By Manda Zand-Ervin
March 26, 2010
The Islamic regime in Iran has a pool of defenders among the American “elite” media, political analysts, activists, and academia. They are invited to and welcomed in Iran, assigned to a “handler” who makes sure the honored guests are dined (not wined), taken to the assigned places and given approved talking points. Gifts of Persian carpets and cans of the best caviar at the airport normally seal the deal.
These American elites never mingle with the “real” people of Iran, and never talk to their Iranian counterparts. They visit the universities, but never walk the campuses alone or privately exchange opinions with students and professors. They never visit the Evin or Kahrizak prisons, nor do they ever even pass by them to see the crowds of people waiting to hear one word about their loved ones inside.
These visitors never look at the documents — long lists of inhumane laws against women and children, photos of tortured and stoned women, hanging teenagers, strangled men accused of the crime of homosexuality.
They never study Iranian/American relations and history, and never learn about how the Iranian people have struggled for more than a hundred years against the Shiite clergy, fighting for modernity and separation of religion from government.
These elites never want to talk to the Iranian American human rights activists to get the facts or at least hear the other, true, side of the story.
The Islamic regime in Iran is a gender- apartheid regime. It is a cruel, misogynistic government whose members suffocate women politically, socially, privately, publicly and legally. They never say that 86% of Iranian women are unemployed. They never talk about Iranian laws which say women are the property of men, that men can treat women as they wish, that men can “marry” as many wives as they want, divorce them anytime they want, take their children away, and discard them with nothing. They never mention that according to the sharia laws of Iran, women cannot do anything without the husband’s permission, even step out of the house.
European and American “elite” apologists for the regime have the attitude of cultural imperialists, and have apparently decided that since the Iranian people are a bunch of Moslems who live in the Middle East, they do not have a desire for democracy, prosperity and the pursuit of happiness, and that they volunteer to have their children tortured, oppressed and denigrated.
The apologists never refer to the fact that there are over a quarter of a million street children in Iran who do not officially exist. They have no identity, no birth certificates. They are born and raised on the streets and are the products of “temporary marriage,” a law which codifies exploitative sex that is not only legal, but encouraged and pushed by the regime.
In their desire to maintain the all-important “status quo,” they do not fact-check their talking points to see if they are lies; to see that in 1979, the people of Iran rose up because they wanted more freedom, not an Islamic theocracy.
The Western supporters of the Iranian regime even ridiculously refer to University of Tehran polls, and swear by their fairness and accuracy. They do not know or do not care, or both, that Iranian universities are run by an uneducated Shiite clergy appointed by the “supreme leader.” They do not know or do not care, or both, that paramilitary forces are in control of the university campuses around the country, and that plainclothes guardsmen have been in every hallway and every classroom since the 1998 nationwide student uprisings.
Are they deliberately trying to mislead Americans?
These are the same people who support liberal groups like the ACLU, which exploit freedom to take advantage of its privileges — but when it comes to Iran’s theocracy, oppression is totally acceptable.
These are the same people who protested against George W. Bush, decrying that he damaged the image and reputation of the United States of America in the world— but they do not grant the privilege to protest to the Iranians who have lost human dignity as the result of the actions of a group of illiterate thieves and hoodlums.
Shame and guilt require awareness of choice. You do not have to be a member of the elite to know that.
Manda Zand-Ervin is an Iranian human rights activist, writer and founder of .