other work. ”The most important reason for the prevalence of moral corruption in society is the weak role played by mothers in families”, Namazi said. “If we give other jobs to women that will weaken the families”.


Associated Press– December 20, 2005

A young woman driving through the Iranian capital blared the Eagles' "Hotel California" from her car speakers - an act that would have gotten her pulled over by police, and possibly arrested…"Don't take this man seriously," the 25-year-old scoffed, referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But some fear the ban that Ahmadinejad enacted Monday is a sign of more to come. The order affects only state-run television and radio, which occasionally play Western music - without lyrics - in the background of newscasts or other programs.” We are concerned about the cultural policies of this government," said Hamid Vafaei, director of a music school in Tehran. "History has proved that a policy of restrictions can't work for long.”Ahmadinejad was elected in June after promising a return to the values of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolution. So far, his ultra-conservative stances have been reflected more in foreign policy, taking a tough line in nuclear negotiations with Europe and outraging the West with a series of anti-Israeli comments.


NCR-Iran Website – December 23, 2005

In the short time after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken office as president of the Iranian regime, more than 120 prisoners have been either executed or condemned to death. A significant number of the victims were less then 18 years at the time of offence. The head of the regime’s security forces, Salehi, told local media recently that over 12,000 people have been arrested in Tehran alone in the past 57 days on dubious charges of “hooliganism.” The Presidency of the European Union said in its December 20 declaration: “The EU is deeply concerned that the human rights situation in Iran has not improved in any significant respect in recent years, and in many respects has worsened. Use of the death penalty is frequent, including for minor crimes, and executions are often carried out in public.” The EU Presidency had also alluded to the unsuccessful human rights dialogue with the Iranian regime and said the negotiations had faltered in June 2004 and the regime had not agreed to another round… Mr. Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said that the Iranian Resistance had on several occasions pointed out that negotiations and dialogue with the Iranian regime, which has executed 120,000 political prisoners and grossly violates the rights of women, and ethnic and religious minorities, has no legitimacy and will only result in more repression, executions, and torture in Iran.


Dutch News Agency (DPA) – December 24, 2005

Following the final approval by the Teheran municipality, women above the age of 23 and with a high school diploma are entitled to apply for the new job after passing the necessary education programme. The manager of the Teheran fire department, Ahmad Ziaei, told Fars that the women could especially be used in incidents in which only females are present, giving a women-only indoor pool as an example.


United Press International – December 25, 2005

"Democracy, modernity and freedom will never happen without (the support of) women," Chesler told United Press International in an interview. "We need to have a universal standard for human rights. We can and we must if we believe in the importance of our ideals." Chesler's views on the negative impact of moral and cultural relativism are shared by Ramesh Sepehrrad, president of the National Committee of Women for Democratic Iran… Sepehrrad spoke of her dismay that Iranian women had been abandoned by the feminist wing. Despite living in a country that still practices stoning, and where -- according to an unnamed dissident cited by Chessler -- "being born female is both a capital crime and a death sentence," in Tehran this summer women took to the streets, chanting "misogyny is the root of tyranny." These actions went unacknowledged by feminists in the West, Sepehrrad said sadly. Gender apartheid can be ended, Sepehrrad argued. In Iran there must be external "support (for) the indigenous voice for regime change. But the silence from the West is deafening."


Iran Focus – December 26, 2005

More than ten percent of street-children in the Iranian capital, Tehran, are girls, according to a report in the Fars news agency, which is close to the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The report quoted a senior official in the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs as saying that 11 percent of runaway children in the capital were girls. It added that the most common age group for street-children is 15-19 years old, most of whom have only attended junior school. A recent study last year revealed that fourteen percent of all children in Iran are currently working so as to provide income for their families. The report pointed out that many of these children were forced into illegal employment such as smuggling, selling narcotics, and prostitution and had to forgo any opportunity of studying in school. Most are facing malnutrition and prone to diseases due to lack of hygiene, according to the latest statistics. Iranian authorities had recently announced that the number of street children throughout the country was in the hundreds of thousands.  According to a separate report in the state-run daily Iran on Sunday, organized gangs are selling many young Iranian girls to wealthy men in places such as Dubai. The daily hinted that the groups may have been given a green light by Iran’s hard-line judiciary, which has given lenient sentences to individuals arrested for selling the girls.
It said that some were freed straight away after paying a small sum as bail.


State-run daily IranDecember 28, 2005

The state-run daily Iran reported that a man involved in human trafficking of young Iranian girls, each sold in Arab countries for over 50 million rials (US$4,600), received a prison term of three to five months. An appeals court, however, overturned the ruling and released the smuggler and ordered him to pay a fine of just US$275. [NCR-Iran Website: The Iranian regime has executed minors on much lesser charges and continues to issue stoning to death verdicts. But the regime’s judiciary deals quite leniently with networks of human traffickers of young Iranian girls and women, since the ring leaders of such networks are mostly linked to the ruling mullahs who profit from the illicit trade.
On rare occasions when one of these ring leaders is arrested, they eventually walk free after paying less than 6% of what they earn from selling a single woman. Iranian state-run newspapers have reported that hundreds of girls and women are smuggled and sold in
Persian Gulf states and Pakistan every month.]


Reuters – January 2, 2006

Iranian government ordered the closure of a daily newspaper and banned a new women's bi-weekly from publication in the first media crackdown since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in August. "The Supervisory Board on the Press agreed to the temporary closure of Asia newspaper and Nour-e Banovan and ordered their cases sent to court," said the Culture Ministry in the ban, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.


Iran Focus – January 4, 2006

In the latest “acid attack” by radical Islamists on young women accused of ignoring the country’s strict dress regulations, two female university students had acid splashed on their faces in the town of Shahroud, north-eastern Iran. The two women, aged 21 and 22, study geography in Shahroud’s Open University. Unidentified assailants traveling on a motorbike moved next to them in Ferdowsi Street and threw acid on their faces as they were walking. The attackers immediately left the scene and have not been arrested. Radical Islamists operating under the umbrella of the paramilitary Bassij force and Ansar-e Hezbollah have stepped up their campaign against the “mal-veiling” of women and girls since the election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian President regularly addresses meetings of these Islamic vigilantes and praises their efforts “to purify the Islamic Republic of the vestiges of corrupt Western culture”.


Iran Focus – January 7, 2006

An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece. She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.
As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said. The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death. Last week, a court in the city of
Rasht, northern Iran, sentenced Delara Darabi to death by hanging charged with murder when she was 17 years old. Darabi has denied the charges.


State-run daily Etemad, January 8, 2006

The state-run daily Etemad reported that the clerical regime’s judiciary has condemned an 18-year-old girl for killing a man who attempted to rape her. [NCR-Iran Website: The victim, identified as Nazanin, was attacked when only 17 by three men who attempted to rape her and her niece. In the scuffle that followed, Nazanin acted in self-defense which resulted in the death of one of the attackers. She testified in court: “I only committed homicide while trying to defend myself and my niece. I had no intention of killing that man. At that moment I didn’t know what to do because nobody came to help us.” The murderous judges ignored Nazanin’s testimony, the facts in the case and the testimony of eye-witnesses that corroborated her version of the incident, and condemned her to death. The assailants were reportedly members of the suppressive paramilitary Bassij force in the city of Karaj (west of Tehran).]


Michigan News – January 10, 2006

Now the latest is that his regime has programmed the city streets. Iran’s "pedestrian walkways" will be segregated on "gender basis," according to Iran Focus. The deputy in Iran’s Majilis (Parliament) has stated that this is to be law. It is the contention of Fatemeh Alia that "new measure have been enforced to “return to the Islamic Republic to the days of the (1979 Islamic) revolution." Both Ahmadinejad and Alia will work in concert to see that more restrictions are placed upon the public. No leniency. No hints of democracy. No opening the windows to freedom. It is instead a return to closure. "As part of the government plan called “Increase the hejab (veil) culture and female chastity”, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has received orders to construct separate pedestrian walkways for men and women, according to Alia." It will be in two weeks that the program will be made public and put into operation. "This plan is the most advanced and complete plan regarding the hejab."


E-Zan Featured Reports


Islamic Gender Apartheid

Frontpage Magazine, By Dr. Phyllis Chesler

December 15, 2005

According to one Iranian dissident, “being born female is both a capital crime and a death sentence.” Today, the plight of both women and men in the Islamic world, and in an increasingly Islamized Europe, demands a sober analysis and a heroic response. In a democratic, modern, and feminist era, women in the Islamic world are not treated as human beings.  Women in Iran and elsewhere in the Islamic world are viewed as the source of all evil. Their every move is brutally monitored and curtailed. The smallest infraction – a wanton wisp of hair escaping a headscarf – merits maximum punishment: Flogging in public, or worse. This is happening in Iran even as we speak.  In 2005, a hospital in Tehran was accused of refusing entry to women who did not wear head-to-toe covering… Women in Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and increasingly in Egypt, are veiled from head to toe.  They live in purdah and lead segregated lives. Women are also forced into arranged and polygamous marriages, often when they are children and often too much older men or to first cousins. Girls and women are routinely beaten. Woman-beating is normalized and culturally sanctioned and those who dare protest it are shamed, beaten savagely, and sometimes even honor-murdered by their own families. According to the Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran, two out of every three Iranian women have experienced serious domestic violence.  Eighty one per cent of married women have experienced domestic violence in their first year of marriage.  In addition, every year, millions of Muslim women are genitally mutilated—and this is not only happening in Muslim Africa.  It is increasingly happening in Iran and in Europe and in North America where the procedures are quietly carried out in hospitals.

Most runaway girls in Iran are raped within the first 24 hours of their departure. The majority of such runaway rape victims are rejected by their families after they are raped.  When Iranian girls or women run away from abusive homes, they are also quickly trafficked into prostitution, which has increased alarmingly in the last decade in Iran and which now includes temporary marriages that allow men to “marry for only an hour.”  Rape victims and suspected prostitutes are quickly jailed and repeatedly raped, and often impregnated, by their guards.  In 2004, nearly 4,000 women were arrested in Tehran alone.  Six hundred and forty nine were girls below the age of 14. Iranian women are worn down every minute and in every way in their private lives.  For example, in the summer of ’05, a court in Tehran barred a young woman from working after her estranged husband complained that she was only allowed to be a housewife.  This woman had been battered and she had fled the marriage two years earlier.  But the court confirmed her husband’s right to bar her from working outside the home.  In November of ’05, an 80-year-old husband clubbed his 50-year-old wife to death, “because he could not tolerate her wearing makeup outside the home”.  In October of ’05, female civil servants at Iran’s culture ministry were forced to leave the office by dusk “to be with their families”. One female journalist, who works nightshifts at an Iranian newspaper said: “This decree means that I will be jobless soon.”

And then there are the public and terrifying atrocities.

Increasingly in Iran, women are publicly hung or are slowly and painfully stoned to death for alleged adultery or for having been raped.  Public amputations, floggings, and executions are “almost a daily spectacle”.  If women (and men) publicly protest such heartbreaking barbarities, they are slandered as “anti-Muslim,” arrested, and often murdered by the state.

The bravery of Iranian demonstrators is therefore heart stopping. They know precisely what can and will happen to them and still they demonstrate.  In Tehran this past summer of ’05, women protested Iran’s clerical rulers.  They chanted “Freedom, freedom, freedom!” and called for a referendum on religious rule.  They chanted “Unequal law means inhuman justice” and “Misogyny is the root of tyranny.”  Earlier in March of ’05, demonstrators at Tehran University demanded that women have a right to choose what they wear; that women must be free to choose their husbands and to marry or to divorce; that any kind of sex trade and human trafficking should be forbidden; that polygamy must be illegal.

Many Muslim women are also honor murdered by their families—yes, by their mothers as well as by their fathers and older brothers for the crime of wanting to go to college, marry for love, end abusive marriages, or go to the movies. Honor murders are usually horrific, very primitive. The girls or women are be-headed or they are stabbed many times, or slowly choked to death.  I write about all this in my most recent book, The Death of Feminism.  What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom

I call this systemic mistreatment: "Islamic gender Apartheid."

If we do not oppose and defeat Islamic gender Apartheid, democracy and freedom cannot flourish in the Arab and Islamic world.  If we do not join forces with Muslim dissident and feminist groups; and, above all, if we do not have one universal standard of human rights for all—then we will fail our own Judeo-Christian and secular western ideals. We will also inherit the whirlwind. If we do not stop Islamic gender and religious Apartheid abroad, be assured: It is coming our way soon. Indeed, it is already here… If we, as Americans, want to continue the struggle for women's and humanity's global freedom, we can no longer allow ourselves to remain inactive, anti-activist, cowed by outdated left and European views of colonial-era racism that are meant to trump and silence concerns about gender. As I see it, everything is at stake.  This is not the time for ideological party lines. It is a time for action, clarity, and unity.  As Americans, we must acknowledge that Islamic religious and gender Apartheid are evil and have no justification.  I would like us to support Muslim and Arab dissidents in their fight against Islamic gender apartheid and against tyranny.  To fail this opportunity betrays all that we believe in…


Women, Islam, and the New Iraq

December 27, 2005
Foreign Affairs, By Isobel Coleman

Article 14 of Iraq's new constitution, approved in a nationwide referendum held on October 15, states that Iraqis are equal before the law "without discrimination because of sex." Yet the constitution also states that no law can be passed that contradicts the "established rulings" of Islam. For this reason, the new document has been condemned by critics both inside and outside Iraq as a fundamental setback for a majority of Iraq's population -- namely, its women. According to Isam al-Khafaji, an Iraqi scholar, the document "could easily deprive women of their rights." Yanar Muhammad, a leading secular activist and the head of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, worries that the Islamic provision will turn the country "into an Afghanistan under the Taliban, where oppression and discrimination of women is institutionalized."

These criticisms are not without merit, and the ambiguity of the new constitution is a cause for concern… Many secular Iraqis worry, however, that Article 39 will lead instead to an Iranian-style theocracy, which would severely limit women's rights in particular. Adnan Pachachi, the former Iraqi foreign minister and a secular Sunni leader, told The New York Times in August that although he agreed with much of the new constitution, he was troubled by its more overtly Islamic provisions. "They want to inject religion into everything, which is not right," he said. "I cannot imagine that we might have a theocratic regime in Iraq like the one in Iran. That would be a disaster."

Indeed, Iran's theocracy has been a disaster on multiple fronts, including women's rights. In the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, Iran's new government quickly suspended the country's progressive family law, disallowed female judges, and strongly enforced the wearing of the hijab. Within a few months, sharia rulings lowered the marriage age to nine, permitted polygamy, gave fathers the right to decide who their daughters could marry, permitted unilateral divorce for men but not women, and gave fathers sole custody of children in the case of divorce. Over the intervening years, Iranian activists, including some conservative religious women, have managed to soften some of the harshest inequalities. But anything approaching the Iranian system would still represent a major setback for Iraq's women. Iraq's constitution does not specify who will decide which version of Islam will prevail in the country's new legal system. But the battle has already begun…

Women's organizations and moderates across the country quickly mobilized against the new regulation. They held rallies, press conferences, and high-level meetings with the American authorities to make their concerns known…In Iraq, unlike in many other Muslim nations, women will have a strong advantage in their fight for equality: namely, a provision in the new constitution that guarantees them 25 percent of the seats in parliament. This quota is the product of intense lobbying by women's groups, who feared being left out of the new Iraqi politics. It also has some grounding in Iraqi history. The Baathists gave women the vote and the right to run for office in 1980; within two decades, women had come to occupy 20 percent of the seats in Iraq's rubber-stamp parliament (compared to a 3.5 percent average in the region) and some prominent cabinet positions. After the invasion, U.S. policymakers were sympathetic to women's concerns that they would lose their political position in an election process dominated by conservative Shiites. Washington also wanted to support Iraqi women without directly challenging religious convictions. Instituting a quota seemed a good way to do both… The status of women in the future Iraq will also depend in large part on the strength of the country's judicial system…

Although the status of Iraqi women will ultimately depend on Iraqis themselves, the United States can still play a constructive role. Washington should start by identifying and cultivating Islamic feminists within Iraq's mainstream religious parties. These women (and men) may not want to cooperate with the United States at first, and some of them will hold anti-American views. But these individuals wield far more political influence than the secular but marginalized Iraqi leaders who are popular in Washington, and the United States must learn how to work with them.
Indeed, the
United States should work with Iraqi women across the religious spectrum in order to cultivate new leaders. Thanks to the quota system, there is no question that Iraqi women will continue to play a significant role in national politics in the years ahead, and Washington should help ensure that it is a moderating one…The United States should also assist with judicial reform. This means not only helping the courts modernize technologically, but also training judges, especially women, in modern Islamic jurisprudence.

In the next year, a new Iraqi parliament will be elected with the power to write laws that will shape the country for the next generation. Washington must therefore do everything it can to aid Iraqi women's groups and programs designed to help women leaders there. Efforts such as the U.S.-funded legal-education program at the University of Baghdad, where women make up 40 percent of the participants in rule-of-law seminars, should be expanded to other universities and cities across Iraq. Washington should also consider establishing a women's college in Baghdad, which could become a center of learning and critical thinking for the entire region.

The United States should also start channeling a significant portion of its reconstruction dollars to Iraqi businesswomen. Economic empowerment is a good way to boost the status of women. Despite the enormous sums of American aid flowing into Iraq, the U.S. mission in Baghdad has so far resisted having an adviser on gender issues on the ground in Iraq -- where programs to support women are actually implemented. As a result, its many gender initiatives have not been nearly as effective as they could have been.
Although the
United States has now missed this and several other important opportunities to promote the role of women in post-Saddam Iraq, the imposition of sharia there was virtually inevitable. But the resurgence of Islamic law in Iraq need not be a disaster for women. Although it may well mean a short-term setback in certain rights enjoyed under Saddam, in the long run, Iraqis may manage to build a more equitable society that accommodates both Islamic principles and a modern role for women. This outcome is far from guaranteed, but it is also not too much to hope for.


Iran’s Future, Watch the streets.

International Herald Tribune, By Peter Ackerman and Ramin Ahmadi

January 5, 2006

For months Iranian activists and even moderate clerics have been concerned about the radical tendencies of Iran's new president, Mahout Ahmadinejad. In the past few weeks - after he said that the Holocaust was a myth, called for Israel to be wiped off the map and banned Western music from state-run radio and television, the concern spread around the world.

But there is another development in Iran - this one positive and with great potential - that the world should not miss: civic defiance against Ahmadinejad's authoritarianism is increasing.

From the outset of his term, the new president's policies exhibited a volatile mixture of nationalism and radical Islamic social engineering. While touting Iran's nuclear program, he has promised to redistribute wealth to the poor and curb capitalists (without yet delivering on either promise).

Ahmadinejad's language has been replete with contempt for religious and ethnic minorities, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, rejection of compromise, and readiness for violence in dealing with the political opposition and minorities, including Kurds and Arabs. His performance is disturbingly reminiscent of those of European fascist leaders of the 1920s and 1930s.

While policy makers and pundits in the West are rightly chagrined by the language coming from Iran's new leader, less has been said and little has been done by the international community - now or in the past - to support ordinary citizens in Iran who have persistently been pressing for genuine democracy, the rule of law and economic opportunity. Iranians are risking imprisonment or worse by engaging in protests, not to satisfy American or European foreign policy, but because they are fed up living with fear, economic misery and arbitrary edicts from unelected clerics.

Against all odds, nonviolent tactics such as protests and strikes have gradually become common in Iran's domestic political scene. Medical professionals, teachers and workers have gone on strike. Last month, Tehran's bus drivers walked off the job, paralyzing the city. In the week of the presidential elections, more than 6,000 Iranian women took to the streets to protest discriminatory laws, especially the ban on women from running for the presidency.

Student activists have frequently resorted to strikes, sit-ins and demonstrations, and the violent response of the regime and repeated attacks of the paramilitaries have not succeeded in silencing them. From prison, a leading dissident and defector from the Revolutionary Guards, Akbar Ganji, is electrifying the country with hunger strikes, declaring the regime illegitimate.

Unfortunately these are uncoordinated actions, and their organizers have not known how to anticipate and counter the inevitable repressive countermeasures - beatings, detentions, torture and extrajudicial executions. While there is a grass-roots movement for equal rights and civil liberties waiting to be roused in Iran, its cadres so far lack a clear strategic vision and steady leadership.

Moreover, the failure of Iran's parliamentary reformists and the ensuing victory of Ahmadinejad have tumbled society into a mood of despair. But the new president's failure to deliver on any of his crowd-pleasing promises will surely create a new opportunity for Iranians who remain determined to resist repression and demand real economic reform.

That determination should also be reflected by the international community in what it does to support freedom and justice in Iran. Governments should increase pressure on Tehran to stop human rights abuses and release political prisoners. Nongovernmental organizations around the world should expand their efforts to assist Iranian civil society, women's groups, unions and journalists. And the global news media should finally begin to cover the steady stream of strikes, protests and other acts of opposition. A regime like the one in Tehran always wants to pretend that it is popular and legitimate, whether it is or not.

There is a historical legacy of such help being effective. Catholics in Europe and the United States aided the trade union Solidarity in Poland and the "people power" movement in the Philippines. African-American organizations gave crucial support to South African civic groups fighting apartheid. American labor unions backed the anti-Pinochet campaign in Chile. In each instance, the objective was assistance, not interference. That can also be the model in Iran.

The constituency for justice and equality in Iranian society is vast but inchoate. Yet it is those Iranians, and not the power-hoarding, self-enriching members of the repressive government, who will ultimately shape Iran's future. Their prospects will not be enhanced either by pleading with Iran's rulers for moderation or threatening external intervention.

As with a score of other peoples who transformed their countries from below - such as Poland, South Africa, the Philippines, Chile, Ukraine and Lebanon - Iranians themselves can summon the will and apply the nonviolent strategies that dissolve oppression.

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Volume 20, January 15, 2006

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