18 February 2009

Tolerant and Peaceful Iran

I heard an interesting piece on National Public Radio this morning as I was headed to work so I thought I would share it with you. Follow me on a trip, if you would, back to that bastion of peace, love and tolerance, Iran. (Insert extremely sarcastic remark here) I’m not sure how many of you keep track of the Nobel Peace Prize awardees, I don’t, but in Iran there resides the 2003 Nobel Laureate and women’s rights activist Shirin Ebadi. This is one brave woman, let me tell you. Last year, she challenged the Iranian government to stick to its commitment to international rules on children’s rights and stop executing children for crimes they commit. Yes, Virginia, Iran executes children who commit crimes in accordance with Sharia Law which is based on the peaceful, civilized, tolerant religion of Islam. (Insert next extremely sarcastic remark here)

So what is Ms. Ebadi up to now? Well, it seems in December last year she organized a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such a noble cause, human rights, isn’t it? I mean we as a global, civilized society do indeed have an obligation to recognize that all human beings have basic rights; rights such as to live, to eat, to work, to speak freely, to worship freely, to be able to send your daughter to school without fear of her having acid thrown in her face or being gang-raped or burned alive or treated like property…all of which is almost non-existent in the peaceful, tolerant Islamic-led governments like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE, etc.

Guess what happened to Ms. Ebadi; go ahead, guess. An hour before the ceremony was to begin Iranian police arrived, broke up the gathering and shut down Ms. Ebadi’s Human Rights Defenders Center. Why did they do this? Why would this peaceful, tolerant country silence a human rights activist’s voice? Well, Ms. Ebadi had the audacity to provide the UN with a report on human rights abuses in Iran which resulted in the UN’s censure of Iran. So, they shut her down and in January a lot of young men arrived at her home in Tehran chanting anti-American slogans, spray painting her apartment building and accusing her of working for America. She called the police but they evidently just let it happen; small wonder since this is the same police that shut her down in December.

There are others subject to this treatment; Ibrahim Yazdi who is head of the Freedom Movement of Iran has been harassed, arrested and prevented from running candidates in elections because of their liberal reformist agenda. Two Iranian doctors, Arash and Kamiar Alaei travel the world treating AIDS cases and attending medical conferences were arrested on espionage charges and found guilty of working for Americans trying to overthrow the Iranian government. And who is to blame for this crackdown by the Iranian government? Why the United States, of course! Just ask Mohammed Marandi, a professor of American studies at Tehran University; Mr. Marandi believes the US has been officially funding groups in Iran dedicated to overthrowing Iran’s government.

So, the Islamic-led government of Iran which opposes freedom and equal rights starts cracking down on the voices for freedom and equal rights and blames the United States for it. Where is the outrage from all of the supposedly peaceful Muslims? Where are the riots of tolerant Muslims chanting “Down with Iran” and burning the Iranian flag? Where are the world protests against Iran’s treatment of these activists? They’re sitting at home blaming America for the evil Islam has brought to the world, that’s where.

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