The slaughter of democracy by religious tyranny.

Author:Behbudi, Behrooz
Position:Current Affairs/IRAN

As Iranian officials begin their annual rhetoric in praise of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Dr. Behrooz Behbudi, founder of the Center for a Democratic Iran, catalogues a series of calamities the clerical system has brought to the country during 35 years of its despotic rule.

FEBRUARY 11 MARKS THE 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF Iran's 1979 Revolution, a popular uprising that sought to achieve democracy for Iranians by changing the country's system of governance from monarchy to republic.

Thirty-five years ago, unusually in the turbulent Middle East, the Iranian people enjoyed the benefits of a progressive government. But they had failed by all peaceful means to reform the Shah's regime into a democratic one.

So, when the right national and international factors arose, they united with the aim of overthrowing the monarchy. Yet instead of achieving democracy for its people, the Revolution has brought near complete destruction as a result of decades-long rule of the most bloodstained, corrupt and tyrannical regime in Iran's long history.

The Pahlavi dynasty, in the words of the former Shah himself, heard the cry of the Iranian people for freedom too late and, like all other dictatorial regimes in history, could not last in power in the face of the popular revolt of 35 years ago.

However, the people's celebrations were short lived. The new religious leaders who crept into power on the back of the millions of freedom-seeking Iranians soon put up their gallows and firing squads to extirpate the very ideal of democracy from the outset of their rule. And the story that has since unfolded under the whip of the clerical regime has been one of a country being driven back to the darkest medieval days, as religious tyranny and repression have torn--almost to shreds--the social fabric of Iran.

Almost overnight a group of reactionary clerics and their gun-slinging thug supporters, with no experience of running a government or managing the complicated social, cultural and economic affairs of a fast developing and strategically important country, arrogated to themselves the accolade of being 'revolutionaries' of all Iran's civil and military institutions.

They were assisted in their abuse of power by many young and idealistic left-wingers and naive religious activists. These well intentioned individuals became the victims of a bloody wave of purges, launched the moment the new despots had secured their political and military powers.

No sector of Iranian society has...

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