This blog probably receives more traffic and inquiries from Muslim bloggers in Iran and just plain curious individuals living in Iran than perhaps any other blog on the JewishJournal.com site. Unfamiliar with the lives of Jews living in the U.S., these non-Jewish Iranian visitors to my blog are surprised and often proud with their “fellow Iranians” success outside of Iran. I am also constantly bombarded with e-mails from Iranian bloggers opposed to the current regime and other pro-democracy individuals living within Iran who wish to share their insights, feelings and thoughts with the Jewish world and Americans in general. They write their messages with English letters that when read are words and sentences in the Persian language.
One frequent visitor to this blog is a student opposition leader living in Tehran who vents the frustrations of many young individuals in Iran have with the Obama administration and its inconsistency with regards to human rights and democracy issues in the Middle East. I recently asked him to go on the record with me about the true sentiments of his compatriots living in Iran regarding President Obama and he agreed to an interview on the condition that I not use his real name. The following is a translation of my recent telephone interview in Persian language with this student opposition leader who I will refer to as “Hassan P.” because he fears arrest and retribution from Iranian officials if they discover his true identity.
So why did you agree to this interview with a Jewish publication’s blog based in Los Angeles regarding Iran?
Well first and foremost, the vast majority of average Iranians living in Iran do not hate Jews nor do we hate Israel. The murderers controlling our country have that hate only. Your blog not only reflects positively on the lives of many Iranians living in American but you consistently tell the true about the horrors of Iran’s regime. I thought this may be a good forum for me to outreach to your readers because of our common Iranian background. Plus I would say no people on this planet have endured more suffering than the Jews during the course of human history—so many of us who are not Jews but suffering under a horrible government like this one in Iran like to think that your readership would understand with our current plight.
Hassan, why do you consider Obama unfriendly to those in Iran who are opposed to the Iranian government?
It’s very simple, just look at his actions and words during the last three years—they have been very tame toward the brutal regime in Iran. For example, in 2009 when we protested in the streets because of the fraudulent elections and the regime sent its thugs to beat and kill us. Many lost their lives including that famous girl “Neda” seen on YouTube who was shot by Iranian government militia. And what did Obama do or say? Not much. In very mild language he condemned the crackdown on us by the regime but did nothing more. We believe he was very tame in his response because he was trying to extend an olive branch to the mullahs ruling Iran so they would negotiate with him on the nuclear issue. We now know this was a failure by Obama because the mullahs never came to the negotiating table for the nuclear weapons program. Well, Obama’s move was the stupidest because it sent a clear message to the government here in Iran that they could get away with beating and murdering their own people and the America nor the West would raise a finger for the people of Iran. So in the eyes of the regime in Iran, Obama is seen as weak and in the eyes of most people who hate this government he is seen as someone who doesn’t care about us.
So is this just your opinion of Obama, or do you know other young people who feel the same way as you in Iran?
It’s not just my views, just look at the YouTube videos online of the thousands of young Iranians marching in the streets after the fraudulent 2009 elections and chanting “Obama, you’re either with us or you’re with them!” Here is just one of those videos….
With the protests in Iran earlier this year, do you think the Obama administration’s attitude or behavior toward those who seek democracy in Iran has changed?
No it hasn’t. It has only reinforced our earlier belief that he’s no friend to average Iranians who want to live free in our own country. In general he has shown that America turns its backs on its friends in the Middle East and doesn’t have the stomach to come down on its enemies in the region.
Why do you say that?
Well look at the example of Egypt. For the last 30 years Egypt has been a moderate Arab friend of the U.S. in the region. Now I am not defending Mubarak because he’s no different than many other dictators in the region. But when the protests began in Egypt, Obama came down hard almost everyday on Mubarak and his government and called for him to step down immediately. Obama rallied the European countries to pressure him to step down because of the human rights violations and the need for more freedom in Egypt. The world’s attention and pressure was on Mubarak and it ultimately forced his government to collapse. Now look at Obama’s behavior toward the Iranian leadership, who are not America’s friends in the region after they cracked down on the student opposition protests this February. He and Hillary Clinton did condemn the violence against us protesters but that’s it—he did not forcefully call for the regime to be removed, he did not rally the Europeans and the United Nations against the regime and his administration did nothing to place the international media spotlight on the Iranian government’s crimes against its own people during the protests. Where was his outrage at the slaughter of young men and women in the streets of Tehran? Was it not worse than what people endured while protesting in Cairo? Is this how Obama or America treats its enemies and friends? So Obama’s actions speak louder than his words and he’s proven to us not to be a friend of average people in Iran who hate the mullahs running our country. Obama’s administration has only emboldened the Iranian regime to continue their killing and terror against its people because they know the U.S. under Obama will do little if nothing to them for their crimes.
What would you like to see done differently by the Obama administration or the U.S. Congress to help your cause?
I think the most important thing for U.S. leaders to do is to express a very strong and unified voice against the human rights abuses the Iranian regime is committing against its people. Obama and his team have been “too nice” and “too diplomatic” in their public talk about the Iranian government. America and its leaders need to say very clearly and frequently in the media that they will not stand by and not allow for the mullahs and their thugs to continue killing innocent people in Iran who just want to live free. Your leaders need to keep the world’s pressure and media spotlight on Iran. Why don’t they call for the International War Crimes Tribunal to bring charges against the Iranian leadership for crimes against humanity? Why don’t you expose the thousands of innocent people they kill everyday on false charges of marital infidelity, treason, homosexuality and supposed crimes against Islam? This I think is very important rhetoric that needs to come from the American leadership and will give encouragement of the heart to average Iranians who will not feel hopeless in standing up against the current Iranian regime. I think that if we feel America is truly behind us and the U.S. government will do everything on the diplomatic end to pressure the Iranian government, then this regime cannot possibly continue its campaign of terror against its citizens and their house of cards will eventually collapse.
I also think that the U.S. and the world need to apply much more economic pressure on the Iranian government. The United Nations Security Council sanctions have scared the regime’s leadership and tightened the screws of their financial lifeline a little. But more needs to done. Banks in Europe and Asia need to decline major transactions from the Iranian regime’s companies. International companies need to stop their billion dollar contracts with the regime. The Arab Gulf states need to refuse or reduce their refining of Iranian oil to gasoline that is sold back to Iran. In Iran we do not refine our oil into gasoline, so all of our gasoline must be imported. Without gasoline the country will come to a standstill and bring the regime to its knees. All of these economic measures will gradually squeeze the current regime and lead people in Iran to stand up against the government which has failed them. It saddens me to say it but Iran is already in financial ruin because the mullahs running the country have been so corrupt and for years have been using funds from the sale of our natural resources to fund the Palestinian terrorist causes or Hezbollah’s terrorism instead of building up the country. I think that just a few more economic pushes will bring the regime to near collapse.
Do you have hope that one day Iran will be free of the current regime?
Of course. We never loose hope. We as a people have had a long history of being ruled by dictators and conquerors, but we have always overcome them. The majority of Iranians living in Iran today are younger people who want better lives for themselves and as they continue growing up, they will not want to endure these current hardships. Also don’t forget that Iran is the birthplace of human rights and equality. It was under Cyrus the Great, the ancient ruler of Iran who declared human rights for all of the world’s inhabitants. We are of course the descendants of Cyrus and will eventually rise up against these murderers who have taken over our country.