Ayatollah's Democracy Free read à 100

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Oduces top level politicians and clerics as well as ordinary people even Jewish community leaders all expressing pride for their ancient heritage and fierce independence from the West In the tradition of Jon Lee Anderson’s The Fall of Baghdad The Ayatollahs’ Democracy is a powerful dispatch from a country at a historic turning point. Not as poignant or prolific as his first book but still an interesting read on Iran s version of democracy from a very well informed and meticulously researched perspective I like that Majd has the uniue perspective of having been born in Iran raised in the US worked and lived in Iran for many years including for the former president and is still a translator for the administration He really does have a uniue point of view from which to analyze Iran s political social and economic situation

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Ayatollah's Democracy

Opposition still believes in the Iranian republic for them “green” represents not a revolution but a civil rights movement pushing the country inexorably toward democracy albeit a particular brand of “Islamic democracy” With witty candid and stylishly intelligent reporting Majd himself the grandson of an esteemed ayatollah intr. Perhaps in 2009 you remember cheering for the Greens hoping for global peace with the vibrant youth of Iran A deeply connected sympathetic and neutral journalist tries to document the facts which is useful for international understanding but also for history Majd naturally is Fluent in Farsi and knows some of the key individuals personally Perhaps without burning his bridges he writes with a harsh honesty in the tradition of the late Rafsanjani who believed that honest appraisal was a key attribute of islamic democracy He often includes important language lessons such as death to has never meant anything than disapproval and can be said to themselves on a bad day or to inanimate objects p164In short Iran is stunted from progress and modernity by a sclerotic weakened by age and myopia conservative religious elite who they first instantiated and revered but that now depends on Basij violence and the general mild mannered patriotism of the Persian people And on lies that paint the authentic islamic opposition as some puppets of the West Lies that make me so angry in that appeals to nationalism by conservatives are poisoning the world The Basij are especially iconic and fascinating a militia over 1m men strong who are somehow empowered to enforce whatever Iran means to them I could see America s NRA wingnuts very comfortable with that insane anti democratic roleI read it also as a warning of how easily we could lose our own democracy since voting can be controlled and results fabricated even in a fully modern country And the powers that be may choose to not offer any recourse When Trump loses will his and the congress power be shed as always before Iran shows no guarantee and that a Constitution is malleable to possibly meaninglessness Iran s society is deeply split between aspirational youth and conservative elders and those elders seem to be persuading just enough of the rest of society to weaken democracy and it is totally not clear what can be said Perhaps Majd is sufficiently non influential or well connected to be ignored or being the grandson of an Ayatollah gives some protectionTrue details abound Mullah s are masters of rhetoric as he describes how Friday sermons are crafted p104 Iran has never threatened the US directly though we proxy attacked them with the Shan and with Saddam Over 100 countries support Iran s nuclear program p142 due to careful cultivation of international alliances especially with muslimless affluent in Africa and Latin America the entire leadership envisions Iran leading a new Muslim enlightenment p148 For the USA preservation of dominance over others is important 12th grade iranian public textbook p161Iran will not collapse into either Burma or Ira Persia has a coherent identity and history The Neocons in the US are being sold and muscularly yet brainlessly reselling yet another fantasy by evil Bibi Like China Iran s leaders can keep control and the population wants stability There is a forlorn pining dream that Iran could be that this young generation could have been but is it just fleeting and tragicHow deeply with modernity enter with the internet and mobile communication intentionally stunted and censored despite strong systems of education former president Khatami said in 2005 Secularism is the experience of the Western culture and thought Insisting on spreading it to places where the underlying intellectual background and the political and social reasons for its appearance are lacking is clearly a mistake regardless of being desirable or not p90 SighThis book is patient and somehow fatherly especially when writing personally about his family history releasing stories slowly interspersed with interesting side trips to topics I had never considered For example on p100 he notes that both Khatami and Katsav who simultaneously were presidents on Iran and Israel were born in the same central Iranian town of Yadz The last chapter on Iranian tolerance for other religions including especially Jews falls flat to me and leaves only two pages to mention the blatant persecution that painfully does exist of the Baha i faithThe chronological bouncing around between sections and chapters at times confused me The sections on BushAfghanistanIra are so depressingGotta say I love the last two paragraphs p270 71 We are all victims all of us Iranians and no matter on which side of the political fence we fall we understand our victimhood as well as that of our leaders And we mourn our victims like no other peoples seeking unforgiving vengeance for every wrong real and perceived and wishing death to every enemy even when the enemy is ourselves The millions of Iranians and the leaders who have braved the stern and unforgiving dictates of a regime they helped to create are looking to finally break free from what has defined their political lives and when they are successful and they will be in an Ayatollah s democracy or not there will be finally no victims

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Hooman Majd offers a dramatic perspective on a country with global ambitions an elaborate political culture and enormous implications for world peace Drawing on privileged access to the Iranian power elite Majd argues that despite the violence of the disputed elections a group of influential ayatollahs including a liberal almost secular. As in his first book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ Hooman Majd s latest effort gives Westerners a valuable look into Iranian society and politics The title The Ayatollahs Democracy is an oxymoron that perfectly represents the many confounding Persian paradoxes that the book brings to lightHooman Majd was born in Tehran the son of a high ranking Iranian diplomat He was educated in the West and has lived in America where among other things he was a music producer for Island Records He knows Western culture and he knows Iran He has friends and relatives in high places in the Islamic Republic which gives him a uniue angle for viewing and writing about his homeland An Iranian American he is a secular Shia Muslim which probably makes him a walking oxymoronThe book begins with a rapid descriptive timeline of events around the disputed 2009 election that returned Ahmadenijad to power as Iran s President The timeline suffers from a random chronology that had me flipping pages backward and forward But the information is there for those who are patient And the author s verdict is clear the election was stolen He clearly loves Iran and is defensive of the 1979 Islamic revolution After all it delivered Iran from the clutches of Great Britain and the USA Still he does not shy away from descriptions of government violence that targeted and killed post election protesters in 09Millions of Iranians took to the streets after the disputed 09 election and many lost their lives Mr Madj skewers Western media accounts of the protests for reporting that a potential revolution may have been in the works This was merely wishful thinking in the West Westerners do not understand the enigmatic Islamic Republic So Mr Madj has taken it upon himself to bridge this EastWest chasm The protesters considered themselves part of a Green movement a Green wave Green is the color of Islam and the masses in the streets made it clear that green was their color Islam their faith The Islamic Revolution of 79 brought independence They want the Islamic Republic they now have with fundamental improvements They want their right to vote restored They did not want regime change Many in the West do not understand this Could Iranians want to keep the Ayatollahs democracy Yeah it would seem so This is a bitter pill for the West to swallow In The Ayatollahs Democracy we learn of the many layers in Iranian government The Supreme Leader The Guardian Council The Assembly of Experts The Expediency Discernment Council The Revolutionary Guards The Islamic Consultative Assembly Parliament To the credit of the author I actually began to understand how it works near the end of the book if only a little Ultimate power resides in the hands of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei but not exactly President Ahmadenijad must bend to the will of the Supreme Leader but defies him whenever he can get away with it There are influential Ayatollahs all over the place whose power and influence keep the Supreme Leader on his toes There is a Parliament with freely elected members who criticize the President but not the Supreme Leader with impunity The author Hooman Majd travels freely about the country interviewing whomever he pleases almost yet is constantly looking over his shoulder for secret police This is the democracySo it s an honest book In keeping with honesty Majd gives us the straight dope about Western hypocrisy in Iranian foreign relations What precisely did Iran do for example to become a candidate for George W Bush s Axis of Evil It funds Hezbollah and dislikes Israel Is this evil Not for most IraniansIn the 1970 s Majd was a college student in the US As the son of an Iranian diplomat who worked for the US backed monarchy the Shah he knew that he was being shadowed by a SAVAK secret police agent on American soil He knew enough to be careful of what he did and said in order to protect his family back home After the 79 Islamic revolution Mr Madj became a supporter of Sayed Khatami who was President of the republic from 1997 to 2005 Khatami and Madj are family probably cousins but I don t know how close or distant Suffice it to say that the author an American an Iranian has been deeply immersed in Iran his entire lifeHe teaches us about the Iranian concept of oghdeh where people and society are expected to be complex ambiguous and contradictory Don t shake your head or roll your eyes over blatant conflicts Things are never concrete Oghdeh is part of the fabric of Iranian life Things are never linear and simple Life is a puzzle figure it out Iranians often speak and write using the age old traditional device of ta arouf Employing ta arouf one might disarm an adversary with excessive praise as a means of softening him up It seems to be a kind of passive aggressive sleight of hand a backdoor one upsmanship beating around the bush as a tactic Don t we all do this Probably But Iran has had many centuries of practice While reading this book I got the impression that oghdeh and ta arouf have become impediments to our understanding of the Persian psyche and of the nation itselfI was disappointed that the author did not tackle the issue of nuclear power I was looking forward to his views It s clear that he disagrees with Western attitudes and economic sanctions He doesn t see why the West should have nuclear power but not Iran But he needs to address other issues such as Ahmadenijad s defiance of the United Nations and well the bomb I m hoping to see the discussion in his next book or in articles on his website Mr Majd takes pains to delve into the Iranian Jewish community in order to uestion the existence of religious freedom in Iran He interviews a former Jewish member of Parliament and a current Jewish MP A talented writer he presents the two politicians as distinct opposites Yet they seem to speak with the same voice We are Iranians first Jews second We don t care about Israel Member of Parliament Moreh Sedegh says The Jews of Iran are absolutely free As long as they don t support Israel When Mr Majd visits the Tehran Jewish Committee the largest such organization in Iran he interviews two influential leaders who speak with similar voices they sound almost identical to the current and former MP s The Tehran Jewish Committee is financially dependent upon the Islamic Republic for it s survival All of these influential Jewish citizens of Iran are incredibly careful with their words especially when responding to the author s ueries about IsraelMr Madj tells us that there are 25000 Jews in Iran The republic is disdainful of Jews who emigrate especially when they choose Israel Many of them are encouraged by outside Jewish groups who offer the euivalent of 10000 to potential emigres The position of the Iranian government is that this constitutes a pay off a buy out Would you desert the land of your birth for 10000 I suspect the money is what it takes to cover expenses incurred in resettling Wikipedia tells me that a 2012 Iranian census has roughly 9000 Jews left in Iran we know that Wiki can be unreliable This book was published in 2010 Whether it s 9000 or 25000 a lot of Jews have left Iran since the 79 revolution when the Jewish population was 80000 Tens of thousands have gone to Israel Europe Canada America and elsewhere They did not leave because they were so happy and free in the Islamic Republic And they did not leave because they were bought off for a crummy ten grand apieceHaving interviewed influential Iranian Jews the author attempted to visit a couple of working class Jewish families in their homes It never happened Madj s friend who set up the interviews said they re a little afraid they re not looking for troubleHere near the end of the book the author expresses his frustration My experiences with the Jewish community in Iran were no different from other experiences the paradoxical nature of the government the people the culture and the society at large is as confusing as ever and peculiarly Persian in character In other words oghdehHooman Madj Jews are completely free but not free to support Israel Jews are eual citizens except when they re not Iranian Jews must not travel to Israel except when they do Iranian Israelis are not welcome back in Iran except when they are Iranian government censors block the New York Post on the internet but not the Jerusalem Post That s Iran And it s big time oghdehHooman Madj keep the books coming

10 thoughts on “Ayatollah's Democracy

  1. says:

    As in his first book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ Hooman Majd's latest effort gives Westerners a valuable look into Iranian society and politi

  2. says:

    While this book moves through time according to perhaps the author's whim there is a lot here that the lay reader would not have access to in any other way Hooman Majd is an Iranian American bi lingual and connected to key players in Iranian politics He de mystifies Iran and presents it in a way that enables outsiders to understand its people and leadersHis earlier book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ The Paradox of Mode

  3. says:

    The Ayatollahs' Democracy is a good refreshingly personal yet still analytic look on Iran Hooman Majd's book draws from a number of sources including his own past as the son of an Iranian diplomat and avoids a major pitfall of political books; dullness This is partially due to the book being written as a reporter's view instead of a social scientific study but it's also due to Majd's great skill as a writer Th

  4. says:

    Perhaps in 2009 you remember cheering for the Greens hoping for global peace with the vibrant youth of Iran A deeply connected sympathetic and neutral journalist tries to document the facts which is useful for international understanding but al

  5. says:

    I was excited for Majd's second book as I found his first The Ayatollah Begs To Differ incredibly insightful and informative While The Ayatollah's Democracy does offer glimpses into the Persian psyche that would ot

  6. says:

    Undoubtedly a

  7. says:

    I read this in company with Kenneth Pollack's Persian Puzzle and Elaine Sciolino's Persian Mirrors The book gave me interesting insights into how reformist and conservative politicians navigate the tricky terrain of the Islamic Republic and how everyday people are forced to deal with the difficulties of an everchanging set of rule

  8. says:

    Not as poignant or prolific as his first book but still an interesting read on Iran's version of democracy from

  9. says:

    So poorly written obviously it's just a bunch of writing haphazardly thrown together as no doubt you'll find in the first chapters At the same time it brought up perspectives and brought light to the complexity of the Iranian system I definitely need to read about Iran what an interesting country and people I ha

  10. says:

    Fairly interesting ruminations on the current state of Iranian politics Majd is obsessed with the alleged unpopularity of president Ahmadinejad which seems confined to his own elite set and is otherwise engrossed in interviews he's had with various opinion leaders on subjects ranging from the controversial 2009 election to Jews in Iran

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