Friday, May 31, 2013

Ultimate Humiliation for the Post of Presidency in the Islamic Republic

The live televised Islamic Republic presidential debate, shown on state TV today, quickly turned into a hilarious farce that made many viewers laugh aloud as they watched something which was more like a game show than a presidential debate.

Eight approved candidates were asked random questions about their plans to sort out the economy and none had any specific solutions but merely described the problems and hardships as they stand now.

There was a glimmer of hope that Aref would transgress the red boundaries and spice up the bland debate when he talked about the necessity for freedom of speech, the freedom to criticise and the benefits of using experts regardless of their factional loyalties, but Velayati quickly dashed these hopes by saying experts should all be loyal to the regime and obey the Supreme Leader. A pre-condition that all candidates had to nod and agree to immediately.

Tehran mayor and one of the presidential candidates, Mohamamd Bagher Ghalibaaf, had a  laptop in front of him but it was unclear what use he was making of his laptop. He started almost everyone of his replies with the "In the name of Allah, the most compassionate and the most merciful" and plugged his successes as the Tehran mayor. For example he boasted about setting up the 110 emergency telephone number which gave equal access to all citizens without any discrimination to call the police as an example of equal opportunity for all and a precursor to his economic fairness policies.

Jalili seemed to think the answer to all problems was to continue with the revolutionary dialogue and endeavour.

Seventy Two Year old Gharazi boasted about his generation having secured the support of 98% of the population for the Islamic Republic and pined at how that support over the years had dwindled by his successors and their mismanagement.

Aref and Adel exchanged success and failure stories of reformist factions versus principalist factions when in government.

Rezaei suddenly deemed the un-Islamic architecture of the new buildings to be a problem of high priority. All were critical of Ahmadinejad's years as president with Jalili being the least critical and promising to continue with much of Ahamdinejad's policies but in a better managed way .

Hadad Adel thought Iranians should change their Western lifestyles to an Islamic life style and hence reduce consumption and the need for the present uncontrolled chaotic imports.

All said they would continue with the subsidy cash handouts and either increase it or include basic commodity hand outs as part of their plans but admitted that the cash liquidity injection in the economy by the payments is causing soaring inflation which means less purchasing power for people and difficulties in government's balance of payments.

And so the first half of the program went on with the candidates racing against each other, within the three minutes time they each had allocated, to say nice things like meritocracy, fulfilling the potentials, support for production, turning threats into opportunities, making Iranians proud etc.

The best was to come in the second half however. Candidates were suddenly shocked into thinking the multiple choice questions the presenter described they were going to be asked was a general knowledge quiz. Aref displaying the most fear and outrage said last time he answered multiple choice test questions was when he was a student 40 years ago and he was not going to take part and answer the questions. Other candidates also backed Aref. The presenter had to go out of his way to say the format was a joint decision by the lawful bodies within the state TV and the Guardian Council and that it was not a general knowledge test. With that reassurance by the presenter, other candidates calmed down but it was too late  for Aref who had categorically stated he would not answer the questions.

Gharazi complained that the presenter missed asking the first question from him. Presenter asked him the first question again and asked him to answer the second question too. Gharazi said he didn't understand the second question and was just keen to answer the first question.

Next shock came when the presenter said the multiple choice questions will now be followed by a picture round. Aref back tracked and said he will take part in the picture round. Eight pictures were shown in total and each time, candidates were asked what was the first thing that came to their mind?

Picture Caption Question from Presidential Candidates
A picture of a US mine in Utah was one of the eight pictures that was shown. Aref thought it was a valley in Iran with the potential to become a tourist attraction while Gharazi thought it was an abandoned mining project in Iran where the owner had already fled or had been imprisoned. Rezaei confidently said he recognised the mine to be somewhere in Yazd, Central Iran. Rowhani thought he had visited the place recently and Velayati too thought it was another unfinished government project. Jalili expressed regret at how this abandoned mine demonstrated not using the full potentials of the country.

A picture of a traffic jam brought up the air pollution problem for the first time in the election campaign. Ghalibaaf said during his time as the Mayor of Tehran he had asked everyone, who has the "ownership" of this problem and no one knew. Gharazi simply sufficed by saying "May God have mercy on all of us".

Another picture of a crowded bazaar prompted replies like "it shows there are a lot of people but no one is spending because they have no money in their pockets and instead are getting in each other's way".

The most entertaining program ever to be shown on Islamic Republic state TV ended with the last picture question displaying a clock that showed the time to be at 7.15 and the presidential candidates having to say what it made them think of!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mohamad Reza Aref, Before and After the 1979 Revolution

Picture of Mohamad Reza Aref on the left, in 1976 while studying in US on a scholarship from the Pahlavi foundation and the same Mohamad Reza Aref, running as a reformist presidential candidate this year.

What the Morality Police would do with Mohamad Reza Aref, if he caught him today, walking in the streets, with that long hair and those tight trousers!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The People United, Will Defeat Terrorism

What makes people from all different walks of life, opinion, race, colour and creed unite every now and then?

One of them, as it was evident on Sunday in Woolwich, was the common threat of Islamic extremism. A very serious threat that concerns all of us who value our freedoms and privileges and was manifested once again in the brutal killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

The threat of political Islam is made worse by spineless politicians, who refuse to take necessary measures, and therefore requires the ordinary people to come together and rout out this hideous menace.
That is exactly what happened on Sunday in Woolwich.

I first met with some friends from "March for England" in Waterloo. I have known the MfE supporters for a few years now. They are decent patriotic people with whom I share many values and we have stood together on many occasions against extremists who want to impose their way of life on the rest of us.

The march started from Charlton station in South London. It was supposed to be a silent march in respect for the occasion. On a few occasions however, some sections of the crowd started chanting but fortunately, they were quickly reminded by the stewards and others that this was not the time and place.

As the marchers continued along the route, the original core of a few hundred grew to a thousand and they were cheered and applauded by passers by and residents of Woolwich.

The best thing about the march was that everyone was there. If the terrorists thought they had subdued people into fear, it was in fact the very opposite that had taken place. Their brutal barbaric murder of Lee Rigby had demonstrated to everyone what threatens us all if we remain silent and that we must stand together to preserve the peace and freedoms we enjoy in England.

As the courageous woman, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, told the blade wielding maniac, "You are going to lose. It's only you versus many" and we had to show on Sunday that there were many of us and that they are going to lose.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ghalibaaf's Badge of Honour

In any normal presidential elections, you would expect the candidates to talk about their plans and policies to improve the lives of the voters, not in the Islamic Republic however.

There are many problems in Iran that the next president will inherit. Apart from the worsening economic conditions and people's living standards dropping on a daily basis, there is killer air pollution in major cities, there are looming environmental catastrophes to deal with, unemployment and social malais like increasing drug addiction and prostitution etc. Yet the candidates are not talking about how to resolve air pollution or bring down unemployment, there are other issues which seem to have priority for the candidates in the Islamic Republic. For example, Tehran Mayor, Mohamad Bagher Ghalibaaf, a former pilot trained in North Korea, speaking at a gathering of Baseej, proudly claimed as his badge of honour, his role in putting down the student protesters in 2003 and in 1999.
"I was the head of NAJA [Law Enforcement Forces] at the time [2003] and I went to the national security meeting of the interior ministry. The reformists were dithering on giving the permission for the security forces to enter the university. I spoke to them very harshly there, even used profanities which I shouldn't repeat here and I forced them to give me the permit for security forces to enter the university and to shoot"

Ghalibaaf also proudly tells his audience that during the student uprising in 1999, he was on the back of his 1000 cc motor bike beating up protesters with a stick.

Of course Ghalibaaf is a shrewd man, its not that he doesn't care for votes. He knows the audience he has to appeal to are not the voters but the establishment figures, the Revolutionary Guards and the Baseej chiefs who want to be reassured the candidates will defend the system if the going gets tough. Thats where the votes will come from not from the voters.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rafsanjani's Wife v BBC Persian Employee Massoud Behnoud

The picture on the left is that of Massoud Behnoud, BBC Persian employee and the recipient of many grants and funds from European bodies. Throughout his entire life, Massoud Behnoud has  switched sides and changed colours to remain close to whoever the ruling elite in Iran has been. This school drop out who used to flatter former Empress, Farah Pahlavi, when the Shah was in power, became a supporter of the revolution in 1979 and later a close associate of the Rafsanjanis and personal adviser to Mehdi Hashemi in London.
The man, if thats the right word to use when referring to him, is an absolute disgrace in every way. Yet his boyish looks and his glasses coupled with his skill in story telling have made him the intellectual icon for many superficial Iranians who are struck by appearances and media celebrity status.

I have heard Massoud Behnoud lie so many times through his teeth and twist facts as he pleases, but here I just want to mention one of his profound intellectual statements in a meeting I attended shortly before the 2009 disputed elections. Behnoud who was one of the panel members speaking at SOAS, refuted any suggestions that the Islamic Republic would cheat in the elections and categorically stated "The Islamic Republic never cheats in elections". There you go, that's what the British tax payer is paying to keep in employment and Europeans are funding with their unaccountable and unmonitored grants.

The reason I remembered that meeting and Behnoud's claim in the integrity of the Islamic Republic in counting votes was a report I came across yesterday in this Iranian news website about Rafsanjani's wife, Effat Mar'ashi.

Effat is known by friend and foe to be a staunch steadfast woman, "worth ten men" often described by many who know her. The hardline Young Journalist Club, YJC, quoted her telling reporters that "My husband will not stand as an election candidate. There are no elections here. It is no bother for them to switch the votes"

So there you go, BBC Persian employee tells the public about the integrity of the Islamic Republic in counting votes and the wife of the head of the Expediency Council and former president of Iran believes elections in Iran is a farce. What an irony!